Case Study: Desert Ecosystem Restoration

This case study is a project I am currently working on in Somalia.

This site is located just south west of Garowe, in Puntland, north-eastern Somalia. The region has a hot desert climate, with hot to very hot temperatures (average highs of 29-41 degrees) year round and an annual average precipitation of just 133mm. In Somalia, there are four distinct seasons that comprise the spring rains of April to June, dry summer from July to September, the autumn rains of October and November and dry winter from December to March.

Estimated depth to aquifer in this area is 100-250m (though unknown for this particular site). Aquifer productivity moderate, though quality can be poor. (It will be essential to obtain expert guidance for well/ borehole to provide water source on site. The soil type is calcicol, sandy, alkaline and free draining. It is low in fertility, and easily degraded. Protecting and improving the soil on site is a top priority. And careful management of water will be essential. 

The site covers an area of very approximately 25,000sq m, or 6.2 acres, at an elevation of between around 484 and 496m. It is currently denuded of trees, with only some slight and sparse vegetation. 

The barren landscape of many regions of Somalia is not a natural condition, but rather the result of centuries of damaging agricultural practices, deforestation, and poor pastures management. However, degradation is not inevitable and ecosystem restoration can be successfully applied in all areas in which human intervention has turned fertile soil into unproductive deserts. 

This design aims to show how such landscapes can be restored, and turned to full productivity for the benefit of the local and global environment, and the local communities. 

Goals & Intended Outcomes

  • To restore the degraded ecosystem of the site. Restoring vegetative cover, improving the soil, its fertility and water-storage capacity.
  • To meet the basic needs of the inhabitants (water, food, shelter, fuel etc.) and enable the establishment of an agro-pastoral lifestyle.
  • To provide yields for commercial sale, to give an economic income from the land. 
  • To serve as an example of ecosystem restoration – to encourage further ecosystem restoration and show what is possible in the region. 

If you would like to know more about ecosystem restoration, greening deserts or dryland systems, please do feel free to get in touch.

You can also learn about another Somalian project I am remotely involved with here.

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