Sunday, March 8, 2009

A difference in the landscape

Tree growing in a demi-lune
Photo credit: ICISAT (New Agriculturist)

It has been cool, and encouraging, to see the difference that the demi-lunes have made in our landscape. During a walk through them last week, Ibrahim pointed out how most of the trees planted are still alive, and how each crescent grew a healthy bunch of green grass this year, which has long since dried up and is now golden tangles of hay. Ultimately, the entire area will be used for grazing and the harvesting of fodder for the region's animals.

I'd originally thought that the ultimate goal would be to use the space for farmland, but that is not the case: in our region at least, the crescents are used specifically to bring back the long-lost savannah landscape that makes the free-roaming herding lifestyle of the region possible. The addition of Gum Arabic trees to the landscape seems to me a bit of a wild card; the intention there is part reforestation, part income generation (the gum produced by the trees can be sold). Goats, sheep, and cattle aren't allowed to enter the area yet- and won't be for another couple of years, until the trees are big enough to survive being grazed on themselves. But eventually, what was once just an enormous flat disc of hardpan will produce a ton of gorgeous green fodder.

Wow who knew there was so much to say about demilunes....

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