By Liliana Usvat
History of planting trees
In the 5th century, monks in the then Byzantine Romagna on the Adriatic coast, established a plantation of stone pine to provide fuelwood and food.This was the beginning of the massive forest mentioned by Dante Alighieri in his 1308 poem Divine Comedy.
The practice of establishing tree plantations in the British Isles was promoted by John Evelyn, though it had already acquired some popularity. Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert’s oak Forest of Tronçais, planted for the future use of the French Navy, matured as expected in the mid-19th century: ”
Schools of forestry were established beginning in the late 18th century in Hesse, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Sweden, France and elsewhere in Europe. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, forest preservation programs were established in British India, the United States, and Europe. Many foresters were either from continental Europe (like Sir Dietrich Brandis), or educated there (like Gifford Pinchot).
REVERSING THE DEGRADATION TREND
Afforestation, sand dune fixation and green belts
Afforestation through tree plantation can be a good tool for environmental restoration. During the second half of the twentieth century many forest plantations were established in arid lands all over the world, mostly for protection or for fuelwood production, and the pace of plantation programmes has been speeding up (FAO, 2006a,b). Plantation programmes have used many species (often exotics) and techniques, from low investment (rainfed) to high investment (rainfed with land shaping or irrigated from the water table, deep aquifers or wastewater). The varied successes and failures of such plantations now constitute good sources of information for future activities.
Many countries around the world (e.g. Chile, China, Denmark, France, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mauritania, the Niger, Senegal and Viet Nam) have developed tree plantation techniques for fixation of shifting sands. In arid zones, both local and large national or international schemes apply such techniques to protect productive lands, infrastructures and settlements. Many of the plantations also produce wood and non-wood products.
Many arid zone towns and cities have planted local green belts to protect their population and infrastructures against dust storms and encroaching sands and to influence the microclimate. Arable lands, irrigation schemes, railways, roads, canals and coastal dunes are also being protected through dedicated schemes.
Larger-scale afforestation schemes for land reclamation have a long history; they were implemented in France and Germany in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in the United States after the 1935 Dust Bowl. In Algeria, FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP) started the tree planting programme “Chantiers populaires de reboisement” in 1966. In 1971, Algeria initiated the “Barrage vert”, a planted 20 km–wide belt on the fringe of the Sahara desert intended to stretch 1 500 km from the western to the eastern borders of the country, to comprise 3 million hectares. By 2003 only 100 000 ha had been planted, however, mainly with Pinus halepensis (Belaaz, 2003). Following this national initiative, North African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) started a regional programme, the Arab Magreb Union (UMA) green belt for the north of the Sahara, but since the 1990s there has been little evidence of its activities.
Deforestation contributes to erosion by exposing soils to wind and rain.
When the ground surface is stripped of vegetation, the upper soils are vulnerable to both wind and water erosion. Soil is washed into rivers when it rains, and then out to sea. This destroys the ability for the land to regenerate because it has lost its topsoil. It also destroys marine environments. In several parts of the world, entire sections of countries have been rendered unproductive because of soil loss.
Desertification means means land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including deforestation.
Reforestation also helps to prevent desertification and can reverse desertification trends.
It is a common misconception that droughts cause desertification. In most cases the causes are social and economic, resulting from human intervention in the form of deforestation and over-exploitation of the land. Typically this has involved overgrazing and felling of trees and brushwood for fuel. Increased population and livestock pressure on marginal lands has accelerated desertification. Droughts are common in arid and semiarid lands.
The United Nations believes that reforestation is an effective method for repairing degraded lands and reversing the trend of desertification. In areas with more than 300 mm of rainfall per year for example, dry reforestation can be effective when the plantation site is wisely chosen and stream water collection techniques are applied. Below 300 mm per year, extra watering is required according to the particular features of the intervention area
Deforestation on a human scale results in decline in biodiversity,and on a natural global scale is known to cause the extinction of many species. The removal or destruction of areas of forest cover has resulted in a degraded environment with reduced biodiversity.Forests support biodiversity, providing habitat for wildlife; moreover, forests foster medicinal conservation. With forest biotopes being irreplaceable source of new drugs deforestation can destroy genetic variations (such as crop resistance) irretrievably.
- Protection, restoration and sustainable management of forest resources (Google / ZUNIA) (desertification.wordpress.com)
- Desertification (rearlesy.wordpress.com)
- So long, staples: desertification in northern China threatens affordability of grains worldwide (environmentalchangewestern.wordpress.com)
- Deforestation and the Role of Paper Products (triplepundit.com)
- Is There a “Forest” Under the Desert Outside of Dubai? (greenprophet.com)
- World Food Day (sierraexpressmedia.com)
- Desert plantations could help capture carbon. (zedie.wordpress.com)
- Mongolia has now scientifically acknowledged desertification data (The UB-POST) (desertification.wordpress.com)
- Desertification : Many Success Stories in Africa (Google / allAfrica / DW) (desertification.wordpress.com)
- China combats desertification with shelter forest (thebricspost.com)