Find out how to profit from Typha weed, an invasive plant in Senegal

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On the sandy plains of northern Senegal by means of which the river Senegal and its tributaries move marking the border with Mauritania, small homes and sheds stand up like mushrooms mixing into the panorama. They could simply go unnoticed, had been it not for his or her uncommon building materials: Typha, a wild aquatic herbaceous plant. Between 1 to three m tall, with a slim spike on the prime of the vertical stem and wonderful thermal insulation properties, it’s largely used as a roof protecting and blended with soil to make light-weight blocks.

The development sector is especially dynamic in West Africa, together with Senegal. Nonetheless, buildings are sometimes constructed with concrete, and are poorly tailored to the new local weather, thermally uncomfortable and power consuming. Elements of the cement business face persevering with challenges to enhance the environmental sustainability of their manufacturing.

In accordance with UN-Habitat, 50% of the constructing inventory that can exist in 2050 are but to be constructed. So, it’s time to transfer in direction of the development of environmentally pleasant buildings.

Egyptian Plover, copyright Nik Borrow, from the surfbirds galleries

On this context, Typha comes up as an environment friendly various for building in Senegal. Though it really works properly for the buildings, it’s disastrous for the Senegal River, the place it’s quickly proliferating as an invasive plant, particularly after the huge building of dams within the late Nineteen Eighties. When ripe, their heads disintegrate right into a cottony fluff from which the seeds disperse by wind, thus making it among the many first wetland vegetation to colonise moist mud. In the present day, Typha is a matter of concern for public well being, water provide safety and the preservation of biodiversity within the space. Bearing the brunt of this proliferation are rural riparian communities whose livelihoods have been affected because of this invasive plant damaging their fishing and farming areas.

As a result of it spreads shortly and aggressively, this invasive plant is extraordinarily troublesome to eradicate, however with the precise technique its development could be managed whereas enhancing its optimistic qualities for the good thing about the inhabitants. It’s exactly with this technique that in early 2022, a brand new mission funded by the Alstom Basis and managed by BirdLife Worldwide and Nature Communautés Développement (NCD, BirdLife accomplice) was launched in Senegal.

The mission targets an internationally essential wetland: the Tocc Tocc Neighborhood Nature Reserve, one of many eight Ramsar websites in Senegal and a vital stopover for tens of millions of migratory birds on the East Atlantic Flyway, which runs from the northern Arctic by means of West Africa to South Africa. The reserve gives important ecosystem providers to 1000’s of native folks, together with livelihoods (fishing, irrigation, animal husbandry, ecotourism), in addition to defending Lake de Guiers, the primary supply of ingesting water for tens of millions of residents in Dakar. Nonetheless, the supply of those a number of advantages is threatened by the unsustainable use of its pure sources and the proliferation of Typha.

Wetlands maintain life

Wetlands present ecosystem providers value $47 trillion (USD) per 12 months, together with for rice cultivation, a supply of livelihood for 3.5 billion folks, and these habitats are dwelling to 40% of the world’s plant and animal species. As well as, wetlands are highly effective options to the local weather disaster: they retailer twice as a lot carbon as all of the world’s forests, shield coastal communities from pure disasters and regulate water flows to stop floods and droughts. Nonetheless, they’re disappearing quicker than another ecosystem.

In the course of the celebration of the World Wetlands Day on 2nd of February 2022, BirdLife Worldwide, NCD and authorities from the Senegalese Nationwide Parks, together with the Head of the Wetland Division and Focal Level for the Ramsar Conference, mentioned the mission with the Tocc Tocc group. The native communities had been invited to take part within the mission’s restoration actions and going forwards, the mission will straight help and upskill not less than 150 group members for biodiversity-friendly earnings producing actions.

“The target of this mission is to strengthen group resilience to local weather change by means of the participatory rehabilitation of degraded pure ecosystems on which the lives of native populations rely, together with the reforestation of 5,000 bushes and the promotion of inexperienced entrepreneurship, specifically the conversion of 15 hectares of Typha into ecological building supplies and biofuel briquettes”, defined Aliou Bah, Government Director of NCD.

“The Tocc Tocc reserve was chosen to have fun the World Wetlands Day in Senegal because the mission launched right here matches completely with this 12 months’s theme: “performing for wetlands is performing for humanity and nature. It was due to this fact a wonderful alternative to make folks conscious of the significance of residing in a Ramsar website”  Colonel Assane Ndoye, Head of the Wetlands Division of the Senegalese Nationwide Parks Directorate and Nationwide Focal Level of the Ramsar Conference.

Certainly, the sustainable exploitation of the Typha is just not solely restricted to building makes use of, however it may also be used for feeding animal and as a uncooked materials for producing cleaner power. In Sub-Saharan African international locations, the dearth of entry to power straight impacts 70% of the inhabitants. As well as, round 730 million folks depend on stable fuels for cooking (firewood and charcoal), that are dangerous and whose exploitation places nice strain on forest sources by requiring as much as 10 kg of wooden to supply 1 kg of charcoal.

In Senegal, the place wooden power represents round 80% of the family’s power consumption, upscaling the usage of Typha as biofuel whereas restoring the wetlands and enhancing folks’s livelihoods is a win-win answer.

“We warmly welcome this mission which is able to enhance our residing circumstances and assist ladies learn to course of native pure merchandise”, stated the President of the Ladies’s Group of Tocc Tocc Reserve, Rouguiyatou Sow, noting the significance of the mission’s aims to empower ladies by means of inexperienced entrepreneurship, notably gardening and processing. “There are numerous native vegetation and fruits which could be remodeled and supply earnings to our communities, however we lack coaching and tools”, she added.

“Within the face of threats to this internationally essential reserve, we’re satisfied that the direct involvement of native communities in nature conservation and restoration is important to keep up the a number of advantages of the wetland. The instance set by planting bushes and selling inexperienced jobs right here will serve to copy methods and finest practices in Senegal, within the sub-region and alongside the flyway,” defined Geoffroy Citegetse, Supervisor of the East Atlantic Flyway Initiative.

Moreover, the mission will contribute to the Pan-African Nice Inexperienced Wall (PAGGW) initiative to revive the Sahel by means of job creation and restoration of biodiversity, thus contributing to the discount of malnutrition, emigration, and different anthropogenic threats to the setting within the Sahel.

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