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Verdir le désert

Verdir le désert

Trapping Water: The Key to Greening the Desert

Geoff Lawton

The first episode of the Green the Desert podcast features Geoff Lawton, a permaculture expert who has been working on regenerative projects in desert areas for over 20 years. The conversation focuses on techniques to green the desert and restore degraded landscapes. Key topics include water harvesting, planting hardy species, and the importance of reducing evaporation.

Lawton emphasizes the need to trap every drop of water and create water systems that store and distribute it effectively. He also discusses the use of spiky trees as initial pioneers and the transition to less hardy, more productive species over time. The episode concludes with a discussion on the timeline for planting productive trees and the potential for reducing or eliminating irrigation in the long term. In this conversation, Louis De Jaeger and Geoff discuss the importance of water harvesting and regenerative agriculture in desert restoration.

They explore the concept of using water harvesting techniques on a larger area to compensate for irrigation needs, with the magic number being 20 times the area of intense production. They also discuss the role of animals, particularly goats and camels, in the regeneration process and how they can help with reforesting.

Geoff emphasizes the importance of collaboration with local communities and the need to start small and prove the concept before scaling up. He also highlights the significance of understanding the natural processes and the potential for greening the desert to have a positive impact on the entire planet.

Key takeaways



    Trap every drop of water and create water systems that store and distribute it effectively.


    Start by planting hardy species, such as Prosopis and Leucaena, which can withstand harsh desert conditions.


    Reduce evaporation by increasing shade, reducing hot winds, and increasing organic matter.


    Transition from spiky pioneer trees to less hardy, more productive species over time.


    Irrigation may be necessary initially, but with proper water harvesting and shade, it can be reduced or eliminated in the long term. Water harvesting on a larger area can compensate for irrigation needs in desert restoration, with the magic number being 20 times the area of intense production.


    Animals, such as goats and camels, can play a role in the regeneration process by grazing on forage trees and spreading seeds through their manure.


    Collaboration with local communities is crucial in desert restoration projects, and it is important to educate and involve them in the process.


    Starting small and proving the concept before scaling up is a more effective approach in desert restoration.


    Understanding natural processes, such as condensation and the role of vegetation, is key to successful desert greening.


    Greening the desert has the potential to have a positive impact on the entire planet by increasing water availability and reducing floods and droughts.

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