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June 27, 2011

Senegal farmers fight desertification with trees

by George Fominyen

Dame Diop looks at the green leaves of trees growing on the sandy Sahelian soil of his Senegal village, Khatre Sy, and says...“The trees had disappeared because of many droughts and also because people were cutting them for firewood and for fodder for livestock,” he added. “We felt we would not survive if this desertification continued so we decided to act.”

The people...decided to pool their farmlands together and zone off sections to allow trees – mainly varieties of the African acacia – to regenerate. They used some of the regeneration sites as farmlands where they planted crops – groundnuts, millet and sorghum.

During the rainy season, crops are planted and can get nitrogen from falling leaves as the trees enter dormancy, while the tree’s bare branches don’t block sunlight. The trees also produce seed pods which are used as fodder for livestock.

The result of the initiative is growing hectares of parkland – agro-forests – which some researchers see as vital in providing a barrier against desertification in the semi-arid Sahel region which runs south of the Sahara desert.

full article...Alertnet

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