How do trees stop desertification

Desertification: Rooting out the Problem Using Trees

World Soil Day is December 5th

More than 1.5 billion people in the world are dependent on degraded land, and about three quarters (74%) of them are impoverished¹.  For 250 million of these people, their plight has a name—desertification².  Desertification³, or land degradation occurring in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, is driven by both natural and man-made factors, and it is leaving farmers across sub-Saharan Africa thirsty for answers.  Desertification is not just scraping at the back door of families in places like West Africa. It is already in their homes and affecting their livelihoods in the most fundamental way.  It is seen in the meals they eat, and the meals they don’t.  In this region where agriculture is the backbone of the economy and land is often a person’s most valuable asset, desertification means devastation. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, has a higher proportion of people living in poverty than any other region in the world, and 80% of these impoverished people depend upon agriculture or farm labor for their livelihoods⁴.

As the land dries up, so does peace.

But it’s not just about livelihoods or even food security.  In places like Nigeria, desertification is a threat to peace.  It is here that competition between nomadic cattle herders and farmers for the land that is increasingly swallowed by the Sahara desert has resulted in a conflict between the groups that has proven more deadly than Boko Haram⁵. Similarly, in Ghana, Fulani herdsmen from neighboring countries who have been forced to migrate in search of pasture have been destroying property across local villages⁶. As the land dries up, so does peace.

Desertification is not just their problem.  It is all of ours.  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that by 2050, there will be one third more mouths to feed and that global food supply will need to increase by about 70% to feed them⁷. In a world where we are losing both agricultural land and farmers to urbanization, efficiency gains will need to be made on the land we already have, that we cannot afford to lose any more, and that some of the land that has already been lost will need to be restored.  Africa will be a key piece of the solution.

In the semi-arid places of West Africa, such as in Senegal where Trees for the Future works, the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the Sahara Desert is encroaching at a rate of five kilometers per year. 

“Photo credit: NASA”

So what can be done?  In order to answer this question, we must understand the drivers of desertification, which are both environmental and man-made.  Many forces that propel serious desertification from across the world are related to larger global environmental processes like climate change and natural disasters such as drought⁸. We have also seen initiatives along the “Great Green Wall” route across Africa where governments and organizations have planted massive bands of Eucalyptus trees, which have been shown to actually dry out the groundwater tables. In our experience, and that of others, like the World Agroforestry Centre,  this is the wrong approach using the wrong type of tree in the wrong place⁹. Combatting desertification from natural processes using trees shown to further degrade the soil is not going to work.

On the human side, the causes have more to do with practices¹⁰.  If you zoom in on Google Earth to view many of the cities located in arid lands along the south side of the Sahara Desert, you see a ring of desert growing around those towns from overgrazing, groundwater overdraft, certain tillage practices such as the removal of vegetative cover, and deforestation. Farming, land use change, unsustainable land use practices all contribute to a loss of soil moisture content and increase the vulnerability of land to the gradual forces of desertification.  These practices are inextricably linked to poverty, and so the solutions must be, too.

These practices are inextricably linked to poverty, and so the solutions must be, too. Trees for the Future knows this…

Trees for the Future knows this, and that is why it promotes solutions for farmers that are not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically viable. Through its Forest Garden Program, Trees for the Future works at the nexus of all of these drivers of desertification.  By training farmers and giving them the tools to establish vibrant Forest Gardens, or agroforestry systems on one to two hectares of land, Trees for the Future provides families with the means to achieve sustainable food sources, secure sufficient livestock feed, grow products for market and improved livelihoods, enrich their diets, and thrive on land that had been previously parched and withered.  These trees not only provide cover to help farmers retain the soil moisture content that the process of desertification tries to reap, but also supply a wealth of co-benefits, contributing to ecological and dietary diversity, carbon sequestration, and improved soil fertility for farmers facing expensive fertilizer markets.  Trees for the Future truly works on behalf of the poorest farmers to create a socially, economically, and environmentally resilient world, protecting farmers and their families from crises of climate, personal finance, and health.

