Mohamed Bakarr is considered a key figure in converting the Great Green Wall project — an initially derided plan to plant a wall of trees 10 miles wide and 4,350 miles long in the Sahel, a desert belt stretching from Senegal to Djibouti — into a what the United Nations’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says is the “flagship initiative” to combat land degradation, desertification and drought across the content.
As Lead Environmental Specialist for the Global Environment Facility, the organisation that examines the environmental benefit of World Bank projects, Bakarr has been championing the simple water harvesting techniques used by indigenous farmers to protect the trees that naturally crop up on their farms. Farmers have long realised that trees protect the top layer of soil, improve water retention, and fertilise the soil when their leaves fall off.
Speaking to Smithsonian Magazine, he said the ‘regreening’ wall is now a practical idea. “It is not necessarily a physical wall, but rather a mosaic of land use practices that ultimately will meet the expectations of a wall. It has been transformed into a metaphorical thing”.
Bakarr has nearly two decades experience working on integrated resource management projects, across Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. His work has been carried out in parallel to sustainable land management specialist Chris Reij.
Bakarr also holds a PhD in Tropical Ecology from the University of Miami, worked as Executive Director of the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science, and spent four years as Director of Strategic Initiatives at the World Agroforestry Centre in Nairobi.Tags: Drought, Re-forestation