The “Great Green Wall”:A Pan-African Initiative to mitigate climate change & create millions of jobs
Updated: Apr 3
The role of trees in climate mitigation
Climate change mitigation has become one of the most important topics of our generation and as a result forests have become an increasing talking point.
Trees capture carbon from the atmosphere and are the most effective CO2 absorbers. They mitigate climate change by restarting water cycles, stopping deserts from spreading and turning barren grounds back into fertile woods and farmland. They also create and maintain a habitat for (potentially endangered) animal species, to support biodiversity, and regenerate depleted soils, therefore allowing people to thrive off their land by growing fresh produce, providing both food and income and lifting them out of poverty.
Currently Earth’s forests and soil absorb about 30% of atmospheric carbon emissions and a recent study suggests that our ecosystems could support another 900 million hectares of forests – that’s 25% more forested area than we have today!
However, deforestation is still dramatically increasing in some parts of the world, which is why tree planting projects have played an important role in reducing the net loss of forest area globally. Social enterprises like Ecosia have increasingly gained popularity, but there is one movement I have only recently come across that blew my mind and could be a huge game changer in many different ways.
Introducing the "Great Green Wall"
South of the Sahara Desert there is a belt of dry grassland that separates the arid land from Africa’s lush forests, called Sahel. It hasn’t always looked like this; only in the 1970s did the once abundant and green land start to become severely degraded due to population growth, unsustainable land management practices and – you guessed it! – climate change.
In 2007, under the leadership of the African Union, 11 countries came together with the significant goal: to grow an 8000km natural wonder across Africa, coast to coast, from Senegal to Djibouti.
Today, the movement has more than 20 African countries signed up to create the largest living structure on the planet – 3 times bigger than the Great Barrier Reef!
By 2030 the wall aims to restore 100 million hectares of currently degraded land, sequester 250 million tonnes of CO2 and create 10 million jobs in rural areas.
Millions are expected to migrate from degraded parts of Africa in the next two decades, so creating these jobs will empower people and improve their economies.
People in African countries have long realised the importance of projects like these – only last year did Ethiopia break a world record by planting 350 million trees in a day and is aiming to plant many more.
The Green Great Wall is an amazing initiative and I am excited to follow the journey and see it (literally) being brought to life.