“Senegalese farmers plant a variety of multi-purpose trees and plants that help to halt desertification and bring food, fodder, and income to their family.”

On the farm it is incredible to see the transformation that planting the right trees can bring about. Through their roots, trees fix nitrogen in the soil and promote the growth of many fungi and other microbes necessary for soil health. This biodiversity makes many nutrients available for vegetation to intake and vice versa. The leaf litter that many agroforestry trees drop help to build topsoils. This organic material mixed into the topsoil encourages biodiversity to flourish and helps soil trap moisture that sustains life in dry times. Every farmer in Trees for the Future’s program plants thousands of trees, many of which are nitrogen-fixing trees that revitalize tired soils.

Trees for the Future also accomplishes these monumental tasks in a way that is affordable.  Even scholars agree that agroforestry systems are one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to improve soil health¹¹, and Trees for the Future is accomplishing this with our Forest Garden Approach.  In the semi-arid places of West Africa where the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the Sahara Desert is moving at an annual rate of five kilometers—a dusty frontline that smothers livelihoods and robs families of fertile land—the solutions need to move faster.  Proactive measures need to be taken to protect households from environmental and economic shock, and investments need to be made in the future of the land and people.  Trees for the Future has invested in thousands of farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and helped to approve the lives of more than 26,000 people – all through the power of trees. The work of TREES is literally grounded in a philosophy of advancing soil health, food security, climatic stability, nutrition, and ultimately, peace.

It’s time to stop treating our soil like dirt

Click here to stop treating our soil like dirt, combat desertification, and support more farmers across Africa.


1) http://www.
5) NewAfrican, Issue 562, June 2016 (in print only and purchased in Dakar, but website for publication is
6) (Marc, Alexandre, Neelam Verjee, and Stephen Mogaka. The Challenge of Stability and Security in West Africa.)

11) Cheikh Mbow, Meine Van Noordwijk, Eike Luedeling, Henry Neufeldt, Peter A Minang, Godwin Kowero, Agroforestry solutions to address food security and climate change challenges in Africa, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 6, February 2014, Pages 61-67, ISSN 1877-3435, http://dx.

The “Great Green Wall” Didn’t Stop Desertification, but it Evolved Into Something That Might | Science

A farmer in southern Zinder, Niger, collects leaves that will feed his sheep. Chris Reij

It was a simple plan to combat a complex problem. The plan: plant a Great Green Wall of trees 10 miles wide and 4,350 miles long, bisecting a dozen countries from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. The problem: the creeping desertification across Africa. 

“The desert is a spreading cancer,” Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal's president and the wall's standard bearer, said. “We must fight it. That is why we have decided to join in this titanic battle.”

There were just a few problems.

Planting trees across the Sahel, the arid savanna on the south border of the Sahara Desert, had no chance to succeed. There was little funding. There was no science suggesting it would work. Moreover, the desert was not actually moving south; instead, overuse was denuding the land. Large chunks of the proposed "wall" were uninhabited, meaning no one would be there to care for the saplings.

Soon after Wade began touting the tree planting plan, scientists began dissenting.

"This was a stupid way of restoring land in the Sahel," says Dennis Garrity, a senior research fellow at the World Agroforestry Centre.

"If all the trees that had been planted in the Sahara since the early 1980s had survived, it would look like Amazonia," adds Chris Reij, a sustainable land management specialist and senior fellow at the World Resources Institutewho has been working in Africa since 1978. "Essentially 80 percent or more of planted trees have died."

Reij, Garrity and other scientists working on the ground knew what Wade and other political leaders did not: that farmers in Niger and Burkina Faso, in particular, had discovered a cheap, effective way to regreen the Sahel. They did so by using simple water harvesting techniques and protecting trees that emerged naturally on their farms.

