What is the Sahel?
The frontier between desert and life
The Sahel is a strip of land several hundred kilometres wide, stretching from Mauritania to Ethiopia. It represents the boundary between the Sahara desert and the savannah.
In recent decades this strip has shifted southwards, expanding the desert and displacing entire communities due to drought and climate change.
To combat the encroachment of the desert, the African Union created the Great Green Wall initiative in 2007.
What is the Great Green Wall?
Africa’s response to the Sahara advance
Launched in 2007 by the African Union, the Great Green Wall represents an ambitious global project to restore the ecosystem along an 8,000km stretch of land with the aim of slowing the advance of the desert and offering local communities the opportunity to create a prosperous future.
Vegetation and forests provide a host of ecosystem services, from water harvesting to the provision of food and materials, generating wealth in a virtuous circle where humans thrive in harmony with the ecosystem that sustains them.
In addition, forests act as carbon sinks, which is a strong incentive to encourage afforestation in the context of climate change.
The Desert Leaves and EWF project
Desert Leaves is aware of the great potential this project has to improve the lives of millions of people, which is why, in partnership with EWF, they have teamed up on the Sahel and Great Green Wall Challenge.
The challenge is to afforest 1,000 hectares in Senegal with 300,000 trees by the end of 2024.
This project does not simply aim to establish a forest where there was none before, but will select species and management methods that will bring an economic return to local communities in the medium and long term, increasing productivity in all primary sectors, both agricultural and silvopastoral.
The implementation of the project will also involve the local communities, whose participation and commitment is key to a successful outcome, as it is they who provide the materials and labour.
How the project improves people’s lives
During implementation the project will provide decent work through:
- The purchase of 2,600kg of seeds from local seed collectors, mostly women.
- The purchase of manure
- The hiring of 13,000 paid hours dedicated to soil pre-treatment, grain preparation and sowing.
- Fencing of plots dedicated to horticultural activities and preservation of grass for seed collection.
Once the forest has grown, it will generate sustainable economic activity for local people:
- Production of gum arabic from Acacia senegal, of oils and sabon from the fruits of Balanites aegyptiaca, the processing of leaves and fruits of Moringa oleifera, or the production of Sahel apple from Zizyphus mauritania.
- A source of food for livestock and people in times of scarcity.
The development of the local economy will be possible thanks to agroforestry products:
- Industrial activity: grasses are also transformed into baskets, mats and brushes.
- Flowering trees and grasses under the trees make it possible to collect honey.
- Local processing of gum arabic, argan, etc. can be initiated.
- In short: an emerging economy, truly prosperity-creating, will be generated.
Why invest in this project
What are the drivers of demand?
Increased regulatory pressure on companies to decarbonise and make net zero emission commitments.
End consumers are more demanding and increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability.
Why invest in afforestation?
Afforestation projects are the most efficient carbon reduction activity and are increasingly demanded by large and medium-sized companies, motivated by ESG criteria or decarbonisation commitments.
As the forest grows, the annual amount of CO2 captured increases. That is why it is key to enter the project early enough to have a carbon sink in place when legislation requires offsetting.
Why invest in this project?
The project will benefit from the Early Mover Advantage and 15 years of experience in reforestation.
It is based on high quality local reforestation projects using proven technologies.
Economies of scale and marketing flexibility allow OZG+Desert Leaves to generate profits in the form of competitively priced carbon credits, at a price of 13 euros per tonne of CO2,
OZG and Desert Leaves follow up annually with detailed project progress and forest condition reports to measure and certify its carbon sequestration function.
Desert Leaves can assist the investor with customised marketing material on the investment and its ESG benefits.
How the world benefits from this project
We capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas in terms of overall contribution to global warming. By capturing carbon dioxide in the form of biomass that is preserved for decades, we effectively contribute to reducing global warming.
Based on measurements from our previous projects in the Sahel region, we have determined that this project will sequester 70,000 tonnes of CO2 over 30 years.
With our project, we are setting a positive chain reaction in motion:
Our forests form a green buffer zone. Trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses reduce wind erosion of the soil, and the trees provide shade, protecting the soil from drying out.
Biodiversity increases, both in flora and fauna. Ants, termites, birds, the endangered Sulcata tortoise, rabbits, hares, other small rodents…. Even the wildcat and the hyena, which have not been seen for a long time, return to their original habitat.
Vegetation improves the permeability of the soil, which means more rainwater infiltration and less run-off. This increases vegetation growth, again improving soil permeability. This cycle of improved rainwater harvesting reduces the need for irrigation, which is normally extracted from fossil water layers, safeguarding this fossil water for future generations. The groundwater level rises, allowing wells to be upgraded.
Desert Leaves is a non-governmental organization that supports initiatives that pursuit the growth of sustainable forests in drylands
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