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Researchers Use Wastewater to Grow 240-Hectare Forest in Egyptian Desert

Located near Ismailia, about two hours from Egypt’s capital, Cairo, Serapium Forest is nothing short of an environmental miracle – a 240-hectare forest of both native and non-native trees thriving in the middle of the desert.

Advancing desserts have become a serious problem throughout the African continent, but a team of German and Egyptian researchers has come up with a very efficient way of stopping desertification and even reclaiming land from the dry sands. While forests have been used to stop the spread of deserts into fertile land for a very long time, the absence of rainfall makes nurturing the trees and keeping them healthy an almost impossible task in most African countries. But it turns out we don’t have to rely on water falling from the sky, as waste water works even better for plants and trees not intended for human consumption.

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Meet Yacouba Sawadogo – The Man Who Stopped the Desert

Yacouba Sawadogo is an exceptional man – he single-handedly managed to solve a crisis that even scientists and development organizations could not. The simple old farmer’s re-forestation and soil conservation techniques are so effective they’ve helped turn the tide in the fight against the desertification of the harsh lands in northern Burkina Faso.

Over-farming, over-grazing and over population have, over the years, resulted in heavy soil erosion and drying in this landlocked West African nation. Although national and international researchers tried to fix the grave situation, it really didn’t really make much of a difference. Until Yacouba decided to take matters into his own hands in 1980.

Yacouba’s methods were so odd that his fellow farmers ridiculed him. But when his techniques successfully regenerated the forest, they were forced to sit up and take notice. Yacouba revived an ancient African farming practice called ‘zai’, which led to forest growth and increased soil quality.

Yacouba-Sawadogo

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