“Interview: Can’t see the desert for the trees
29 March 2008 by Fred Pearce
Magazine issue 2649
Returning to Africa after a 10 year absence, Chris Reij could barely believe his eyes. On the arid margins of the Sahara in Niger, all he could see were trees. It was no mirage: after studying land use in Africa for three decades, he was witnessing the untold story of the re-greening of the Sahel. He tells Fred Pearce about the African farmers who are defying the experts
Describe what you have seen on your recent trips to rural Africa.
You might call me an old Africa hand. I have been working there on and off for 30 years, looking at how people manage their natural resources. I was in Niger regularly between 1984 and 1994. Back then, a lot of the land was treeless. There had been frequent droughts. Farmers had chopped down their trees for firewood and the desert was spreading. When I went back in 2004, I …”
“Rainforests may pump winds worldwide
01 April 2009 by Fred Pearce
Magazine issue 2702
THE acres upon acres of lush tropical forest in the Amazon and tropical Africa are often referred to as the planet’s lungs. But what if they are also its heart? This is exactly what a couple of meteorologists claim in a controversial new theory that questions our fundamental understanding of what drives the weather. They believe vast forests generate winds that help pump water around the planet.
If correct, the theory would explain how the deep interiors of forested continents get as much rain as the coast, and how most of Australia turned from forest to desert. It suggests that much of North America could become desert – even without global warming. The idea makes it even more vital that we recognise the crucial role forests play in the well-being of the planet.
Scientists have known for some time that forests recycle rain……”