Slowly, the idea of a Great Green Wall has changed into a program centered around indigenous land use techniques, not planting a forest on the edge of a desert. The African Union and the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization now refer to it as "Africa’s flagship initiative to combat land degradation, desertification and drought." Incredibly, the Great Green Wall—or some form of it—appears to be working.

"We moved the vision of the Great Green Wall from one that was impractical to one that was practical," says Mohamed Bakarr, the lead environmental specialist for Global Environment Facility, the organization that examines the environmental benefit of World Bank projects. "It is not necessarily a physical wall, but rather a mosaic of land use practices that ultimately will meet the expectations of a wall. It has been transformed into a metaphorical thing. "

An aerial view of agroforestry management practices in Niger in 2004. USGS

The Sahel spans 3,360 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian Ocean, a belt stretching across the southern edge of the Sahara. Rainfall is low, from four to 24 inches per year, and droughts are frequent. Climate change means greater extremes of rainfall as the population skyrockets in the region, one of the poorest in the world. Food security is an urgent concern. By 2050, the population could leap to 340 million, up from 30 million in 1950 and 135 million today.

Reij, now based in Amsterdam, began working in the Sahel when the soil literally was blowing away during dust storms. After years away, Reij returned to Niger and Burkina Faso in the summer of 2004. He was stunned by what he saw, green where there had been nothing but tan, denuded land. He quickly secured funding for the first of several studies looking at farming in villages throughout Burkina Faso and Niger.

For help, he called on another veteran of Africa, Gray Tappan, a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey's West Africa Land Use and Land Cover Trends Project. Flying over villages and then driving from one to the other, Tappan says they were “charmed” by what they saw. On the ground, they couldn’t see villages from a distance because there was too much vegetation. 

Over two years traveling through Burkina Faso and Niger, they uncovered a remarkable metamorphosis. Hundreds of thousands of farmers had embraced ingenious modifications of traditional agriculture practices, transforming large swaths into productive land, improving food and fuel production for about 3 million people.

"This regreening went on under our radar, everyone's radar, because we weren't using detailed enough satellite imagery. We were looking at general land use patterns, but we couldn't see the trees," Tappan says. "When we began to do aerial photography and field surveys, then we realized, boy, there is something very, very special going on here. These landscapes are really being transformed."

Reforestation surrounding the town of Galma in Niger seen in this image comparing tree cover in 1975 with 2003. Courtesy Gray Tappan, USGS

Innovative farmers in Burkina Faso had adapted years earlier by necessity. They built zai, a grid of deep planting pits across rock-hard plots of land that enhanced water infiltration and retention during dry periods. They built stone barriers around fields to contain runoff and increase infiltration from rain.

In Niger, Reij and Tappan discovered what has become a central part of the new Great Green Wall campaign: farmer-managed natural regeneration, a middle ground between clearing the land and letting it go wild.

Farmers in the Sahel had learned from French colonists to clear land for agriculture and keep crops separate from trees. Under French colonial law and new laws that countries adopted after independence, any trees on a farmer's property belonged to the government. Farmers who cut down a tree for fuel would be threatened with jail. The idea was to preserve forests; it had the opposite effect.

"This was a terrific negative incentive to have a tree," Garrity says, during an interview from his Nairobi office. "For years and years, tree populations were declining."

But over decades without the shelter of trees, the topsoil dried up and blew away. Rainfall ran off instead of soaking into cropland. When Reij arrived in Africa, crop yields were less than 400 pounds per acre (compared to 5,600 pounds per acre in the United States) and water levels in wells were dropping by three feet per year.

In the early 1980s, as village populations increased and land productivity decreased, Reij says farmers turned to a low-cost way of growing trees and shrubs, using root stock in their cleared fields. The trees provided fuel, fodder for livestock, food, and soil improvement.

When Tappan compared aerial images he took in 2004 with those from as far back as 1950, he was blown away. Huge swaths once tan were green. Niger’s Zinder Valley had 50 times more trees than it did in 1975.

