Africa takes inspiration from Chinain reforestation

China’s experience in reforestation and fighting desertification has injected lots of inspiration into Africa, which needs to curb the alarming expansion of the Sahara desert, Ethiopian experts have said.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently estimated that by 2030, Africa will lose two thirds of its arable land if the march of desertification is not stopped in time.

 “African countries have to do strategic interventions and approach to combat desertification, because desertification has become overwhelming, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa,” Adefris Worku, an Ethiopian forestry expert, has said.

China’s remarkable achievements in successfully restoring its lost lands as part of its massive reforestation endeavours can help African countries realize a forestation ambition, he said.

According to the expert, Africa can learn from China ranging from the promotion of clean energy, climate financing, sharing of technologies, and knowledge and practices on landscape restoration.

“One of the things that we consider as an opportunity is that China has considered the issue of climate change as a very major agenda, that is really a very good and appreciated development,” Worku said, who works as forestry expert at the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission of Ethiopia.

He said that desertification in Africa is mainly caused by fuelwood collection due to lack of access to energy sources, and China can help African countries to develop clean energy mechanisms. “Unless and otherwise Ethiopia and the rest of Africa promote the use of clean energy technologies, there is no way that we could stop forest degradation and deforestation,” he said.

Across Africa, China’s support is already propelling ongoing efforts to promote forestry and mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. In Ethiopia, China-backed satellites are helping realize the country’s aspiration of building an environmentally friendly and climate-resilient economy.

 “We expect that the utilization of satellite imageries will impact the agricultural sector, including monitoring and taking the necessary measures in relation to climate change,” Abdissa Yilma, director general of the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute, told Xinhua recently.

In December 2019, Ethiopia launched its first ever satellite abbreviated as ETRSS-1 with support from the Chinese government. A year later, Ethiopia launched the second Chinese-backed satellite, abbreviated as ET-Smart-RSS from China’s Wenchang spacecraft launch site.

Despite the daunting challenges, African countries have been introducing a number of ambitious initiatives to contain the rapid expansion of desertification. The Great Green Wall Initiative, which was launched by the African Union in 2007, with an overarching aim of planting a wall of trees across Africa at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, is one African-led initiative that aims to restore Africa’s degraded landscapes.

Worku said that Ethiopia, as one of the signatory countries of the initiative, considered the ambitious project as “a very important and relevant strategy to combat desertification and to ensure sustainable development in the country.”

“We need China’s technologies and resources to develop the degraded landscape,” Worku said. 

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