Poverty, low water availability, deforestation and land degradation are fuelling conflicts, but Kenya greens drylands.


Photo credit: IPS News

A Kenya Forestry Research Institute technician pruning an acacia tree at a drylands research site in Tiva, Kitui County. Credit: Justus Wanzala/IPS

Kenya Greens Drylands to Combat Land Degradation

High levels of poverty, low water availability, deforestation and land degradation are fuelling conflicts among communities in East Africa.

Faced with growing degradation that is swallowing large swathes of land in arid and semiarid areas, Kenya is heavily investing in rehabilitation efforts to stave off the threat of desertification.

Charles Sunkuli, secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, says a programme targeting 5.1 million hectares of degraded and deforested land for restoration by 2030 was launched in September 2016. He added that Kenya is increasing its forest cover from the current seven percent to a minimum of 10 percent.

“We have introduced an equalisation fund to help communities living in dry and degraded lands eke out at a living and participate in rehabilitation initiatives,” said Sunkuli.

He was speaking in Nairobi during the Fifteenth Session of the Committee of Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which concluded last week.

Afforestration, he noted, will mainly be done in the country’s arid and semiarid areas which make up 80 percent of Kenya’s land cover, although other areas of the country to are being targeted too.

To succeed in its ambitious endeavour, Sunkuli said Kenya is implementing a programme to promote drought-tolerant tree species such Melia volkensii (locally known as Mukau) in the country’s vast drylands to increase forest cover.

Indeed, Kenya is heavily investing in research into drought resistant trees to enhance afforestration of dry lands and improve livelihoods. At Tiva in the dry Kitui County, eastern Kenya, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) has established a research centre to breed tree species ideal for planting in arid and semiarid areas. The centre is supported by the government in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Read the full article: IPS News

High value trees in Africa RISING Ethiopia


Photo credit: Africa Rising

Photo 1: Avocado sapling in Lemo Upper gana. Photo: ICRAF/Hadia Seid)

Intensifying with high value trees in Africa RISING Ethiopia – some reflections from the first phase

A daunting task to improve the drylands through afforestation for people’s wellbeing


Photo credit: China.org.cn

Kubuqi Desert [China.org.cn]

Poverty alleviation: Greening the desert for people’s wellbeing

As noted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, promoting ecological progress is of vital importance to the people’s wellbeing and China’s future; and it remains a daunting task to improve the ecosystem through afforestation. Nearly 30 years ago, the Kubuqi Desert in Inner Mongolia, the seventh largest desert in China, was a barren land with no water, electricity, or future. To alleviate poverty through desertification control, Elion Resources Group (ELION) has successfully afforested an area of over 6,000 square kilometers by means of technological innovation, leading to a 95 percent decrease in sand-dust weather and an increase by six times in precipitation in Kubuqi.

Seven Stars Lake Desert Resort and convention complex, built by Elion Resources as part of an effort to turn the desert green and bring create and education and recreation center in the Kubuqi Desert, just south of the Yellow River. – A hotel built by ELION [China.org.cn]
During the process of ecosystem restoration, ELION has blazed a trail in the industrial development simultaneously driven by desertification control and poverty alleviation, while building up a new mechanism that integrates the government policy support, corporate commercial investment and market-oriented participation by farmers and herdsmen.

At this time of the year when forage has to be prepared in pastoral areas, Chen Ningbu no longer needs to worry about the forage for his over 300 sheep this winter, since he has enjoyed a bumper harvest of crops he planted in the sand.

The village where Chen Ningbu lived is located in the Kubuqi Desert and it used to be afflicted by sandstorms throughout the year. Large tracts of grassland and farmland were swallowed then. In the 1990s, average annual income for each person in this area was less than 400 yuan, and the local pillar business, Hangjinqi Saltworks, was also having a hard time, suffering from an annual loss of five million yuan for years.

When the saltworks was on the verge of bankruptcy, ELION stepped in and took over its operation. To save the business, urgent actions against desertification were needed. It was then decided that for each ton of salt sold,  5 yuan should be used in afforestation efforts. However, the survival rate of trees in the arid desert was even under 10 percent.

To solve the problem, ELION used grids made from twigs of bulrushes and the Salix mongolica to protect the trees against strong winds and the sand, effectively increasing the survival rate to 60 percent, but the cost for each acre of trees soared to up to 6,000 yuan.

Read the full article: China.org.cn

Who owns the seeds produced in nature ?


Photo credit: Bioversity International

Women’s shifting rights to precious tree resources in Burkina Faso

By Barbara Vinceti, Scientist

Néré (Parkia biglobosa)—the African locust bean—is a very important tree species not only in Burkina Faso but across West Africa. It plays a significant role in the diet of rural and urban populations in Burkina Faso’s Sudano-Sahelian zone. The fruit provides seeds, which women process into a highly nutritious sauce (soumbala) that is eaten with grain-based dishes. Although women are the ones to harvest néré seeds for income and direct consumption, they have no secure access to tree resources. Moreover, the density of néré is declining because of threats hindering its regeneration, including population growth and the expansion of cultivated crops in an extensive agrarian system. In a condition of resource scarcity and increasing demand, changes in women’s use and access rights are taking place.

Catherine Pehou, a young researcher from Burkina Faso, shared her findings on shifting access rights to néré in a session on ‘Adoption, innovation and gender perspectives’ at the annual Tropentag conference held in Vienna from 19-21 September, 2016. Pehou analyzed the dynamic nature of women’s access rights and control over néré in three villages in Central-West Burkina Faso, inhabited by autochthonous (Nouni) and migrant ethnic groups (Mossi and Fulani). Through a mix of methods including participant observation, Catherine mapped the access rights of 180 women to 400 néné trees.

Read the full article: Bioversity International

Trees for the Future and the Forest Garden Program


Photo credit: Trees for the Future

In Mbentinki, Senegal, women gather around to fill planting sacks for their new nursery.

Desertification: Rooting out the Problem with Trees

Article Post Written by Amanda Grossi, Trees Contributing Columnist 

Senegalese farmer and his son show off their field full of a variety multi-purpose trees and plants that help to halt desertification and bring food, fodder, and income to their family. – http://trees.org/app/uploads/2016/07/image00-202×300.png

More than 1.5 billion people in the world depend on degraded land, and about three quarters (74%) of them are impoverished¹.  For 250 million of these people, their plight has a name—desertification².  Desertification³, or land degradation occurring in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, is driven by both natural and man-made factors, and it is leaving farmers across sub-Saharan Africa thirsty for answers.  Desertification is not only scraping at the back door of families in places like West Africa. It is already in their homes and affecting their livelihoods in the most fundamental way.  It is seen in the meals they eat, and the meals they don’t.  In this region where agriculture is the backbone of the economy and land is often a person’s most valuable asset, desertification means devastation. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has a higher proportion of people living in poverty than any other region in the world, and 80% of these impoverished people depend upon agriculture or farm labor for their livelihoods⁴.

As the land dries up, so does peace.

But it’s not just about livelihoods or even food security.  In places like Nigeria, desertification is a threat to peace.  It is here that competition between nomadic cattle herders and farmers for the land that is increasingly swallowed by the Sahara desert has resulted in a conflict between the groups that has killed more people this year than Boko Haram⁵. Similarly, in Ghana, Fulani herdsmen from neighboring countries who have been forced to migrate in search of pasture have been destroying  property across local villages⁶.  As the land dries up, so does peace.

Desertification is not just their problem.  It is all of ours.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2050, there will be one third more mouths to feed and that global food supply will need to increase by about 70% to feed them⁷. In a world where we are losing both agricultural land and people to urbanization, this means that efficiency gains will need to be made on the land we already have, that we cannot afford to lose any more, and that some of the land that has already been lost will need to be restored.  Africa will be a key piece of the solution.

In the semi-arid places of West Africa, such as in Senegal where Trees for the Future works, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the Sahara Desert is encroaching at a rate of five kilometers per year.

Read the full article: Trees for the future

Trees for the Future



The Impact of Desertification on African Countries

by Jerry Wiatt, Sales Executive in Olympia, Washington

Jerry Wiatt is the founder of Treasure Hunt Group, an e-commerce business based in Olympia, Washington. In keeping with his belief in corporate social responsibility, Jerry Wiatt collaborates with Trees for the Future and sponsors tree-planting activities based on the number of orders received on his company’s e-commerce site.

Trees for the Future is a non-profit organization that is committed to revitalizing the degraded lands in Sub-Saharan Africa in a bid to end extreme hunger and poverty. Through its Forest Garden Program, the organization helps provide families with a sustainable source of food, livestock feed, and saleable products. It is currently running 14 projects in five countries: Cameroon, Kenya, Senegal, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Read the full story: Jerry Wiatt

Communal Fruit Tree Plantations to Combat Desertification


Photo credit: Modern Ghana


Reversing Desertification Through Communal Fruit Tree Plantations In Upper West Region

by Coalition For Change Ghana
It is usual for remote dwellers in the northern parts of Ghana to cut trees for livelihoods. Some especially women do so for charcoal, firewood and lately timber logging. However, an initiative by the Coalition for Change (C4C) in collaboration with the Jacobs Well Appeal –UK (JWA-UK) is righting the wrongs on the environment.

Their target is to liaise with communities to plant and care for fruit trees to benefit the communities. From August to September this year, they have engaged a remote community east of Wa the capital of the Upper West region to pilot the planting of mangoes and moringa seedlings. A total of 330 seedlings of mango (220) and moringa (110) were planted with the people of Kpaliworgu.

The community was trained on trees/environmental protection and the proper way of planting and raising trees. The community provided the land, poles and manpower for the plantation whilst JWA through C4C provided the seedlings, fencing and trainings. The seedlings will be looked after by the community for the next two years until they mature. Once the trees start fruiting, the community can harvest to supplement their fruit intake as well as sell some for developmental projects.

Read the full article: Modern Ghana

Shrubs to combat desertification


Photo credit: Google

Shrublands – www.tarleton.edu – Basin big sagebrush in a big basin

Shrubs more expansive than trees

September 26, 2016
University of Gothenburg
Shrubs are more widespread than trees in nature and on Earth. A new study explains their global success. It turns out that the multiple stems of shrubs are of key importance. This feature contributes to both better growth and better survival than in trees of similar size, according to the research team behind the study.

Read the full article: Science Daily

A landscape needs “bones” — plants that anchor the overall look throughout the year



Conifers, evergreen ‘bones’ that tie a landscape together year-round

  • Kathy Van Mullekom Daily Press

A landscape needs “bones” — plants that anchor the overall look throughout the year, not just during the growing season in spring and summer.


Evergreens typically form the “bones” of a good landscape design. In addition to providing a green backdrop, evergreens feature texture and form.

Throughout my gardening years, conifers have been my favorite family of evergreens for many reasons. Their softly textured foliage is pleasant to look at and touch. Their shapes and sizes are varied and artsy.

I’ve used conifers such as arborvitae as screening hedges along property lines, as stand-alone specimen plants in beds and as container gardens on patios. They need no pruning and generally have no major pest or disease problems. When bagworms once attacked one of my container-grown arborvitaes, I carefully picked them off and monitored the plant for any further issues, which never happened.

Read the full story: Fremont Tribune

1.8m Trees to Stop Desertification


Photo credit: Sahel Standard

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-rufai

Kaduna Plants 1.8m Trees to Stop Desertification

by in

The Kaduna State government is set to embark on a tree planting spree.This, Governor Nasiru Ahmad el-Rufa’i says would be used to preserve the environment.

Hassan Ibrahim,Kaduna(September 8)-The Kaduna state government has planned to plant 1.8 million tree seedlings in 2016 which would be used to preserve the environment ,Governor Nasiru Ahmad el-Rufa’i has said.

The governor said in Zaria,that “we shall continue to plant not less than 1.5 million seedlings annually.”
Similarly,Hajiya Amina Mohammed, Minister of Environment has expressed concern over incessant felling of trees in the country.

The minister and Governor el-Rufa’i spoke at the 2016 Tree Planting Campaign organised by Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) with the theme “Go Wild For Life: Zero Tolerant For Illegal Trade In Wild Life” and sub-theme: “Reawakening Campaign For Sustainable Tree Planting”.

Amina who represented by the State Minister, Alhaji Ibrahim Usman-Jibril, Usman-Jibril lauded the efforts of ABU at maintaining a green environment.

The minister also spoke on the need for issues between Fulani and farmers to be addressed through afforestation to pave way for calmness in the society.

While speaking on the occasion,a former Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Ango Abdullahi advocated for establishment of Arizon Development Commission to deal with issues of deforestation, apart from social and economic problems of people in the area.

Read the full story: Sahel Standard

China’s Grain-for-Green Program, the world’s largest reforestation effort


Photo credit: Science Daily

China’s Grain-for-Green Program, the world’s largest reforestation effort, has transformed 69.2 million acres of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest. Yet, the program overwhelming leads to the planting of monoculture forests (the eucalyptus forest, Japanese cedar forest and bamboo forest pictured above), falling short of restoring the biodiversity of native forests — and can even harm existing wildlife.
Credit: Fangyuan Hua


Seeing the forest for the trees: World’s largest reforestation program overlooks wildlife

September 7, 2016
Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
New research found that China’s reforestation program, the world’s largest, overwhelmingly leads to the planting of monoculture forests that fall short of restoring the biodiversity of native forests — and can even harm existing wildlife. The researchers found, however, that multi-species forests could be planted without detracting from the economic benefits China’s poor and rural citizens receive for replanting forests.

After years of environmental destruction, China has spent billions of dollars on the world’s largest reforestation program, converting a combined area nearly the size of New York and Pennsylvania back to forest.

The government-backed effort, known as the Grain-for-Green Program, has transformed 28 million hectares (69.2 million acres) of cropland and barren scrubland back to forest in an effort to prevent erosion and alleviate rural poverty. While researchers around the world have studied the program, little attention has been paid to understanding how the program has affected biodiversity until now.

New research led by Princeton University and published in the journal Nature Communications finds that China’s Grain-for-Green Program overwhelmingly plants monoculture forests and therefore falls dramatically short of restoring the biodiversity of China’s native forests, which contain many tree species. In its current form, the program fails to benefit, protect and promote biodiversity.

Read the full article: Science Daily

Is it enough to recommend tree species to farmers? Or even to supply them with the right seedlings and advice on growing them?


Photo credit: Agroforestry World

Farmers need different things from trees. Photo of Oromia farmers by Miyuki Iiyama/ICRAF.

What makes a farmer grow a tree? It depends.

Is it enough to recommend tree species to farmers? Or even to supply them with the right seedlings and advice on growing them?

Across Africa, bold campaigns are underway to get more trees into farming landscapes, as a means to restore land, protect watersheds, and meet people’s food and energy demands sustainably. But the farmers themselves have to decide to plant, keep and nurture the trees for the long haul. And as it turns out, these decisions depend heavily on the ecological and socio-economic realities farmers find themselves in, which vary widely.

In an effort to unravel farmers’ decision-making process around tree adoption, researchers from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and partners conducted a socio-economic study of farming households in Ethiopia’s Oromia State. The rich results gleaned from the study are published in the Open Access journalAgroforestry Systems.

Read the full story: Agroforestry World

Download article (Open Access)

Understanding patterns of tree adoption on farms in semi- arid and sub-humid Ethiopia. By Miyuki Iiyama, Abayneh Derero, Kaleb Kelemu, Catherine Muthuri, Ruth Kinuthia, Ermias Ayenkulu, Evelyn Kiptot, Kiros Hadgu, Jeremias Mowo, Fergus L. Sinclair. Agroforestry Systems
 DOI 10.1007/s10457-016-9926-y . 2016. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com

See more photos from the study sites athttps://www.flickr.com/photos/143272250@N02/sets/72157669531246886/

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