Living Wangari Maathai’s dream

Wangari Mathai: Nobel prize winner, she helped plant a billion trees and paved the way for SGI.

It started more than six years ago, when in 2009, the Senegalese officials in Africa announced the Great Green Wall (GGW), a proposed wall of trees, stretching from Senegal to Djibouti. The aim is simple and of majestic proportions – to stop the Sahara desert from becoming bigger. The background was a bleak one, with climate change reducing the already-little rainfall down to nothing, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 

Not only had crops died and soil eroded, the forecast also predicted that two-thirds of the total farmland in Africa may be swallowed by the sands by 2025. Desertification affects 40 per cent of the continent and has made matters worse by climate change in the past few decades. The World Food Program warned that nearly 120 million people risk starvation due to desertification in just Sahel in West Africa.

Planting Trees can stop deserts, as has been seen in China, India, and now Africa.

Trees will not only keep the desert’s boundaries in check, they also prevent soil erosion, thus preventing it from becoming non-cultivable. The tree barrier will also become a refuge for the region’s animals and plants, but improving its biodiversity.

Yacouba-Sawadogo planted trees to stop the spread of the desert

In 2011, an international summit in Germany approved the building of the GGW and was set to pass through 11 African countries, namely, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. Nine more countries have joined in to plant drought-resistant trees across the edge of the mighty Sahara Desert.

This large man made forest with millions of trees planted will stop the march of the african desert

Covering most of North Africa, the GGW will be 14 km wide and 7,600 km long. It will also give sustainable farming options as well as livestock cultivation, thus giving the population a better chance at food security. Trees native to the region will be planted and will include the acacia species and also fruit trees to combat malnutrition. International organisations such as UK’s Royal Botanic Gardens, the World Bank, the African Union and UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation have pledged their support.

With quality of soil and land improving, authorities hope there will also be a surge in job opportunities, too. A Forbes magazine contributor covering the news also mentioned how the GGW could also counter terrorism that feeds off poverty and food insecurity.

These wars for survival that often take on the hues of radicalization and fundamentalism because farmers, fishermen and livestock keepers have no other way to feed their families will simmer down.

However, this is not the first time such an initiative has been undertaken. In 2006, China and Mongolia started tree plantation to stem the growth of the Gobi Desert. Back in the 1930s, US President Franklin Roosevelt started Shelterbelt Programs, where trees were planted to combat land degradation that was being caused by the Dust Bowl on the American High Plains.

Since the government began promoting voluntary tree planting and forestation 26 years ago, the Chinese people have planted 49.2 billion trees.

Thinking of planting a tree? We can help?

How will my planting trees help? Why should I plant a tree?

The simplest way to combat climate change is to plant trees: Trees breathe in Carbon Di Oxide and through the process of photo-synthesis create food for themselves and breathe out Oxygen.  Carbon Di Oxide is one of the main causes of global warming. CO2 and other Green House Gases blanket the earth's atmosphere and trap heat.  This leads to warming of the earth's atmosphere as the trapped heat is prevented from escaping. 
Planting  and nurturing a tree helps reduce global warming as trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen. A mature tree sequesters up to a ton of Carbon in its life time. It also gives out enough oxygen required by two human beings. 
Planting a tree can be one of the most satisfying activities of our lives. Nurturing a tree we have planted and watching it grow and bear fruit is an extremely rewarding experience. Apart from this, here are a few more reasons to help you start planting: 
  • As a gift: Gifting a tree to a friend, a colleague, a dear one can be a very unique experience.
  • In memory of a loved one..
  • To mitigate our individual carbon footprint.
  • As part of our corporate social responsibility.
Sustainable Green Initiative plants fruit trees on fallow/ community lands and on lands owned by marginal and Bpl farmers.  We work with self help groups and NGOs who help us identify right beneficiaries who can continue the process of planting and nurturing trees. (See our methodology)
At Sustainable Green Initiative, we plant trees to help the fight against climate change and also hunger, poverty and rural migration.  By planting a tree through us, you help in doing your bit to mitigate your carbon footprint and carry on the fight against hunger, poverty and climate change.

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Did you know a tree sequesters about 1 ton of carbon and processes enough oxygen for two peoples requirements in its life-time?

So what are you waiting for? Plant a tree today.


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