Spate News April 14, 2014

Prosopis Juliflora

With this news flash we want to draw your attention to important challenges related to Prosopis Juliflora or Mesquite, also called the ‘Green Scourge’ or the “Devil Tree”. Prosopis Juliflorea has been introduced in many parts of the world for sand dune stablization but has gone far beyond it -and has occupied vast areas and invaded many spate areas- in the process interfering with the ephemeral rivers and the canals.

While on the one hand proposis juliflora is a major threat and one that is very hard to eradicate, on the other it is also an opportunity, a source of biomass, fuel and fodder outcompeting any other plant in some of the most barren and poorest part of the world.

To control the threat in a feasible and effective manner and to make use of the opportunity in our view a concerted global effort is required. We are very happy that on 1-2 May 2014 the Spate Irrigation Network and GiZ organize a conference on the invasive species – to share experiences in different parts of the world and explore ways forward.  Also two important studies have come out. First is the new Practical Note that thanks to contributions of several members of the Spate Irrigation Network put together experiences in Ethiopia, Australia, Pakistan, Sudan and Yemen, Controlling and/or Using Prosopis Juliflora in Spate Irrigated Systems (click on the title to read/download it). Second is the recent MSc by Hamisi Said Nzumira, Mesquite Trees Infestation of the Gash Spate Irrigation System in Kassala State, Sudan,  who among others used satellite images to trace the development of prosopis juliflora in the Gash Delta in Sudan over 34 years. One finding is the increase of 24 to 38 % of land cover: clearly prosopis is here to stay and a large part of the economic management of the area is how to effectively deal with this ‘mixed blessing’.  Another major finding is that this dramatic increase in prosopis may have a lot to do with lowering groundwater tables in the Gash Delta.

Kind regards,

Abraham, Frank, Linda.