We contribute in building the forest of the future; the Great Green Wall. We do that by growing trees and collecting huge amounts of seeds. We make fields full of trenches in degraded areas to ‘harvest’ all the rain that comes from the sky in the raining season. The technique used for this is called ‘Contour trenching’.
– Watch the results of contour trenching in Burkina Faso
The solution to the desertification problem is not very difficult. The hard top-layer of the soil needs to be broken open so rainwater can penetrate again. That is basically the key factor of this project. Trenches will be dug by machines with special ploughs, these trenches will be filled up with seeds and young trees. After that, the rain needs to fall and when the trenches have caught all the rain the proces to convert the land into forest wil start. Harvesting rain in the most efficient way is the keyfactor to restore groundwater levels and give forests a chance to grow. In the movie below you will see how contour trenching works.
This plough (Nardi Delfino 3) is specially designed to regenerate degraded lands.
How contour trenching works
Trenches will be dug 4 meters from each other. The side walls are able to absorb all the water this way. If the distance between the trenches is larger, parts of land could still remain dry (which will not support the development of the vegetation). The trenches will be up to one meter deep. This makes sure all the water will be caught, even when the rainfall is very heavy. After the trenches have been dug, seeds and young trees will be planted into them. The seeds will be covered by a layer of earth mixed with cow manure to protect them against the sun and to fertilize them.
All credits for discovering this method go out to the Dutch artist Peter Westerveld. He was born and raised in Africa and in 2010 he started to work out his contour trenching projects in Kenya and Mali. His results were amazing. It was not only the green fields that he could bring back, but in Mali (Bamako) the amount of harvests per year increased from one to four harvests per year. A huge achievement! But unfortunately Mr. Westerveld died in 2014. His ideas however may never be forgotten because they can change our world. Thats why the GWW Project wants to apply his techniques to realize this project in the Gambia.