Tigray (HAN) October 31, 2014 – Public diplomacy and Regional Energy Security and safety news. Sami Grover, Science and Sustainable Agriculture. I recently mused on the fact that conservation is not enough. We need to also focus on restoration and rehabilitation of nature too. So I was delighted to read over at The Guardian about an incredible success story in restoring degraded and deforested land in the Tigray region of Northern Ethiopia.
Abrha Weatsbha in the Tigray region is unrecognisable and an environmental catastrophe has been averted following the planting of many millions of tree and bush seedlings. Wells that were dry have been recharged, the soil is in better shape, fruit trees grow in the valleys and the hillsides are green again.
The “re-greening” of the area, achieved in just a few years for little cost by farming communities working together to close off large areas to animals, save water and replant trees, is now to be replicated across one sixth of Ethiopia – an area the size of England and Wales. The most ambitious attempt yet to reduce soil erosion, increase food security and adapt to climate change is expected to vastly increase the amount of food grown in one of the most drought- and famine-prone areas of the world.
Working together, farming communities have already “regreened” vast areas on the hillsides of Tigray by planting seedlings, restricting grazing and building terraces and walls to hold back soil erosion. Chris Reij, a researcher with the World Resources Institute, told the paper that 224,000 hectares of land have been restored so far.
Even cooler than that, though, is news that Ethiopia pledged at the New York Climate Summit to restore 15m hectares of degraded land by 2030, as part of a pledge involving many nations including Uganda, Chile, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This is good stuff. But we must do more. From flood-stricken Yorkshire villages restoring their hillsides to an Indian engineer planting mini-forests everywhere, there are countless stories out there of people coming together to promote positive, regenerative interaction between humans and nature.
Let’s get to work.
For more on the incredible work done in Tigray so far, check out this trailer for a forthcoming documentary called Ethiopia Rising, by 1080 Film & Television, the same people who created The Man Who Stopped the Desert.
Sami Grover is a writer, and Creative Director at The Change Creation, a brand creation agency that works with entities who make the world better, fairer or truer. Clients include Larry’s Beans, Burt’s Bees, Canaan Fair Trade and Jada Pinkett Smith/Overbrook Entertainment.
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