To figure out how the practice became widespread, Reij and Tappan did a bit of cultural archaeology. They learned it had originated with Tony Rinaudo, an Australian with Serving in Mission, a religious nonprofit. Rinaudo, working with local farmers, had helped the farmers identify useful species of trees in the stumps in their fields, protect them, and then prune them to promote growth. Farmers grew other crops around the trees.

Rinaudo returned to Australia in 1999, unaware of the extensive effect of his work (Reij would not meet him until 2006 when they began working on regreening initiatives). By the time Reij and Tappan took their first trip across part of Niger, farmer regeneration had been shared, from farmer to farmer, for about three decades. "We were mesmerized by what we were seeing," Tappan says of that first trip. "It was stunning to see the amount of work in terms of soil and water conservation, water harvesting practices as well as natural regeneration of trees. "

Garrity recalls walking through farms in Niger, fields of grains like millet and sorghum stretching to the sun planted around trees, anywhere from a handful to 80 per acre. “In most cases, the trees are in random locations because they sprouted and the farmer protected them and let them grow,” he says. The trees can be cut for fuel, freeing women who once spent two and a half hours a day collecting wood to do other tasks. They can be pruned for livestock fodder. Their leaves and fruit are nutritious.

Women spend less time retrieving firewood when trees are nearer to their land. Chris Reij

One tree, Faidherbia albida, goes dormant during the wet season when most trees grow. When the rains begin, the trees defoliate, dropping leaves that fertilize the soil. Because they have dropped their leaves, the trees do not shade crops during the growing season. Their value had long been recognized by farmers, he says, but they were never encouraged to use them.

Reij and Tappan discovered the regreening mostly stopped at the southern border with Nigeria, where there is more rainfall, which was counterintuitive, Tappan says. More precipitation should mean more vegetation. "It wasn't about rainfall," he adds. "It was absolutely about farmers changing the way they manage trees and their perception of the trees."

Tappan remembers giving a presentation to the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger, showing aerial views of one green swath after another. "The comments were, 'this can't be Niger,'" he says. "It looks like Ireland."

From 2004 on, they published a series of research papers and reports sounding the call about the transformation. Reij says that by 2011, there were more than 12 million acres restored in Niger alone. More than 1.2 million were restored in Mali, but no one knew until 2010 because no one looked.

The key, Reij says, is scaling up the effort in the drylands countries by building up grassroots efforts, addressing the legal issues (like tree ownership), and creating markets for the products of agroforestry. "We've never seen anything near this size and impact on the environment anywhere in west Africa," Tappan adds. "In our mind Niger already has its great green wall. It's only a matter of scaling it up."

Reij says the World Bank—which has committed $1.2 billion to the effort—the Global Environment Facility and others are convinced natural regeneration is an important way forward, but the approaches are up to each country. At the African Union, Elvis Paul Tangem, coordinator of the Great Green Wall for the Sahara and Sahel Initiative, says that 21 countries now have projects within the framework of the initiative.

Tangem concedes that projects in countries like Niger, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and Mali are much more advanced than others. Cameroon and Ghana, he adds in an interview from his office in Addis Ababa, began work just this year.

Reij says the answer lies with helping farmers do what they're already doing and spreading the word."If you want to regreen, do it quickly and effectively and at a reasonable cost, the only way forward is natural regeneration on farms," Reij says from his office in Amsterdam. "Put responsibility in the hands of the farmers. They know what their best interests are. Conventional projects will not make a difference here."

He laments that work is moving too slowly. With the Sahel's population doubling in 20 years, Reij says regreening needs to be finished within 10 to 15 years.

"But looking at what has been achieved in the last 20 years in the Sahel, the large-scale restoration in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali,” he adds, “I am more optimistic now than when I started working in the Sahel in 1978."

