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.”
[blockquote cite=”Neal Spackman” type=”center”]”The most satisfaction I have ever felt in my life is when I succeeded in getting a hard thing done.” [/blockquote]
- “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.”
- 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.”
Neal’s Plant Guilds at the Albayda Project.
More information on Neal Spackman:
You can contact Neal via: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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