Desert restoration, effect on atmospheric CO2 levels

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Fri Apr 26 11:44:20 EDT 1996

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 26 Apr 1996 11:08:10 +0100
From: rob & gill <robgil at>
To: Community_Forestry_Discussion <Tree-House at>
Subject: Re: TH: mix them together, and scatter

Don't you just love it when, as if by magic, information concerning
something you have resently been talking about, appears, unprompted, at you
doorstep !

Over the past couple of days, two interesting texts have come to me
concerning desert restoration, and the legendary Richard St. Barbe Baker.

The first was a letter by one Malcolme Lake published in the British
Permaculture Mag, written in responce to a previous article by Greg Samway
who wrote,

" ... to make any impression on atmospheric CO2 levels [in order to reduce
global warming] it would require planting a forest the size of India, but
because nobody has the space to plant such a big forest, it is not
considered to be a viable opinion. "

To which M.Lake responds with, "I feel bound to inform ... that such a space
really does exist and afforesting land must be considered a viable option!
It was the vision of Richard St Barbe Baker, forester, environmentalist,
author, member of the Baha'i Faith and founder of the Men of the Trees - now
the international Tree foundation - that the Sahara desert should be

Lake continues by describing Baker's vision as an "embryonic Gain
hypothesis" since he regarded our planet as a "...sentient being, one third
of whose 'skin' should be growing trees."

The second piece of information was in the excellent book Forest Gardening
by Robert A de J Hart. In a fitting tribute to the man, Hart describes
Barbe's magnificant vision of restoring the million square miles of desert,
with tree roots tapping into an underground ocean the size of France which
supposedly exists beneith the sand, in order to " ... create a mosaic of
protective zones, comprising forests of draught resistant trees and crops,
which would eventally merge."

In the forward to Baker's book, Sahara Conquest, John Hutchings and Knut
Scharnhorst write, "Co-operation on a large scale , such as Mr. Baker
invites in the case of the Sahara, would go far to change the pollitical
climate of the nations. Just as Mr. Baker's reclamation plan envisages the
creation of micro climates in the Sahara, that will eventually coalesce into
a beneficial climate over the whole area, so will the total African venture
in itself act like a microclimate, which will eventually expand to the whole
of our fractous and contending planet."

Nice eh ?

Maybe Masanobu Fukuoka's idea about mixing all the seeds of the world
together and dropping them on the desert is a bit random, but there are many
good reasons why the deserts should be reafforested.

Looking for the perfect millenium project which would unite the peoples of
the planet, and reinstate an earth caring culture, I would say that the
reafforestation of the Sahara would be a project hard to top !

                         Rob Squires of CTCSystems 
                    Gill Ellison - Age Concern St.Helens
                    ++++ A POSITIVE ATTITUDE TO LIFE +++
                       E:Mail:robgil at 
                          Phone/Fax (01744) 612778 

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