A Dutch land engineer wants to turn the Sinai desert into a green forest, using techniques widely proven in China.
Given the fact that any human activity can lead to permanent degradation of the landscape, it should be entirely reasonable to return the landscape to a greener more watered state.
Ties Van der Hoeven, Dutch morphologist and founder of The Weather Makers Holistic Engineering was contacted by his Egyptian colleagues, who asked him if an attempt could be made to re-dredge Lake Bardawil in the Sinai Peninsula to its natural state.
The depth of the lake was 20-40 meters, but today it is only a few meters deep. Dredging the lake and cutting canals to let in more water from the Mediterranean would make it deeper, cooler and less salty – all of which would boost the fish stocks, and bring out more rain.
During the project’s survey, van der Hoeven realized that the bottom of the lake had been mainly acting as a sewer for the entire peninsula’s runoff for thousands of years.
Van der Hoeven discovered records of ancient monasteries that count timber exports, and cave drawings of trees and grass, giving evidence of a scientific theory that the Sinai, and all of North Africa, was once green. “Satellite images reveal a network of rivers flowing from the mountains in the south towards the Mediterranean,” he added.
The Sahara does not need a unique cause to make it the largest hot desert in the world, as ancient humans across North Africa could have disrupted the delicate vegetation that was necessary to preserve the soil and keep it watered, “desertifying the area much faster”.
Millán Millán, a Spanish meteorologist and Director of Green Gold, along with Van der Hoeven both have independently come to the same conclusion about the effect of human tinkering with landscapes.
Basically, if one cuts trees and degrades the ecosystem, the rain will eventually disappear, because vegetation is necessary to hold water in the ground and return it to the sky.
“Water creates water, soil is the womb, and plants are the midwife,” according to Milan’s simple principle, which was published in The Guardian.
Creating Artificial Rain in the Desert
Van der Hoeven aims to start restoring the Sinai water cycle, after the lake Bardawil, he wants to return to the surrounding area to ensure the landscape holds wetlands.
He wants to ascend to heights, 700 meters or 2,100 feet above sea level, where a fog catcher can be used to collect condensed moisture at high altitudes.
He added that with billions of tons of lake sediment from Bardawil, terraces can be constructed for agriculture. The sediments also contain an enormous amount of organic matter, which can be used to re-fertilize wasteland.
John Todd, a marine biologist said that in Sinai eco machines will be used to grow plants and produce fresh water. The water feeding the environmental will be salt water, but the water that condenses inside will be fresh water, which can then be used to irrigate the plants.
Changing Hills into Terraces to Hold the Rain
If the structure is designed properly, one would only need to barrel on the outside to create an artificial ‘rain’ inside. When plants and soil inside a greenhouse reach a certain level of maturity, they become self-sufficient.
A unique kind of technology could be being deployed, turning a large barrel of water into a kind of “vivarium” in the Sinai ecosystem under the cover of greenhouses. While plants grow around them as the water component slowly evaporates, leaving salt behind.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government is close to signing contracts for the first phase of the restoration plan that covers the cliff of Lake Bardawil.
The peninsula’s unique geological position means that it functions as a rain funnel, directing moist air from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. Instead, the wetter and greenest Sinai absorbs some of that moisture, traps it, and distributes it as rain across the Middle East and Africa, and the entire region.