100 Degrees and 3 Inches of Rain. Greening Saudi Arabia with Neal Spackman. (PVP078)

“What is the land on the site willing to give us if cooperate with it?” Neal Spackman



Neal Spackman Permaculture Voices


This is an interview with Neal Spackman. And while you probably haven’t heard of Neal the work that Neal is doing to regreen an area of the Saudi Arabian desert – it is monumental. The work that he is doing is every bit as great as the work that Geoff Lawton has done. And I mean that.


We are talking about regreening a portion of the desert that gets 3 inches of rain a year on average, but lately they aren’t even meeting the average. Greening the site by using true cost water accounting, meaning that they only use the equivalent of water that falls onto the site to establish the vegetation. With minimal rainfall, no pre-existing plant life and 100 plus degree summer temperatures, it is no easy task. Throw in the economic and social challenges of the village that he is working with and the task becomes even harder. But despite those challenges, progress is being made, and the sounds of crickets are now being heard. Life is coming back.


The upside potential here is huge. And as Neal says, “”There was some real risk, but in the end I didn’t think I was going to end off any worse than I was…. And the potential opportunity was exponentially greater than what I was doing at the time.”




“The most satisfaction I have ever felt in my life is when I succeeded in getting a hard thing done.” Neal Spackman

 

Quotables:

  • “What is the land on the site willing to give us if we cooperate with it?”
  • “The most satisfaction I have ever felt in my life is when I succeeded in getting a hard thing done.”
  • “This is worth a shot, this is worth my time.  To see if we can do it.  To see if it can actually be done.”
  • “There was some real risk, but in the end I didn’t think I was going to end off any worse than I was…. And the potential opportunity was exponentially greater than what I was doing at the time.”
  • “You’ve got to be in the blue and the black and the brown or else it falls apart.” 
  • “Listening is the most important thing.  We tend to go in and we want to teach or we want to make these changes, but you can’t move someone from point A to point B unless you know where point A is.”
  • “People are starting to believe in it and they are starting to believe that they themselves can do it.”

 

Key Takeaways:

  • Building trust within a community.  Living amongst them as they live.
  • Making a difference within a community – go to the elders and ask them to tell stories, and really listen.
  • In drylands it is hugely important to plant at the right time of year, in the right window.

 

 

Introduction to the Al Baydha Project



Reversing the Cycle of Desertification



Young Desert Swale Walkthrough





How forests attract rain: an examination of a new hypothesis.

by Douglas Sheil and Daniel Murdiyarso in BioScience (2009).

“A new hypothesis suggests that forest cover plays a much greater role in determining rainfall than previously recognized. It explains how forested regions generate large-scale flows in atmospheric water vapor. Under this hypothesis, high rainfall occurs in continental interiors such as the Amazon and Congo river basins only because of near-continuous forest cover from interior to coast. The underlying mechanism emphasizes the role of evaporation and condensation in generating atmospheric pressure differences, and accounts for several phenomena neglected by existing models. It suggests that even localized forest loss can sometimes flip a wet continent to arid conditions. If it survives scrutiny, this hypothesis will transform how we view forest loss, climate change, hydrology, and environmental services. It offers new lines of investigation in macroecology and landscape ecology, hydrology, forest restoration, and paleoclimates. It also provides a compelling new motivation for forest conservation.”

The Link: 

http://lomaprieta.sierraclub.org/forest_protection/FeatureArticles/HowForestsAttractRain.pdf

 

Neal’s Plant Guilds at the Albayda Project.

