Eucalyptus Helps Reverse Erosion in Mali

BBC News has a story out of Mali in West Africa that describes how a women's co-operative in the village of Kabara, south of Timbuktu, is using underground aquifers to plant eucalyptus trees. In this region where the annual rainfall is less than 400mm, reforestation is essential to return nutrients to the soil, and to prevent erosion by the harsh desert winds.

Though some scientists are worried that the eucalyptus trees will drain large amounts of water out of the soil, Daouda Diarra from the World Food Program in Mali says they are a good choice in the desert environment.

"Eucalyptus is especially recommended for its rapid growth and the protection it gives against strong winds," Mr Diarra told the BBC. "In dry zones, a five-year-old tree's root system actually pumps water back into the water table." Farmers in the region are also developing other methods, like building dirt mounds around a field, to harvest and conserve rainwater and improve food security.

When WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran visited northern Mali last month, she said she was confident that thanks to fairly decent rains and some of these innovations, the food security outlook for this year was decent.

"We now have science and technology to help us create sustainable food systems in all climates," Ms Sheeran told the BBC. :: Via BBC News

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