Combating Desertification with Tree Planting in Somalia and kinds of trees are the best to plant in Somalia under the green-Somalia Project

Jan. 18 ( launching the green-Somalia project to plant 10 million trees, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Dr. Prof. Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud, has made a commendable contribution to the environment.

This plan has been launched as Somalia deals with issues brought on by climate change. If this plan is implemented suitably, the environment will improve.

As part of efforts to improve biodiversity, increase climate resilience, and stop deforestation in the face of devastating droughts, Somalia’s National Re-greening Initiative aims to plant 10 million trees nationwide.

Our ambition is to make Somali greener and to create an environment suitable for life”

Khadija Al-makhzoumi the minister of the ministry of environment and climate change Somalia

The disappearance of trees is one of the most significant signs of a changing climate in Somalia. Somalia lost 429,000 hectares of tree cover between 2001 and 2021, which is equal to a 4.9% decline in tree cover over nearly the same time period and 840,000 tons of emissions equivalent to carbon dioxide.

The economy of Somalia depends heavily on its natural resources, which include its land, rivers, forests, subsoil resources, and fisheries. Somalia’s geographical and climatic conditions have an impact on livelihoods and chances for economic development. The largest employer in rural areas of nomadic cultures and the primary export source is the agriculture sector, which includes crop production, fisheries, livestock production and exports, Smallholder crop production methods that are geared toward subsistence continue to be a significant source of income.

Future growth prospects are greatly aided by rural households’ access to food security and the growth of agribusiness value chains, such as the processing of cereal grains.

Many farmers and herders have migrated from the rural areas in seeking a better life in the urban areas because Somalia has become like a desert as a result of the degradation and erosion that has happened in the past two decades. The economic production that these people once engaged in also no longer exists. Due to this, poverty is pervasive in the nation and many people live in below the poverty line.

What kinds of trees are the best to plant in Somalia under the green-Somalia Project?

Climatic zones

Drought hardiness is usually the most important feature of any tree species considered for planting in Somalia. The tree must be able to survive even if the rains fail; to make it worth planting it is important to stress that:

n  Foreign fruit trees all require permanent irrigation

n  There are Somali trees which do produce fruit, even though usually thorny.

n  Protection of existing trees is usually more worthwhile than planting new ones.

The climatic conditions of an area dictate what plant species can survive within it. Somalia is a hot dry country with highlands in the north, a very long coastline and two rivers in the south. Scientists have been measuring rainfall and temperature in Somalia for over fifty years and now have a picture of its climate. They know roughly how much rain is likely to fall and how hot it is likely to be in each part of the country.

Some general points about Somalia’s weather are as follows:

(a) Rainfall is always very unpredictable as to where and when it will fall. Nomadic pastoralism is a way of life adapted to this fact.

(b) The rainfall is more in the south than in the Centre and north, except on the highlands of the north.

(c) The temperature is cooler in the highlands of the north than anywhere else.

(d) Water evaporates from the sea and is deposited on the land close to the sea, in the early morning, causing the sandunes close to the sea to be able to support tree growth.

(e) Where rainfall is more than 400mm per year, (or where irrigation is possible from rivers, or wells), dryland farming can take place.

The climate and availability of water affects the trees which can grow in a place. For example the cool wet climate of Dalo in the northern highlands supports the Dayib (Juniperus excelsa) forests. The hot dry plains of Galgaduud region support the Yicib/Jicib (Cordeauxia edulis) shrub. The semi hot dry plains of Middle shabelle region support the Cadaad (Acacia Senegal) shrub. On the hot wet banks of the Shabelle river at Afgoi the Cambe (Mangifera indica ) is carefully planted and grown by the farmers. You cannot take these trees away and grow them outside their climate zone. For Dayib it must be cool and wet, for Yicib/Jicib and Cadaad it must be hot and dry and for Cambe it must be hot and wet; otherwise they die. Therefore it is important we learn which trees are suited to grow in each zone. Some, like Dayib, are very particular as to where they will grow. Others, like Qurac (Acacia tortilis) can grow in a variety of climate zones.

Environmental Advantages of Green Somali Project, Ecological & Environmental Value

Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife. During the process of photosynthesis, trees take in carbon dioxide and produce the oxygen we breathe. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, “One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. Trees, shrubs and turf also filter air by removing dust and absorbing other pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. After trees intercept unhealthy particles, rain washes them to the ground.

Trees control climate by moderating the effects of the sun, rain and wind. Leaves absorb and filter the sun’s radiant energy, keeping things cool in summer. Trees also preserve warmth by providing a screen from harsh wind. In addition to influencing wind speed and direction, they shield us from the downfall of rain, sleet and hail. Trees also lower the air temperature and reduce the heat intensity of the greenhouse effect by maintaining low levels of carbon dioxide.

Both above and below ground, trees are essential to the eco-systems in which they reside. Far reaching roots hold soil in place and fight erosion. Trees absorb and store rainwater which reduce runoff and sediment deposit after storms. If this project is successful and the population of the country works hard to protect the environment, Somalia won’t be a semiarid country forever.

Mohamed Ali Ahmed,

Master of Environmental Science, Stamford University-Bangladesh,
Independent Researcher, Founder and Chairman at Somali Institute of Disaster and Environmental Research (SOMSIDER)


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