7 billion ‘extra’ trees have been discovered in Africa – part of the continent’s ongoing efforts to restore and reforest the land

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Sean Fleming, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • 7 billion trees that hadn’t been counted before have been discovered in Africa.
  • The collaboration between Google and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has also identified many opportunities for improved land use.
  • The data could help in the fight against deforestation and defend against climate change.

Scientists have discovered billions of previously unrecorded trees in Africa, thanks to a collaboration between Google and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Using an open-source tech tool called Collect Earth, a team of more than 350 African experts helped review, scan and analyze data from 88,000 sites across the continent. They examined land use and changes in that use over the past 20 years. One of their findings has been almost seven billion trees that, until now, hadn’t been counted.

The newly discovered trees are located outside of forests, and are distributed across an area equivalent to 537 million hectares. It wasn’t just trees that were discovered. The team concluded that there are more forests and more arable land than had been recorded in the past.

88,000 sites were analyzed across Africa and the tree data recorded.
88,000 sites were analyzed across Africa and the tree data recorded. Image: FAO

The Great Green Wall

Collect Earth pulls in high-resolution satellite imagery and mapping data from Google Earth and Bing Maps. It can be used to check and validate existing maps, monitor land in rural and urban areas, collect data that can be used for socio-economic analysis and measure deforestation, reforestation and desertification.

Desertification has transformed an area called the Sahel in western and north-central Africa. Large tracts of fertile land have dried up and been assimilated into the nearby Sahara desert. Many African nations are on the front lines of climate-related upheavals like this and are taking steps to fight back.

The great green wall of Africa.
The great green wall of Africa. Image: UN FAO

In 2007, more than 20 African countries actively began working on an initiative called the Great Green Wall – a green belt of trees and forests stretching 8,000km from Senegal in the west, to Djibouti in the east.

“A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale,” the Great Green Wall website says.

As well as providing food security and jobs, the Wall “promises to be a compelling solution to the many urgent threats not only facing the African Continent, but the global community as a whole – notably climate change, drought, famine, conflict and migration,” it continues.

Reversing the deforestation trend could be one of the most effective ways to limit the harmful effects of climate change. Teaming up with organizations like the Tropical Forest Alliance and the One Trillion Trees movement, the World Economic Forum is working towards the creation of a series of global public-private partnerships made up of businesses, governments, civil society, indigenous people and international organizations. https://platform.twitter.com/embed/Tweet.html?dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&features=eyJ0ZndfZXhwZXJpbWVudHNfY29va2llX2V4cGlyYXRpb24iOnsiYnVja2V0IjoxMjA5NjAwLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X2hvcml6b25fdHdlZXRfZW1iZWRfOTU1NSI6eyJidWNrZXQiOiJodGUiLCJ2ZXJzaW9uIjpudWxsfSwidGZ3X3NwYWNlX2NhcmQiOnsiYnVja2V0Ijoib2ZmIiwidmVyc2lvbiI6bnVsbH19&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1439831695201497095&lang=en&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.weforum.org%2Fagenda%2F2021%2F10%2F7-billion-trees-discovered-africa-deforestation%2F&sessionId=db30fe1180931c6ee0e0da57a9944ac2cecc5d3c&theme=light&widgetsVersion=fcb1942%3A1632982954711&width=550px

A major milestone for Africa

The Collect Earth project’s name was the Africa Open DEAL, which stands for Data for Environment, Agriculture and Land. “Africa [is] the first continent to complete the collection of accurate, comprehensive, and harmonized digital land use and land-use change data,” the FAO says.

A team of more than 350 people with knowledge of the landscapes and land uses, gathered data using Collect Earth and then worked on in it a series of group sessions called Mapathons. These were run and organized by the Panafrican Agency of the Great Green Wall and the Southern Africa Development Community, along with the FAO.

