Thomas Sankara: Revolutionary Reforestation

In 1983, Burkina Faso's military leader Thomas Sankara ushered in the One Village, One Grove policy to combat the growing desertification in the small West African nation. The tree-planting policy involved the reforestation of Northern Burkina Faso to delay the expansion of the Sahel and prevent the loss of arable land. In other parts of the nation, the policy was implemented in the form of compulsory tree planting every weekend. Every residential area was encouraged to plant trees in its periphery. The strategy accompanied the country's large investment in infrastructure with the construction of dams, water reservoirs, and irrigation systems across the country. Approximately ten million trees were planted in the four years of Sankara's leadership before his assassination during a coup d'état in 1987. Today, Burkina Faso has one of the highest rates of desertification in the world with 30% of the arable lands of country (approx. 92 000 km2) is degraded. The consequences of such land degradation includes food insecurity, drought, conflict and loss of biodiversity.




In other parts of the world, more successful reforestation efforts have been implemented on different scales; most notably the Hinewai Reservation in New Zealand as well as the reforestation of South Korean forests after the US-Korean war.