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Making weather – how the Sinai Peninsula could be re-greened

Like something out of a fairytale, it seems even the most arid of places could become transformed into lush, green forests.

Re-greening is the artificial process of taking seemingly desolate landscapes, introducing tree planting in strategic positions, as well as other soil management techniques, in order to return these places into a greener state. It may sound like a fictional technology beyond our wildest dreams but it could make even the most lifeless places return to their former green glory.

You might not believe it, but the Sinai Peninsula and even the Saharan desert area was once a thriving tropical paradise 11,000 years ago. Human activity sadly took its toll on the region, turning it into one of the most inhospitable places on the planet, but there could be hope for life to spring from the sands once again.

The Weather Makers’ holistic approach

The desertification of vast swathes of the region are likely to have stemmed from human activity. Deforestation and intensive farming caused lasting damage to the landscape. Overgrazing reduced the amount of grassland available, creating a chain of events leading to eventual desertification. Grasslands help regulate humidity, so a loss of grasses over a wide area can reduce the amount of moisture and humidity present in an area.

Over a few short centuries, this humid oasis soon became dry scrubland, prompting people to migrate to greener parts of the region for greener pastures. For generations, it seemed as if no life could ever return to the deserts. However, the re-greening of the Sinai Peninsula may become a reality thanks to a Dutch firm of self-described ‘holistic engineers.’

The Weather Makers couple their knowledge of coastal engineering with a sense of social awareness, and aim to breathe new life back to the Peninsula at long last. To do so requires a complex five-point plan, which must be followed in a very specific order, in order to make the region capable of sustaining plant life for years to come.

A five-point plan

It all starts with restoration of a lagoon, Lake Bardawil. This shallow body of water suffers from sediment build-up and high salinity. The Weather Makers plan to deepen inlets into the lake, allowing more sea water to sweep in from the Mediterranean.

This can be followed by work on restoring wetlands surrounding the lake, to build up a more biodiverse environment in the local area. Dredging the depths of Lake Bardawil are expected to yield a rich source of material which can be used as fertiliser and the building blocks for structural work such as dams and terraces, while more granular material including sand can help build up defences to protect the coastline from erosion.

Re-greening the Sinai Peninsula can be made a reality by employing the use of fog nets in nearby hills – a form of mesh which is so fine that it can capture moister and allow it to descend into a collection trough below. The water can be collected in dykes and dams, while designated areas can be chosen for the growth of vegetation.

This new approach is expected to yield positive results within the lifetimes of many – Green the Sinai estimates that it can re-green the Peninsula in as little as 20-40 years. Just as we fear we may be leaving the planet in a worse state than when we inherited it, there’s a prospect for deserts to be left blooming by the end of the century – life springing from seemingly inert desert sand.

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