You thought there's no way life could survive in the desert? You're about to be blown away because entire forests are springing up.
Deserts are often so dry and barren that little to nothing can grow in them. Well, for a few years now, a team of scientists have been making the impossible possible by not just growing a few flowers in the sandy grounds of the Egyptian desert but more than 20 mini-forest plantations.
Bringing life into inhospitable terrain, the idea dates back to 1998. The Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture collaborated to implement the 'National Programme for the Safe Use of Treated Sewage Water for Afforestation' according to the official management plan of the Serapium Forest Plantation, which is near Ismaileya (about two hours away from Cairo).
Although it was shrugged off as a simple and short-term dream, the project turned out to be nothing short of incredible and is proving to be extremely fruitful.
So what is this project about and what is it generating? First of all, it’s actually recycling as well as treating Egypt’s sewage water - with the help of the Technical University of Munich - and using the treated water to grow trees which helps preserve the dwindling resources of drinking water in the country. It wouldn’t work for crops because the water is nutrient-rich but it would work with trees and the growth is made even faster considering Egypt’s invaluable strong sun and short winters.
Also, the forest is helping to protect against sandrifts, fights desertification, and it has a huge potential for jobs. Currently the entire Serapium forest is managed by Ahmed Ragaie but it has only 39 workers working the site. The main part of the forest area is actually dedicated to the production of wood – such as African mahogany - but more plants are being grown like jojoba (hello jojoba oil!) and eucalyptus, so in a few years, the harvesting of the wood and plants can help create jobs and local businesses.
The experiment has taken off in 24 places in Egypt, according to Deutsche Welle news, where entire forests have arisen from the desert grounds and up to 500 000 hectares of land could be covered by lush forests. Do you guys know how huge that is? That's about 500,000 sport fields!
And it doesn't stop there, this has definitely attracted the attention of foreign investors because German companies, like wood processing equipment maker Siempelkamp Group and ForestFinest which has already been involved in research work in the Serapium project.
Images courtesy of Deutsche Welle.