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Stop desertification. Conversation with Academician K.N. Kulik

Photo: Evgeny Antonov, Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Desertification - major threat biodiversity on earth. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Programmes), a quarter of our land mass is under the threat of desertification. Total in worldwide desertification over 2 billion ha . This figure increases by 12 million hectares annually. As a result of declining productivity of arable land and pastures there is a threat to the existence of more than 1 billion people in more than 100 countries of the world.

How does natural desertification differ from anthropogenic desertification? How managed to save the Republic of Kalmykia from becoming a total desert? What can be done today to stop the destructive soil degradation process? About this and much more "Scientific Russia" told Konstantin Nikolaevich KULIK - Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Honored Worker of Science of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Kalmykia, chief scientific employee of the Federal Scientific Center for Agroecology RAS ( Volgograd) .

Konstantin Nikolaevich Kulik — developer of the theoretical foundations of landscape agroforestry, agroforestry mapping, aerospace research methods in agroforestry and protective afforestation. Author (co-author) of more than 430 scientific papers, including 30 monographs.

What is desertification?

— According to the UNEP official definition, desertification is — is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas of the earth as a result of natural and, of course, anthropogenic factors. And their joint manifestation in times exacerbates desertification processes. land degradation can be very strong, strong, medium or moderate, weak. It is a strong and very strong land degradation that is accepted call desertification.

Territories subject to this stage are usually referred to as zones ecological disaster. Desertification is especially destructive in arid areas with their characteristic fragile, easily collapsing ecosystems. Destruction of vegetation due to overgrazing livestock, cutting down trees and shrubs, plowing land, unsuitable for agriculture, and other types economic activity that violates fragile balance in nature, multiply the effect of wind and water erosion, drying up of the upper layers of the soil. The water balance is sharply disturbed, the level of groundwater is decreasing, wells dry up. Soil structure is being destroyed, their saturation with mineral salts increases. Decreased bioproductivity of ecosystems.

Therefore, desertification is a major economic, social and environmental problem for many countries in all continents of the earth. Over the past decades, processes desertification intensified due to the sharp intensification nature management and climate change both globally and on a regional scale. Moreover, this is typical not only for Russia, but also for the whole world: these are African countries, and countries Southeast Asia, etc. In Europe, especially southern, this process is also observed.

In Russia, 28 regions are subject to desertification processes. This is the south Russia, Western Siberia, Southern Urals, Altai Territory, Transbaikalia, etc. By the way, in Soviet times, we had such a position that there is no desertification in the Soviet Union, its simply does not exist, and this problem was constantly circumvented side. And only since 1977, after the conference UN to Combat Desertification, they started talking about the fact that in USSR, in particular in Central Asia, these processes on the face. At 19In 1994, the United Nations adopted the Convention against desertification, and in 1997, after being signed by 50 countries, it entered into force. Russia joined this convention in 2003 year.

- Desertification is more prone to steppe territory?

— The regions most prone to desertification are located in arid, subarid, dry sub-humid and partly in humid zones Russia. In other words, it is a forest-steppe, steppe, semi-desert - the main grain belt of the country. In the administrative respect, these are the Astrakhan, Volgograd, Rostov regions, and also Kalmykia, Dagestan, Stavropol Territory, Kuban (partly), Saratov, Orenburg, etc. According to VNIALMI, only at the expense of negative impact of a complex of natural and anthropogenic factors Russia annually lacks up to 47. 3 million tons of products crop production in grain equivalent.

By the way, desertification exists not only in the south, but even in tundra, where ecosystems degrade to a complete cessation bioproductivity due to technogenesis and the appearance of sand dunes in the floodplain of the Lena River, in Yamal, the north of Western Siberia, the Kola peninsula, etc. That is, this process does not know natural restrictions.

