7 billion trees outside forests in Africa first reported in new data survey



7 billion trees outside forests in Africa first reported in new data survey

A data collection and analysis initiative led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the African Union Commission (AUC) has revealed 7 billion trees outside forests for the first time, among other findings. The survey is the first consistent representation of land use on the continent, revealing more forests and more arable land than previously detected.

FAO and the AUC today presented the findings of the Africa Open DEAL (Data for Environment, Agriculture and Land) initiative that has made Africa the first continent to complete the collection of accurate, comprehensive and harmonized digital data on land use and land use change. Provides a detailed snapshot of the continent, captured through more than 300,000 sample points between 2018 and 2020.

“Africa DEAL shows that science and innovation can provide real solutions and that collaboration and joint experience lead to the best results. It supports the transformation towards more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems for better production and better nutrition. a better environment and a better life for all, “said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General, speaking via video at the online event.

Other findings announced today are that the area of ​​the Great Green Wall continental initiative has 393 million hectares of land with restoration potential and opportunities and that 350 million hectares of farmland are cultivated in Africa, more than double the number in Africa. the European Union.

The findings reveal enormous opportunities for environmental, agricultural and land use management in Africa, and increase the ability of countries to track change and conduct analysis for informed sustainable production, restoration interventions and action. climatic. Today’s event attendees also heard how countries can detect where deforestation is occurring, where settlement lands are encroaching on farmland or grasslands, and where wetlands are being lost.

“This collaboration has provided an assurance that we can still turn the tide, that we can still restore degraded land for agricultural use, through models like agroforestry, that we can still stop desertification, that we can still fight climate change, and, above all, that we can still restore hope to humanity despite difficulties, “said Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment.

Pan-African Environmental Data Collection Provides Interesting Insights

FAO and the AUC, with the support of the Pan-African Agency for the Great Green Wall, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and 30 African countries, coordinated the data collection operation on a scale never before seen in agriculture, environment and land use. .

Analysts were trained to use Collect Earth, an open source tool developed by FAO with support from Google. More than 100 parameters were collected at each sampling point of approximately 0.5 hectares, including tree counts, farmland, forest fires, and existing infrastructure. The data was analyzed to highlight the change in land use over the past 20 years and the restoration potential at the national level for each country. The very high-resolution images allowed analysts to assess hard-to-reach places in the field, leading them to discover the 7 billion previously unrecorded trees.

“The Africa Open DEAL tells us that there are 350 million hectares of cultivated farmland in Africa, twice the amount in the European Union. So why should we keep talking about continued hunger in Africa? Now we have new information and it needs to be used in our fight against hunger on the continent, “said Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

Empower data users with geospatial technology

This new digital geospatial technology provides great opportunities for data users and provides open access to earth observation and climate data with free computational power. The Africa Open DEAL data and information is integrated into FAO’s Hand in Hand Initiative geospatial platform and can be accessed by anyone via EarthMap (

The fact-based information is based on the Great Green Wall databases, which have created unique knowledge and biophysical baseline data through the Action Against Desertification program. “The Africa Open DEAL proof of concept is firmly anchored in FAO’s large-scale restoration model in support of the Great Green Wall,” said Moctar Sacande, who coordinates FAO’s Action Against Desertification program.

The Africa Open DEAL initiative is made possible by partnerships and financial support from the European Union, Germany and Turkey.

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