Forestry in the desert – not an impossible venture, as the Serapium Forest Project demonstrates.
Photos: Jörg Böthling

11.12.2019

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Action on climate change and dryland conservation, wastewater recovery and sustainable forestry, income generation and job creation. A joint research project by the universities of Cairo and Munich shows how multiple issues can be addressed simultaneously – if policy-makers focus on long-term benefits rather than quick profits.

Trees are a rarity in Egypt. Ninety-six per cent of the country is desert; most of the remainder is intensively farmed or built-up alluvial land on the banks of the Nile. So it is surprising to spot a row of trees on the horizon, their darkness contrasting with the vast, glaring expanse of yellow sand. A mirage? Far from it. A narrow road, bordered by eucalyptus trees up to 15 metres tall, brings the car to the entrance to the Serapium Forest. On this 200-hectare site on the west bank of the Suez Canal, timber is growing in the scorching heat of the desert.

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