The environmental center Dandanoo in West Africa will tell the story of our planets changing climate, as well as take action by planting trees and mangrove. Reforestation of tropical forests is an important part of combating the global warming. Trees in these parts of the world are five times more efficient in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and these environments must be protected and restored if we shall ever have a chance to stabilize the climate.
The global warming is a fight that we as an international community share, and we have never before seen one on a magnitude as serious as this one. Humanity releases six times as much carbon into the air than nature can handle, and the changing chemical composition of the atmosphere is heating the whole planet up. A temperature rise of 2° Celcius is the threshold for very dangerous climate change, where the natural environment will irreversibly break down. Business as usual will make the situation impossible to stop, and large parts of the world would become inhabitable. Failing to act is not an option. Apart from radically reducing emissions of fossil fuel, it is essential that we strengthen natures capacity to absorb the harmful greenhouse gases.
The Dandanoo Association will be operating two reforestation programmes, and spread the message of our changing climate. We hope to promote global thinking and inspire people in all communities to take action to protect the environment.
Tropical forests disappear every year in a size equal to that of Greece, and every year they release more than 2 billion tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
A newly planted tree-seedling that grows in these parts of the world removes 50 kg carbon dioxide from the air every year it grows. The Dandanoo reforestation programme will have tree-seedling nurseries at three separate locations, and altogether plant 10 000 trees.
We have developed a very effective stratety for the collection of seeds, which involves the local community and especially the younger generations. For every seed that they collect from the forests and bring to the nursery they get small money, which is a good way of encouraging environmental restoration. Some trees are hard to find these days, and therefore we will try to plant and preserve more of them. They also give fruit that the monkeys need. People who bring in these more difficult to find seeds will be better compensated.
Then we plant the different types of seeds, and when they have grown a decimeter high we re-plant them into black plastic bags. Sometime after the raining-season when the small trees have grown stronger, they are re-planted a final time and set to grow free. The local community will take part in the whole nursery operation.
The tropical mangrove that grows along oceanic riversides is remarkably effective in absorbing and storing the carbon, as much as five times more so than the other trees in these parts of the world.
So far have over half of Africas mangrove forests been lost, and they are expected to be especially affected by future climate changes. It is very important to work on restoring them, and The Dandanoo Association wishes to set up a re-planting programme along the south Gambia river.
A working-group will go around the water system and collect small seedling-branches from the top of the tree, and put them to grow along the muddy sides of the river. We estimate to be able to plant as many as 50 000 mangroves during this two months programme. The group will be working together with the local organisation KHECO that has been active in the region for a long time.
The West African coast is expected to be especially affected by the global sea-level rise of up to 0.82 cm this century, and the massive roots of the mangrove stabilize the ground and protect it from flooding.
The two reforestation programmes for trees and mangrove are part of The Dandanoo's effort to combat the global warming. By taking action in restoring the forests we stand as an example, which is how one encourages change and spreads awareness.
When The Dandanoo's tree-seedling nurseries are fully operational and the local communities are involved in the seed collection, we will point out the reason for planting these trees. A small info-center will explain the causes and effects of the global warming, such as the greenhouse effect and other geological processes. Information-boards will show everything that is happening all over the world, from the melting of glaciers to falling groundwater levels.
In particular we will focus on the local problem of deforestation and an advancing desert.
Gambia lies in Sub-Saharan Africa and the desert is slowly but surely moving in. The neighboring country Senegal is every year loosing 50 000 hectares of farmland to the Sahara. Desertification is since a long time spreading in the African Sahel region, and future climate changes of more intense droughts and less rainfall will speed the process up further.
Most people in Africa do not know about the global temperatures rise and its effect on the environment. They must get access to more information in order to prepare for the continued changes, and be part of the global solution. People need a deeper understanding of how forests control the rain- and weather patterns of the climate, that they absorb the harmful carbon and how this is released when trees are cut or burnt.
Deforestation is a major problem worldwide and stands for more than 15 % of the release of the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Population growth and poverty take heavily on the environment and both legal and illegal logging is changing the landscape. 1 ton heavy palm-trees are lying around in pieces, and fire-wood for cooking is constantly brought from the forests into the villages. This endless removal of trees is undermining the land and giving way to soil erosion and desertification.
Growing populations in African countries and the need for firewood will put enormous pressure on remaining forests, and it is nessessary to somewhat restore the balance by planting new trees. By making especially the younger generations more aware about environmental issues and the effects of deforestation, they may in the future take from the forest with more caution.
Most of the information that the Dandanoo center will present comes from Lester Brown's brilliant book on climate change; ''Plan B 4.0 - Mobilizing to save civilization.'' He very clearly explains how ''the health of the people cannot be separated from the health of the land'', and points out that ’’if we cannot stabilize the climate, there is not an ecosystem on earth that we can save’’.
At the international conference on climate change in Paris, all nations spoke of the urgency and severity of the global situation, and agreed to make every effort to stabilize the temperature rise below the critical 2° Celcius. Very dangerous and irreversible changes will come if we fail in this and pass that threshold. There will be no return if certain tipping points of natural balance are crossed.
As many as 30 % of all animal species are at risk of extinction by just 1 degree rise in temperature, which is the minimum of a possible 6 degree increase this century. Lester Brown and many others go so far as to say that ''we are now in the early stages of the sixth great extinction'', and that ''the scale and urgency of the challenge we face has no precedent'', ''how we act today will affect life on earth for all generations to come''.
Nature stands for more than 30 % of the solution. Carbon dioxide must be absorbed, and tropical trees are much more efficient in this than those in other places of the world.
The effects of the climate changes are heavily concentrated in poor and still developing countries, which strongly undermines efforts to combat poverty and stabilize these parts of the world. As much as 95 % of all casualties from extreme weather events and climate disasters are happening there, and as the former general secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon said, ''the early harvests of global warming is having a disproportional effect on the worlds poor''.
The changes in the climate system have mainly been caused by the industrial countries, and they therefore have a responsibility to support the more exposed developing countries in building up adaptation strategies. These parts of the world already have a difficult time in making a sustainable living with high temperatures and degraded environments, and continued climate changes will compromise their vulnerable position even more.
Drought and desert expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa is displacing millions of people. Already there are many who seek a better life by migrating north towards Europe. These can be called environmental refugees, and are by the UN estimated to be as many as 60 million by 2020.
__who we are__
The Dandanoo Association has been built up by a European long-distance traveller who is taking action about the climate changes. The university knowledge has found a place to make a difference, and it is the urge to protect Mother Nature that has kept her going. Anna has now been in muslim Africa for twenty-six warm months.
The Dandanoo has evolved from a one-time project into an association registered in the Gambian justice department. This means that we can find ways to continue the environmental protection programmes.
The beautiful Kartong-Gunjur region in the south of Gambia is well known for its eco-tourism and somewhat developed environmental awareness. The group of people that are involved in this project wish to protect and restore the forests that their community and future generations depend on. In the local language mandinka, the dandanoo means "the natural surroundings". We have prepared the operational plans in great detail, and the tree-seedling nurseries are ready to start planting.
When we work to protect the environment we should also consider the animals. Their welfare is in general very low in African countries.
The Dandanoo Association has build up a small animal welfare programme with basic treatment for dogs. They have a very difficult time with infected parasite-bites and wounds, especially during the heavy raining-season, and many have lost half their ears in this way.
We are putting aside a small portion of the funding for this programme, and we have prepared for saturday treatment days in the project-community of Kartong, where free medicine will be administered by the veterinaries.