Desertification destroys vegetative cover, and if allowed to continue unchecked, will eventually turn the area arid and ultimately produce a desert landscape. It is our mission to tame the desert. Therefore, we must plant trees. We must nurture the trees until they can become self sustaining. Successive governments in shelterbelt regions of Nigeria have embarked on tree planting programmes in the past. Majority of these failed due to lack of sustained action. FADE has changed that. FADE ensures community participation in the reforestation projects by encouraging the community members and leaders to take ownership of the project.
FADE's goal is to establish wall of trees along the fringes of the desert in successive rows, working its way gradually towards the heart of the desert. This way, lost grounds, villages and communities will be recovered. To address these issues and bring the benefits of reclaimed societies to people, FADE designed a tree planting program that includes planting carefully selected tree species in rows.
Wind breaking trees
Wall of trees, which is FADE's term for Wind Break or Shelterbelt trees, is a line of trees planted in order to break or reduce wind speed. The benefits derived from this structure include:
» Holding back the advancing dunes especially if combined with other vegetative cover under the tree canopies;
» Reduction in wind speed which reduces the amount of soil erosion;
» The leaves of trees falling to the ground improve soil fertility;
» The tree roots, being long, draw water from deep down the soil for their use and in the process, any crops grown within the vicinity of trees benefit from this water; and
» The branches can be cut for fuel without having to cut the whole tree.
On each reforestation site, we planted a woodlot which is a collection of trees planted for use as firewood. When these trees reach maturity, they are pruned (not completely cut) and the wood sold to the public to generate revenue for the schools.
A variety of fruit bearing trees which include orange, mango, papaya, custard apple, cashew, and guava have been planted. The economic trees provide means of livelihood to the community, while providing nutrition and agricultural trade. The agricultural trees act as incentives to participate and sustain the program of tree planting as a means of reclaiming lost lands and taming the desert.