Can Africa’s Great Green Wall combat climate change and mass migration?

July 16, 2019, 

he Great Green Wall may be the most aptly named thing ever. It’s great, stretching nearly 5,000 miles across the continent of Africa. It’s green, consisting of millions of trees. And it’s a wall — not a solid wall, but a wall of trees meant to keep the Sahara from encroaching further into communities as a result of climate change and desertification.

It has been under construction for a decade and is about 15 percent done. Once completed, it will be the largest living structure on the planet at three times the size of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Green Wall is rooted in Africa’s Sahel region, which is the southern border of the Sahara. It stretches through at least 20 nations, some of them among the poorest in the world, including:

  • Senegal
  • Mauritania
  • Mali
  • Burkina Faso
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Chad
  • Sudan
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Djibouti

The Wall’s ultimate ambition


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.