The survey has assessed the Great Green Wall initiative to have 393 million hectares of land that could be planted and restored. It has also identified opportunities for agricultural land management that could deliver improved, sustainable yields.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Constitution of the 9th legislature of the European Parliament

To solve big issues like climate change, we need to reframe our problems

Any doubt?

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

A Sting Exclusive: “Accelerating Trade Digitalization in Times of the Pandemic”, written by the UN Under-Secretary-General and Head of ESCAP

NATO summit, Brussels, 11-12/07/2018

The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union will impact young people’s future the most

Guterres welcomes conduct of Afghan elections, commends ‘all who braved security concerns to uphold their right to vote’

Can I still send mail in the time of coronavirus?

Stable growth momentum in the OECD area

A brief history of vaccines and how they changed the world

Quality Internships: Towards a Toolkit for Employers

This company is breeding millions of insects in the heart of London

7 surprising and outrageous stats about gender inequality

Welfare of transported animals: MEPs urge EU states to do a better job

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

EP leaders call for negotiations on upgraded Transparency Register to continue

Eight years after Fukushima, nuclear power is making a comeback

Black historical figures who shook the world, from a warrior queen to a Mexican president

Parliament approves key directive regulating professional qualifications

Russia won’t let Ukraine drift westwards in one piece

Elections in Europe: No risks for the EU, leaders readying to face Trump-Brexit

More needs to be done to bridge the digital gender divide

Technology and public healthcare: the basis to fight COVID-19

Forest fires: EU continues to mobilise assistance for Greece and other countries in region

Data Protection Regulation one year on: 73% of Europeans have heard of at least one of their rights

Too Young to Feel Hopeless – Mental Health of the Youth and the Effects of COVID-19

EU will have stronger powers in trade disputes

UNICEF calls on supply chain and transport industry to take COVID-19 vaccines to the world

Nairobi summit: Women’s empowerment a ‘game changer’ for sustainable development

Syria: At least seven children killed in yet another airstrike

Budget MEPs approve €104.2 m in EU aid to Greece, Spain, France and Portugal

This woman solved one of the biggest problems facing green energy

Withdrawal Agreement: Commission sends letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom for breach of its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland

‘You can and should do more’ to include people with disabilities, wheelchair-bound Syrian advocate tells Security Council in searing speech

3 dynamics shaping the future of security on the Korean peninsula

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: Women boost work profits, saving biodiversity, UK loses Chagos Islands vote, Gaza funding, malaria-free in Argentina, Algeria

Madagascar: UN Secretary-General reaffirms support for electoral process

Chart of the day: This is how many animals we eat each year

New Zealand Prime Minister opens door to 4-day working week

Digital democracy: a Swiss view on digital trust

Libya: Heavy shelling and civilian deaths ‘blatant violation’ of international law – UN envoy

Coronavirus: Commission presents practical guidance to ensure continuous flow of goods across EU via green lanes

Further reforms in Sweden can drive growth, competitiveness and social cohesion

Plastic is a global problem. It’s also a global opportunity

‘Counter and reject’ leaders who seek to ‘exploit differences’ between us, urges Guterres at historic mosque in Cairo

Avocado: the ‘green gold’ causing environment havoc

A third of young people polled by UN, report being a victim of online bullying

As ride-hailing firms drive into the future, who is being left behind?

COVID-19 has been a setback for women. Gender-responsive policies can stem the losses

How India can become a leader in sustainable aviation fuel

‘Stealing’ food from hungry Yemenis ‘must stop immediately’, says UN agency

Why is scientific collaboration key? 4 experts explain

Women in Switzerland have gone on strike – this is why

Climate change hits the poor hardest. Mozambique’s cyclones prove it

COVID-19: Commission creates first ever rescEU stockpile of medical equipment

MEPs strengthen EU financial watchdogs

More than 90% of the world’s children are breathing toxic air

Chart of the day: These countries have seen the biggest falls in extreme poverty

Security: better access to data for border control and migration management

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: