Despite its challenging political and economic situation, Ethiopia has become home to one of the world’s most impressive community revegetation efforts. Located in the country’s northern Tigray region, the project is carried out by local farmers with the help of trained government officials and has been ongoing for over 15 years.
The project is massive in scale, encompassing 40 days (split between January and September) in which farmers leave their fields and work on terraces and irrigation systems, coming back later to plant saplings in the revitalized soil.
This process, dutifully repeated year after year, has begun to restore the soil quality, groundwater levels, and reducing erosion. Effectively, the process is gradually reversing the effects of drought and deforestation. Restoration has covered approximately one million hectares of land and required the movement of at least 90 million tonnes of soil.
In late 2017 Tigray’s revegetation programs received the gold award from the World Future Council, which works closely with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).
The environmental impact of revegetation has not been lost on the local population, who rely on the arid land for both sustenance and income. With the return of soil fertility comes restored hope for a region that was previously characterized by mass emigration.
Drylands like the ones in Tigray cover roughly 40% of the Earth’s surface, which shows just how important efforts like Tigray’s are. These regions are especially susceptible to desertification brought about by human activity, an unfortunate truth that threatens the well-being of hundreds of millions of people, especially in the developing world. Tigray shows that with the will to make change and the support of government, ordinary people can come together to improve their environment for the benefit of all involved.
Of course, in Australia we have our own issues with desertification and increasing dryland salinity, not to mention the increasing frequency of heatwaves and drought. Revegetation efforts such as those undertaken in Ethiopia could provide insights into the importance of conserving natural ecosystems and how we can adapt to drier conditions.
- If you are interested in community revegetation, check out Planet Ark’s annual National Tree Day campaign to find a planting site near you or start one of your own.
- Check out the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network to explore Australia for community gardens and City Farms.
Subscribe to Positive Environment News
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.