As a result of anthropogenic impact, especially on such fragile territories that painfully react to external interference, in these places will definitely manifest desertification processes. One of the most important causes of desertification and degradation of the agrosphere is a decrease in the area of ​​forests. So, the forest cover of the chernozem belt of Russia for 150 years has decreased from 38-40 to 6-15%, and the drainage basins of large rivers from 30-40 to 10-30%. The gene pool of many tree and shrub species. Reduction forests against the backdrop of increased industrial and industrial transport pollution (emission of harmful substances only from stationary sources reaches 32 million tons/year) led to deformation of the structure of heat and moisture exchange, violation radiation balance of agricultural landscapes, weakening their regulatory and recovery potential. For this reason incoming solar energy has largely become spent not on the synthesis of organic matter, but on overheating and dehydration of the territory, that is, the formation of more frequent and intense droughts and dry winds. In the Volga region and the Central Chernozem region, almost everyone the second - the third year became arid, the danger increased occurrence of dust storms. Climatologists predict future complication of agro-ecological conditions in connection with the prospect global warming climate, increase in the atmosphere CO 9 concentration0069 2 and other greenhouse gases.

What kind of desertification processes can we see in the most vulnerable regions of Russia?

- First of all - water erosion: the development of ravines, planar washout, washout of agricultural lands. Second in the significance of the process is deflation (or wind erosion): blowing topsoil from the fields, which can be far carried by wind currents. The third kind is secondary salinization, swamping of territories due to immoderate and improper irrigation.

In the last century, a sharp increase in anthropogenic impact on the biosphere led to warming, aridization of the climate and desertification of territories, degradation and destruction of soils, violation variety of functional relationships in nature, the ability ecosystems of the agrosphere to self-regulation and natural recovery.

The negative agroecological situation is exacerbated by high the degree of plowing and low forest cover of agricultural lands.

In Russia, the degradation of land resources.

In the main agricultural areas of the country, where the plowing of farmland has long exceeded the permissible limits and reaches 60-90%, they are such that in the coming decades possible crisis of ecology and economy of the agricultural sector of such scale, the elimination of the consequences of which will require costs and strain of productive forces comparable to the costs of eliminating the consequences of major disasters or local wars. So, at present 65% of arable land, 28% of hayfields and 50% of the area of ​​pastures are subject to destructive, sometimes joint, the effects of erosion, deflation, periodic droughts and dry winds.

— And how long does it take for the soil to recover? Is it true that for in order to restore the soil layer (which has been affected by erosion) with a thickness of, say, 2-2.5 cm, it will take about 500 years?

Yes, that's right, and even more than that. Our unique black soil were formed over millennia, and we destroyed them in some a short historical period of 150-200 years. Naturally, even for 500 and 1000 years the soil in the form in which it formed from the beginning, will not return. With intensive exploitation of land resources, we must definitely think about what we leave for future generations. Either we leave the Sahara with us in the south of Russia, or we must come to our senses and deal with restoration of soil fertility through the use of modern and resource-saving adaptive agricultural technologies.

- But the Sahara was also once a blooming green edge?

- Yes. In the Holocene, about 10 thousand years ago, there was savannah. But the process of desertification in the Sahara was not associated with anthropogenic influence, but with general global changes climate: the course of the Gulf Stream has changed, respectively the global and regional circulation of air masses has changed, there was a decrease in precipitation, etc.

- Are there any examples of man-made desert?

- Of course. The most striking example is the Republic of Kalmykia, where desertification occurred with the direct participation of man. This is the period from the 1950s to the early 1990s, it was the only man-made desert in Europe! BUT blame for everything - the strongest overgrazing, the strongest plowing of lands in the era of virgin lands uplift. Late 1950s-early 60s, all plowed lands flew into the air and settled somewhere in France, in the Atlantic Ocean. Here are the processes there were deflation at the time! As a result, about one million hectares of open sands. It was real disaster and catastrophe: villages, farms, dead cattle fell asleep. The public, scientists began to sound the alarm. Then there was adopted by the Soviet authorities the General Plan for Combating desertification of the Black Lands, Kizlyar pastures, were proposed urgent organizational and reclamation measures that allowed prevent further transformation of this territory into desert. The two main activities that allowed to stabilize the situation is the withdrawal of livestock from these areas, that is, reducing the load to allowable, and phytomelioration - fixing moving sands trees, shrubs, herbs, etc. Thanks to these measures managed to prevent dangerous avalanche-like desertification.