GRASSES:

  • Chloris gayana Kunth
  • Distichlis spicata
  • Pennisetum divisum
  • lasiurus sindicus
  • stipagrostis drarii
  • Smilo Grass oryzopsis miliacea
  • Harding grass phalaris tuberosa
  • Canary Grass phalaris arundinacea
  • Hairy Beard Grass andropogon hirtus
  • Erhart’s Grass Erharta calycina
  • Tall Fescue festuca arundinacea
  • Broad Fescue Festuca elatior
  • Tall Wheat Grass Agropyrum elongatum

Fruit Trees 

  • Mongongo:  Schinziophyton rautanenii
  • Date Palm Phoenix dactylifera
  • Olive Olea europaea
  • Pomegranate Punica granatum–Roman
  • Fig Ficus carica
  • Guava Psidium
  • Mulberry Morus
  • Citrus glauca
  • Citrus medica
  • Jujube Ziziphus ziziphus & spinacristi
  • Carob Ceratonia siliqua
  • Tamarind Tamarindus indica
  • Drumstick Tree Moringa oleifera & Moringa Peregrina
  • Mango Mangifera indica
  • Loquat Eriobotrya japonica
  • Pitaya  Hylocereus undatus
  • Columar Cacti Cereus peruvianus

Vines/Climbers

  • bitter melon:  momordica charantia
  • Passion fruit:  passiflora edulis
  • Grape: Vitis vinifera
  • luffa gourd:  luffa aegyptica

Legume Trees 

(excellent for coppicing, pollarding, firewood, timber, forage, mulch, and nitrogen fixing.  I have marked those that are known to perform hydraulic redistribution as HR)

  • prosopis juliflora (HR)
  • Prosopis Cineraria (HR)
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • Sesbania Sesban
  • Parkensonia aculeata
  • Albizia Lebek
  • Casuarina spp (Note as of 2014–all but 3 of the initial 30 casuarinas we planted have died)
  • Acacia seyal
  • Acacia Senegal
  • Acacia Tortilis (HR)

Clumping Plants

  • Ginger Zingiber officinale
  • Turmeric Curcuma longa
  • Cardamom Elettaria Cardamomum Maton
  • hibiscus spp

Ground Covers

  • Portulaca
  • Coastal Pigface Carpobrotus virescens
  • Baby sun rose Aptenia cordifolia
  • Bay Biscayne creeping-oxeye Sphagneticola trilobata
  • Lippia  Phyla canescen

Herbs

  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Sage Salvia
  • Thyme Thymus vulgaris
  • Sweet Marjoram Origanum majorana
  • Oregano Origanum vulgare
  • Felty Germander Teucrium polium
  • Jamaica:  hibiscus sabdarrifa
  • Tagart Bush:  Maerua crassifolia 

Medicinals:

  • Horseradish tree Moringa peregrina
  • Sanamaki (senna):  cassia senna L.  (perennial herbaceous in sandy soil)
  • Henna lawsonia intermis  (perennial fragrant shrub)
  • Miswak salvadora persica (tree)
  • Neem Azadirachta indica (tree)

Cash Crops: 

  •  Mongongo–staple nut tree/oil tree
  • Frankincense:  boswellia sacra, boswellia seratta
  • Myrrh:  commiphora myhrra, balsamodendron myrrha
  • Gum Arabic (?):  acacia seyal, acacia senegal
  • Moringa:  oil, compost tea, seeds

 

 

More information on Neal Spackman:

Two Visions Permaculture

The Al Baydha Project

The Al Baydha Project on YouTube

You can contact Neal via: neal@twovisionspermaculture.com.

 

 

 

Support Permaculture Voices

You can new support Permaculture Voices through a one time or reoccurring donation. You can make that donation at permaculturevoices.com/support

 

 

Question, Comments, or Feedback?

Let’s here it – info at permaculturevoices dot com, Facebook, or though the contact form HERE.

 

 

 

podcast_icon1

You can also listen to this episode (and all of the other episodes) through iTunes and other podcast feed readers. Instructions on how to do that here:

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE, IT’S EASY AND FREE




Permaculture Voices Thanks You

Thanks for listening and for supporting Permaculture Voices!


Did you get some value out of this post? If so, then please take a second to support Diego on Patreon!

Comments 3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *