GHAF TREE AT THE HEART OF COMBATING DESERTIFICATION
June 17th 2022, DUBAI UAE: “Rising up from drought together”, is this year’s theme of the International Day Against desertification, and drought with the emphasis on the need of early action to avoid disastrous consequences for humanity and the planets ecosystems.
The issue of desertification is not new, when the land degrades and stops being productive, natural spaces deteriorate and transform. Thus, greenhouse gas emissions increase and biodiversity decreases. It also means there are fewer wild spaces to buffer zoonoses, such as COVID-19, and protect us from extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and sand and dust storms.
According to the UN, no country is immune to drought (UN-Water 2021) and the number and duration of droughts has increased by 29 percent since 2000, as compared to the previous decades (WMO 2021). It is troubling to know that more and more of us will be living in areas with extreme water shortages.
Over the years, government, non-government, and private organisations have been taking measures to secure the future of trees and soil through reforestation, tree regeneration and water management — saving, reuse of treated water, desalination, or direct use of seawater for salt-loving plants.
Goumbook, a UAE-based social enterprise, launched the “Give a Ghaf” tree planting program as a not-for-profit initiative in 2010 to raise awareness about the problem. As a result, since inception:
- 122,000 seeds and trees have been planted
- 25,000 volunteers have been engaged in planting activities
- More than 250 Companies and 35 education institutions have supported the initiative on multiple occasions throughout the years.
- More than 550 planting activities.
“Through the Give A Ghaf campaign citizens are urged to plant native tree species to combat desertification and to preserve their country’s heritage through problem-solving, strong community involvement and co-operation at all levels” Says Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder & Managing Director at Goumbook.
Considered the UAE’s National Tree, Ghaf trees hold great promise for combating desertification thanks to its unique qualities. Ghaf trees have deep and broad root system meaning it can grow in extremely harsh conditions and help combat desertification. Its can also fix nitrogen and improve soil fertility naturally. The tree helps in the reclamation of areas lost to desertification.
The World Day to Combat Desertification is celebrated in every country on 17 June, following a 1995 decision by the UN General Assembly to raise global awareness about desertification, land degradation and drought. On this unique day, Goumbook is calling on all members of the community to treat the land as a limited and precious natural resource and plant more trees. Everyone has a role to play because everyone has a stake in the future.
Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting sustainable living and green practices in the UAE and beyond since 2009. As a social enterprise, Goumbook aims for high impact change in its community.
Give a Ghaf is a tree & seed planting initiative launched in 2010 that raises awareness about the local environment, water scarcity, indigenous plants, and trees. We concentrate on the Ghaf tree, because it is the best example of the harsh desert climate interwoven with the history and culture of this new country, being the national tree of the UAE.