— And how are they struggling with the processes of desertification in our days?

— The main, most environmentally friendly and economical method is forest and phytomelioration. It was in VNIALMI that a unique technology of fixing open sands by planting and sowing phytomeliorants (dzhuzgun, teresken, sandy oats, kumarchik and etc.)

I would like to say a few words about protective afforestation. Now it is difficult for a modern person to imagine in the south of Russia fields without edging forest belts, but literally 70-80 years this was not the case back. Science data and long-term practice agriculture and animal husbandry in the forest-steppe, steppe and semi-desert areas convince of the possibility of effectively to counteract many negative phenomena that have begun a complex of biological and reclamation measures, organizing which is based on the creation of systems of interacting protective forest plantations.

The steppe zone is our main grain belt, in which about 80% of the grain of the Russian Federation is produced. That's why it is necessary to exploit this land in such a way that it does not only now brought the maximum harvest, but also remained for future generations. Based on this, protective afforestation is an important element of the state environmental conservation strategies, rational use and enhancement of natural resource potential country, solving the problems of its environmental and food security.

- Konstantin Nikolaevich, are there many young people in Russia professionals interested in soil conservation issues, protective afforestation?

There are specialists, but not many. Leading figures in this area, prominent scientists and my teachers are already leaving, unfortunately. Our age the limit is also suitable, it is clear that we are not eternal. In Russia to Unfortunately, there was an age gap between the scientists and novice specialists, and it is approximately 20-25 years old. The youth came to our center thanks to the leadership and active support of the Ministry of Education and Science. Organized two youth laboratories. But you yourself understand that the young man you need to learn, and this is a very long process. The question is Who will train them and how? Soon we will leave, and teach them, perhaps there will be no one. That's why I always say that there the support of scientific schools is needed. That is, it is necessary to support the generation that is now passing away and the youth that must learn from us and our colleagues. Then there will be an opportunity to continue these great and most responsible conservation works our unique Russian nature, while receiving good crops and income from agriculture.

Interviewed by Yanina Huzhina. All information slides provided by K.N. Kulik. Photos in the material: Eugene Antonov (Institute of Geography RAS),,


● "Global climate and soil cover of Russia. Desertification and land degradation, institutional, infrastructural, technological adaptation measures (agriculture and forestry). National report, Moscow, MBA, 2019g. Ed. R.S. Edelgerieva

● "Desertification and integrated reclamation of agricultural landscapes arid zone". K.N. Kulik, E.B. Gabunshina, I.P. Kruzhilin, G.S. Kust et al., 2007

● "Agroforestry mapping and phytoecological assessment of arid landscapes", K.N. Kulik, Volgograd, 2004

● "Strategy for the development of protective afforestation in the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025", document by K.N. Kulik et al., Volgograd, 2018.

● United Nations Convention on Combating with desertification

● Presentation by K.N. Kulik "On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the resolution "On the Plan field-protective afforestation..."

●Presentation K.N. Kulik "History and Modernity of the General Scheme for Combating desertification of black lands and Kizlyar pastures"

Forest belts can stop dust storms and desertification in Ukraine

NGO "Ekoltava" implemented a pilot project #Revival of Forest Belts

Forest belts play an important role in protecting against dry winds and dust storms, as well as preventing soil erosion and increasing crop yields. However, many of them have now been destroyed.

How to revive the forest belts and, accordingly, avoid dust storms and desertification, - told in the material of the Ukrainian Climate Network.

