From trees and shrubs to grasses and low-growing ground cover (The National – UAE)

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Native plants make a welcome comeback to Abu Dhabi’s streets


Hussam Ali first embarked on what he now describes as his “love affair” with the UAE’s native plants five years ago.

“To grow indigenous plants you need more concentration,” the manager of the Barari Nursery in Al Foah, Al Ain, explains. “You need more than concentration. You need love. If you don’t love these plants it is very difficult to learn how to grow them or even how to collect the seeds.”

Plants such as the leathery-leaved Rhazya stricta, the salt-tolerant ­Haloxylon salicornicum and the goat-resistant Tephrosia apollinea may now be his passion, but in the early days Ali was driven by something more than mere botanical ­curiosity. “There was a buzz in the market,” the nurseryman explains, “and various government agencies were saying that the future lay in ­native species.”

Keen to get a head start on what he saw as an emerging market, Ali started to scour the UAE’s mountains, dunes and wadis looking for specimens or seeds of the plants he believed would ultimately make him his fortune.

Unfortunately, Ali’s employer at the time disagreed with his horticultural hunch and so the plantsman from Peshawar was forced to conduct his research in his own time. “I had no proof to show to my management that they should invest in these plants so I started growing them myself. Each Friday and Saturday, I would go out and some friends might come with me for a gossip and a picnic,” he remembers. “We would spend the whole weekend in the mountains and the valleys collecting seeds and taking cuttings.”

One of the main challenges was that few of the plants had ever been grown commercially and, in many cases, the techniques required for their propagation were a mystery. Ali’s struggle with Zygophyllum mandavillei, a salt-tolerant perennial with succulent-like foliage, is a case in point.


Posted in Desertification, Native plants

What’s new with the Great Green Wall in Africa ? (FAO)

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An African partnership to tackle desertification and land degradation

Desertification and land degradation challenge the lives of people in the Sahel and the Sahara, home to the world’s poorest populations.

In 2007, African Heads of State and Government endorsed the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative to tackle the detrimental social, economic and environmental impacts of land degradation and desertification in the region.

Supporting local communities in the sustainable management and use of their forests, rangelands and other natural resources, the initiative seeks to improve the food security and livelihood of the people, while contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

A harmonized strategy for the Great Green Wall was adopted in September 2012 by the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN).


Posted in Desertification, Great Green Wall (GGW)

Interesting plant for smallholder farmers in the drylands (You Tube)

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Spineless Opuntia to combat desertification 

This spineless, edible cactus is a very interesting plant for smallholder farmers in the drylands.  Easy to grow from vegetative paddles, growing with a minimum of water in dry areas.  Can be used to combat desertification, to limit erosion.  A nice food crop (paddles, fruits) and fodder plant for livestock.

See its manifold uses and benefits  (food, phytochemicals and fold medicine, intoxicant, dye production, earthen walls, water treatment)  at :

Posted in Desertification, Opuntia

How to reverse progressing desertification (Google / #SurvivalOrganicSeeds SOS™)

Seen at : Google Alerts – desertification

Surviving desertification

Can we undo the damage done to our ecosystem globally? Can we stop the excess of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere? This documentary shows how communities in different parts of the world work to reverse progressing desertification. China, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Jordan, Bolivia… John D. Liu documents their efforts and engages in propagation and promotion of sustainability. This is truly a thought provoking picture. -

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Posted in Desertification, ecosystems, Sustainability

Gender and desertification (Google / UGent)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification

Gender and desertification: what role for international law and policy?

Nicky Broeckhoven UGent

(2014) Conference of the U4 cluster Social sciences, economics and law, Proceedings.

Posted in Desertification, gender

Demonstrating how we can reintroduce renewable resources (Google / The National UAE)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification

The house in Al Ain that history is building


To passers-by, the curious structures that have started to appear on a patch of waste ground in downtown Al Ain are something of a mystery.

Handmade by a team of master craftsmen from the historic environment department at the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), the dome-like structures consist of arches built from bundles of palm fronds neatly bound together with rope.

At first sight, the structure looks like it might be a new extension of the small heritage village that greets visitors to the neighbouring Al Ain National Museum, just a few metres away on the far side of the Eastern Fort.

But appearances are deceptive. Rather than a reconstruction of Al Ain’s past, the domes, or gridshells as they are known, look to a future where millennia-old skills and construction techniques are fused with modern engineering to create what could be one of the UAE’s most innovative architectural and humanitarian exports.

“We want to demonstrate how we can reintroduce renewable resources – date palm leaves in this case – back into the mainstream construction industry,” explains Sandra Piesik, the UK-based architect who is the driving force behind the Food Shelter.


Posted in Desertification, UNCCD

Soils – UN Challenge Badge (Google / FAO / Yunga)

Read at : Google Alerts – desertification


This booklet is intended as a guide for teachers and youth leaders.
These individuals are responsible for the development of programmes and
activities which are suitable for their group and provide the required supervision
and safety precautions to ensure all participants are safe and sound.

Posted in Desertification, Soil