In Egypt, scientists grew a forest in the heart of the desert. By reusing the waste water of the neighboring city, Ismailia, the team found a solution to use the necessary water for the survival of trees. The sun takes care of the rest…
This is not an illusion. This is real! Some hours away from Cairo, there is a new small forest called Serapeum. Unlike the world tendency where forests are decreasing, this 200 ha forest does not cease to grow in height as well as in surface.
Behind this remarkable initiative, there is a team of Egyptian scientists backed by the German Bureau for University exchanges. Since the work has started fifteen years ago, the forest has not stopped developing thanks to the achievements and the efforts undertaken there since the first day.
A forest irrigated with waste water
In a desert where rain and ground waters are rare, the first challenge was to find a solution for irrigation. That is how the team of scientists has thought of treating neighboring city Ismailia’s waste water and directing it to Serapeum. Thanks to its phosphate and nitrogen content, this water happened to be very beneficial for growing trees. While its role was almost reduced to nothing, treated water played a major role in turning that piece of forest green.
Fast growing trees
Another observation by scientists states that trees grow with a fast pace thanks to sunshine. Serapeum trees grow three times faster than trees in Germany for example. An impressive result for a zone where rain is quasi inexistent and where no drinking water was wasted!
A fascinating initiative
With the results they received, the scientists of the project are closely monitored by their peers as well as all the Egyptians. In a country undergoing a real environmental threat especially because of desertification and scarcity of water resources, Serapeum forest is the embodiment of hope for a better future.
Hani El-KatebThe project’s initiator
Egypt and AMU (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya): all the populations are affected by desertification, about 150 million people.
The southern parts of these countries can be seriously affected, especially in recent years due to the persistent drought. The areas along the Sahara are threatened with silting. Mauritania, Egypt and Libya have most of their territory occupied by the Sahara, as well as southern Algeria and Tunisia. The danger is twofold: extension of nearby desert areas, for example by shifting sands and dunes, and the increase of degradation of current pastoral and agricultural areas.
In Morocco, the Saharan acacias cover an area of over 1.000.000 ha (i.e. 17.2%) of natural woody formations. Furthermore, according to the final statement of the reforestation work of the High Commission for Water and Forest and the fight against desertification, an area of more than 27.576 ha on a total of 134.123 ha (i.e. 25%) was reforested with acacias during the 2012-2013 campaign.
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