Desertification: the process by which fertile land becomes desert, typically as a result of drought, deforestation, or inappropriate agriculture.
Desertification goes by a couple of other names – desert-spread or desert-creep, to name a couple of them. It’s a process which has become a serious problem for countries in the Sahara desert – specifically, Egypt where 96% of their land is a desert landscape. The process of desertification threatens their already minimally-fertile land.
However, what’s very strange and something you’d never expect is that there is a lush forest full of eucalyptus, mahogany, and teak trees just 10 miles west of the famous Suez Canal.YouTube Source: YouTube
What’s even more fascinating is that this incredible and bountiful forest was created by wastewater.
The 500-acre forest is called Serapium Forest and it’s one of the ancient country’s most prosperous of 36 tracts of land that are part of an innovative and ambitious program to combat desertification. How? By creating sustainably-managed commercial rainforests watered and fed entirely by wastewater.
Serapium Forest is located just a 30-minute drive from the populated city of Ismailia with 400,000 residents. The population of the city produces millions of tons of sewage and sewage water every single year.YouTube Source: YouTube
The wastewater is routed just over a dozen miles from the city to the Serapium Forest where it arrives in huge microorganism-populated underground vats that purify the water.
From there, oxygen is fed into the vats to help accelerate the bacterial purification process. Then, there is a system of pipes that deposits the water throughout the entire forest.
Basically, since the wastewater is a byproduct of human waste, it is very rich in nitrogen and phosphorus even after it’s been purified. Because of this, it’s essentially a fertilizer provided the entire Ismailia population.YouTube Source: YouTube
Because of the success of Serapium Forest, scientists suggest that wastewater couple potentially help the afforestation of 1.6 million acres of desert land in Egypt.
If this land acreage becomes afforested, there is much potential for growing crops and helping the economy. The country’s federal effort is called the “National Program for the Safe Use of Treated Sewage Water for Afforestation,” and the research was supported by Forest Finance, a German forest investment company. Forest Finance has already established near-natural forests in both Panama and Vietnam, helping them with economic development, CO2 absorption, and wildlife conservation.
What Forest Finance would like to do now in Egypt is build a plantation so that the biodiversity of the successful, commercial forest could support a wider array of species and life.YouTube Source: YouTube
People often think desertification is caused by surrounding desert encroaching on fertile land, however, it’s actually human- or drought-created.
Another African effort to help combat desertification is the Great Green Wall Project where ten countries have come together to build a massive patchwork wedge of greenery and vegetation in Africa’s Sahel region—the band of semi-dry yet arable land south of the Sahara desert.Science Alert Source: Science Alert
Africa’s Great Green Wall project has been a massive success in creating jobs, reclaiming land, sequestering carbon, and producing food. What makes it so successful is the fact that they’ve ensured the giant ‘wall’ is a mosaic of different families of plants and different land-use tactics. It does wonders in the face of drought or brush fires.
The Serapium Forest hasn’t reached its full potential yet due to lack of funding but it is still growing and inspiring other countries across the world.
Learn more about the efforts in Egypt in the video below.
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Source: Good News Network