Native trees in African drylands serve as water harvesters

September 8, 2014

A research conducted by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and  the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) shows the important role of Africa drylands’ trees in retaining water in the soil.

The study compares three different experimental areas (with shea trees; with shea trees and termites; without trees) and demonstrates that soil infiltrability is five times higher in sites with trees than in those without trees. The presence of soil fauna, such as termites, also increases infiltrability by creating underground galleries that fast track the water flow towards deeper layers of the ground. Water runoff is therefore reduced on the surface, which in turn reduces soil erosion and water evaporation.

According to the researchers, the popular belief that native trees would have a drying effect in African drylands was based on the wrong assumption that the findings from experiments in temperate regions would apply in arid areas as well. Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) encourages regeneration of native trees for the many benefits and product that trees bring (fruit, nectar and pollen for bees, fodder, firewood and timber).

Read full article: World Agroforestry Centre