By Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (Ghent University, Belgium)

For many years I have lived with the conviction that the progress of desertification can best be slowed down by building living tunnels in all developing countries that are subject to drought and desertification.

Aware of the fact that certain tree and shrub species take root quite easily, I am sure that in all areas where desertification is progressing we can also grow tunnels, which provide sufficient shade and higher inner humidity, to grow all kinds of interesting crops (eg vegetables and herbs).

Let’s start with some living tunnels built with branches of willow trees. The accompanying photos immediately show that it is possible to grow food crops with a minimum of irrigation water, inside these shady places (where there is also a higher inner humidity)

No further explanation is necessary. A number of plant species can be found in all developing countries, which take root easily and with which similar tunnels can be built.

I firmly believe that “LIVE TUNNELS” is one of the best practices to combat desertification and to eradicate malnutrition and hunger.




Who has enough strength to give it a try?


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

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

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