The Sahara Desert is the world’s largest desert at a size of 3.55 million square miles. And over the last century, it has been expanding its lead. During this time, the desert has grown by 10% since 1920.
Scientists believe this expansion is the result of both natural climate cycles and stem from worsening climate conditions from human influence. The most severe point in which the desert grew was during the 1970s-1980s period.
During this time, the border of the Sahara Desert suffered from an intense drought. This caused the vegetation to wither away, and the desert expanded into the land.
However, the African Union has a plan to build a green wall.
What’s A Green Wall?
The Great Green Wall or Great Green Wall of the Sahara is an initiative that just raised over 14 billion dollars in new funding this January. Although, this is not even half of the funding necessary. The UN priced the entire project at 33 billion dollars.
So what exactly is a green wall?
The green wall is a collection of plants and vegetation that will span across the entire width of Africa. In total, it will be 8,000 km and also become the largest living structure on Earth.
The trees and vegetation that will be planted will vary based on the location. Thus, you will find different species throughout the wall. This will ensure the plants are more likely to thrive in their own environment.
The project’s goal is to complete the structure by 2030 and construction is already underway.
How Does A Green Wall Stop the Sahara Desert Expansion?
So, I know what your thinking, this sounds nice, but how does it help?
By properly revegetating and restoring over 100 million hectares of land, it will prevent the Sahara Desert from expanding past the wall. The project could even lead to desert restoration projects for the affected lands.
Of course, as a huge undertaking, the Great Green Wall also has other advantages.
It is estimated to create over 350,000 new jobs and will even be a sight of tourism in the future. After all, who doesn’t want to see part of the largest living structure in the world?
The project is intended to ensure the region preserves its existing fertile lands, create jobs, and bring in new revenue.
Why Does It Cost So Much?
You may be wondering why it costs so much to plant trees and other vegetation?
And while a lot of vegetation will be planted, the real cost is the environment.
Planting a tree or plant is the easy and cheap part. However, growing the plants in an environment that is naturally dry and lacks rain is anything but simple or affordable.
Maintaining 8,000 km of land is no small undertaking and will be costly.
However, the project is likely to create revenue for the countries involved, which will be able to sustain the expenses.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.