It is noted that taking into account climate change and the need for adaptation, the areas under forest belts in Ukraine should grow.

"Forest belts are man-made forest plantations that are perfectly integrated into ecosystems and often are the only focus of wildlife among Ukrainian agricultural landscapes, forest belts are an element of an eco-network, and this is approved in the Law of Ukraine on Eco-Network," said the co-founder and executive director of the Peli Charitable Foundation can live Yana Bobrova.

In order to promote the role of forest belts and the importance of their conservation and restoration, the Pelicanlive Foundation created the #Forest Belts of Life project in December 2019.

In cooperation with the Peli can live foundation and the team of the #ForestbeltsLife project, the NGO "Ekoltava" implemented a pilot project #Revival ofForestbelts.

Two communities in the Poltava region were chosen to participate in it by competition: Gradyzhskaya and Novoselovskaya.

"The essence of the project is to conduct a study of the state of the forest belts, develop a restoration plan and start implementing the plan together with the community," said Maxim Makukha, project manager and expert of the NGO "Ekoltava." We collected old maps from the times of the USSR, where forest belts were previously planted centrally, and they were subordinated to collective farms, then the agricultural land was divided into shares, and the forest belts remained virtually draws.With the help of GIS technology, we conducted our study, actually superimposed layers and compared the current state of forest belts on the territory of communities ( modern satellite images) with what was (land management documentation and maps of the Soviet era)".

As a result, it turned out that about 10% of the areas of forest belts were destroyed in the Gradizhskaya community, and 5% in the Novoselovskaya community.

How to plant forest belts

In cooperation with the Pyryatynsky National Nature Park, the Pyryatynsky hromada of the Poltava region and with the financial support of Winner Group Ukraine, the Peli can live charity fund restored 2.2 hectares of forest belt next to the park owned by the Emerald Network. So, in the spring of 2021, near the village of Kharkivtsy, seedlings of pears, apple trees, apricots, cherries, plums, as well as bushes of viburnum, hawthorn, svidina and wild rose, and 9000 acorns.

Representatives of the community were preparing the forest belt for planting: they cleared, made holes for seedlings, crushed the branches that they found in the forest belt to get mulch and provide watering.

"Usually we try to preserve old trees as much as possible, because they create their own microclimate until young trees grow," said Yana Bobrova. "The stumps provided shelter and food for young oak trees sprouted from acorns. Wild fruit trees and bushes were chosen in the outer rows to also create a food base for birds and squirrels. "

Having gained practical experience, the community has independently continued the project to restore new sections of the forest belt.

Where to get seedlings

You can buy them, but the communities do not always have the funds for this.

"You can look for 1-3-year-old sprouts in the forest, and perhaps the residents of the community have sprouts on their plots that they can share, especially for fruit trees and bushes," Bobrova noted.

The expert emphasized the importance of involving professionals in the planning of forest belts, because forest belts must fulfill their field protection functions.

“Different factors can influence the range of trees in a forest belt, from its geographical location to the composition of the soil,” she said. – Both of our forest belts were planned in advance by the scientific consultant of the "Forest belts of Life" project, associate professor of the department of forest reproduction and forest reclamation at NUBIP Anna Lobchenko.

Head of the "Revival of forest belts" project Maxim Makukha noted that the first and main stage of the revival of forest belts is their inventory to determine their area and provide them with proper land use status.

"The restoration of each forest belt requires the involvement of the community, first of all, because it is the UTC that has the right to take the forest belt on balance or lease it to the farmer," Makukha explained.

Although the rules for maintaining forest belts have been approved, they are not easy to implement by communities, so farmers are in no hurry to take on this responsibility.

It is noted that hromadas are stopped by the fact that land management services are not cheap, about 7 thousand UAH/ha, so sometimes forest belts are restored without paperwork. Charitable foundations and enterprises sometimes help to carry out an inventory, as was the case with the Pyriatyn community, where an inventory of 2.

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