Research & Innovation

Egyptian researchers discover a way to grow forests in the desert with sewage

Desertification is a major issue throughout Africa, but there’s a simple way to stop the spread of deserts into fertile land: planting forests. The problem is that in the regions hardest hit by the phenomenon, there simply isn’t enough clean water to properly nurture the trees and keep them healthy. But an innovative project in Egypt proves that it can be done using repurposed wastewater instead of tapping into the sparse fresh water supply. The trees grown in the forest are thriving, and in fact, the eucalyptus trees have been found to produce wood at four times the rate of pine plantations in Germany.

Located about two hours from Cairo, the Serapium forest is part of a program initiated by the Egyptian government in the 90s. The 200-hectare plantation is home to a variety of native and non-native trees, including commercially valuable species like eucalyptus and mahogany. Though the soil in this area would normally be too devoid of nutrients to support new tree growth, researchers have found that by watering the trees with sewage effluent, the plants are able to flourish. The wastewater provides so many nutrients that additional fertilizer isn’t even necessary.

[Full article here | Photo by jbdodane]

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The Euro-Mediterranean AGORA is a way to engage the civil society in the institutional and policy dialogue on research and innovation with the aim of becoming an integral part of the decision making and governance processes.

The Agora is an important component of the broader MEDSPRING project, supported by the European Union with the aim of strengthening the Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and cooperation on research and innovation.