Social reforestation against desertification - WOWnature

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Social reforestation against desertification

Among our first international projects, there's a social reforestation project in Burkina Faso, West Africa. If you have supported the growth of a tree in this area, or are planning to do so, you are reading what's right for you.

Burkina Faso is located in the Sahel belt: between the Sahara Desert to the north and the tropical forests of Sub-Saharan Africa to the south. It has a semi-arid climate, frequent periods of drought, poor soils, and high anthropogenic pressure from overgrazing and agricultural activities. Vegetation, therefore, is scarce. These factors make Burkina Faso a country with a high rate of desertification, driving people to abandon their land and move elsewhere in search of better living conditions.

What’s desertification?

According to the 1994 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), desertification is “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid dry areas attributable to various causes, including climatic variations and human activities”.

In Burkina Faso, the main causes of the high rate of desertification are:
1) the scarcity of water and rainfall combined with long periods of drought, which makes the land completely dry and is eroded by the wind, turning into sand
2) man’s work through over-intensive grazing and agriculture compared to the capacity of the soils.

In relation to the climate crisis, desertification is both cause and consequence. It causes it because in the absence of trees and plants, soils cannot retain CO2. Consequently, it releases it into the atmosphere and generates the rise in temperature. Consequence because if rainfall decreases and temperatures rise, the soil is dry and hinders the growth of vegetation.

How to counter it?

Among the climate crisis mitigation strategies contained in the IPCC’s 2022 report, we find practices that WOWnature has always adopted:

  • conservation, protection and restoration of forests
  • diversification and adaptation of tree species compositions to build resilience and management of increasing risks from pests, diseases, and fire
  • sustainable forest management
  • cooperation with local groups and indigenous people


Creating new green areas, planting new trees, and protecting existing ones is our job. We ensure that trees and shrubs represent a resource, including an economic one, for the livelihood of local communities. Thus, we strengthen the bond between people and nature, which has always brought invaluable benefits. In fact, in this case we are talking about a social reforestation project, designed in harmony with the environment and those who live in it. Caring for and implementing greenery makes it possible to counter desertification, keeping the soil as fertile as possible. In addition, tree roots increase water retention in the soil and protect it from high temperatures.

A resilient and active community

A fertile land also makes the people who live there stronger. Think of the species planted: baobab, shea, neré and moringa. These are all trees that provide nourishment, often planted within agro-forestry systems, that is, in conjunction with a small vegetable garden. These are not only edible species, they constitute a real source of income. For example, shea yields the famous butter, which can be used both in cooking and in cosmetics as a nourishing cream. Moringa is becoming increasingly popular as a superfood in the form of capsules, oils, herbal teas and whatnot. In short, they are beneficial trees in all respects and are growing together with their community. 

Do you want to contribute to this virtuous project?


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