“The areas surrounding the Sahara desert which decades ago were covered with forests, crops and grasslands, can be restored – a significant chunk of them by 2030 – according to agriculture experts.
For the first time, the Sahel area straddling 27 countries has been mapped in painstaking detail showing where and how the work can be done – and just how big the job is to create what is called Africa’s Great Green Wall.
Home to some 232 million people, it stretches coast to coast, from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east, and along Africa’s northern shores.
Some 166 million hectares of land have been identified for restoration in the survey – nearly three times the size of Kenya or France.
To halt and reverse the impact of decades of overgrazing and deforestation, around 10 million hectares will need to be restored each year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which published the map.
“It’s a battle against time, because dryland forests are disappearing and climate change is really happening – and more droughts and floods will not make the work easy,” said Nora Berrahmouni, forestry officer for drylands at FAO.”