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Africa's Great Green Wall

Senegalese women planting treesSenegalese women planting treesThe Great Green Wall is a project to halt desertification in the Sahel region of Africa. Launched in 2007 by the African Union, the Wall will eventually consist of a continuous ribbon, 15 kilometres (9 miles), wide of newly-planted trees stretching 7750 kilometres (4800 miles) from coast to coast, across 11 African countries from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. The aim is to prevent the gradual spread of the Sahara Desert southwards (about 250 kilometres, or 155 miles, of land to the south has been lost to desert since 1900) and restore prosperity to the Sahel.

The planned line of the Great Green Wall The planned line of the Great Green Wall
Tree planting project near Hawassa, EthiopiaTree planting project near Hawassa, Ethiopia

Project aims

Through planting trees and crops, the $8-billion Great Green Wall project intends to restore 100 million hectares (250 million acres) of "degraded" land by 2030. It is hoped up to 10 million new jobs will be created and the trend of people migrating away from the Sahel region reversed. The Great Green Wall will also play an important role in combating global warming: serving as a carbon sink, some 250 million tons of carbon will be removed from the atmosphere.

Satellite image of the Sahara's southern edgeSatellite image of the Sahara's southern edge


Once complete, the Great Green Wall will, some say, become the largest living structure on the planet—several times the size of the Great Barrier Reef, which is more than 2000 km (1200 miles) long.

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