Combating the advance of the deserts | French television

By rethinking our relationship with nature, by helping it to adapt and by agreeing to share our resources with the local fauna and flora, we will be able to counteract the advance of the deserts, limit the drought that we will become. faced with for the next few years. years and avoid forced climatic migrations. “As the desert approaches”, reads the new unpublished “Sur le front”, which will be broadcast on Monday at 21.00 on France 5.

“On the front line – as the desert approaches”. © Winter Productions

It is actually far from the Sahara, so it’s a little hard to see that it can have such a big impact on us and our regions.

Marie Dumont, director of the Center for Snow Studies in Grenoble

It is the story of a desert, the extent of which continues to grow, capable of reaching our country by means of sirocco. It has nipped away by another 10% in a century, or the equivalent of the area on the French mainland. The Sahara alone is the symbol of the changes we are undergoing. In Adrar, Mauritania, rainfall has dropped by 35% in seventy years. We could then smile when we discover these drops of water falling from the sky during the filming, but a single drizzle will never be enough to compensate for the long months without rain. Plants have certainly learned to adapt, to catch water in depth. But the dryness of the place seems relentlessly gaining ground, endangering an entire ecosystem.

To me, the water in Namibia is truly the source through which anything is possible. Fog is the only source of moisture found in this desert. And this mist, it will give life to many species of animals in the desert (…). And here what I find absolutely amazing, and which, I think, can be a key to survival for the human species, is rather that we adapt to nature, that we adapt to water, that we adapt to resources, that we adapt to wild animals. . And my fight today is to help humans and animals share water resources without killing each other.

Félix Vallat, natural scientist and founder of the Tosco Association (Tourism Supporting Conservation – for responsible and beneficial tourism for Namibia)

Sharing resources instead of confronting

To maintain a flimsy but existing balance between wildlife, villages and the plant environment, men are busy. They refuse to give up, letting climate change and the desert dictate their future. So without even consulting with each other here and there, they create a possible future from scratch. Planting, sowing, restoration of wetlands, reintroduction of endangered species. And as you will see, their actions are viable. Admittedly, in the light of the rapid climate change that has taken place, they must redouble their efforts to really reverse the trend, but it is still possible. And it again gives courage to those who experience it on a daily basis. If Félix Vallat has created and funded with his association tribal water basins so that villagers and elephants can live together (thus avoiding elephants breaking pipes or toilets to drink), others have chosen to sow the land, by all possible means. Relying as much on the good will of humans as on the help of animals to extend the reach of their seeds. One of the projects launched several years ago is to save the Great Green Wall by restore hundreds of millions of hectares of degraded land in the eleven countries of the Sudano-Sahel Strip. Not only would this prevent emigration, drought, poverty and famine, but this vast green space would capture tons of carbon. A project that would also benefit farmed or wild animals. In the United Arab Emirates, clouds are even seeded to cause rain. Although it is difficult to measure the benefits of this method, the emirates believe in this technology. In Dubai, a district is designed to withstand high heat, dryness and lack of water. Three thousand people take advantage of this green oasis imagined by a Frenchman, where wastewater is recycled to be recycled, where it is possible to walk on naturally shady paths, where the carbon footprint is finally limited. An environmentally responsible and transposable model that not only provides food for thought about adaptability in desert terrain, but also about our current urban architecture.

If we plant a lot, we will fight against the advance of the desert and life will resume.

Haïdar El Ali, former Minister for the Environment, Director-General of the Senegalese Forest Replication Agency and the Great Green Wall

Excellent sequences

When the French mountains look like the Sahara
It looks like the dunes in the Sahara, but this picture was taken in the metropolitan area of ​​France. Marie Dumont, a snow researcher, takes samples at altitude and discovers that snow browned by sand absorbs more of the sun’s rays: After a sand rain, the snow pack melts faster than normal.

Unique shooting in the plane that makes it rain in the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates has a fleet of aircraft at a military base intended only to bring rain. Exceptionally, we were able to film a cloud seeding operation: study of cloud warfare.

The “water war” between humans and wildlife in Namibia
In this village in the Namib desert it has not rained for six years. The drought is such that lions and elephants come dangerously close to find water. To prevent the villagers from being forced to shoot down the threatening big cats, a Frenchman fights and invents devices to keep the lions away from the inhabitants.

Exclusive. We followed the return to nature of the scimitar-horned oryx
In Chad, around a French military base. Here come the soldiers of the special forces, who are fighting terrorism, to lend a hand in an even larger operation: the reintroduction of the scimitar-horned oryx. The species had disappeared into the wild and we were only able to follow a stage of its reintroduction. Raised in a center in the United Arab Emirates, they are transported by plane and then by truck to the Chadian desert to be released freely. They are crucial in the fight against the advance of the desert.

Senegal: the great struggle to make the desert greener
In hand, with a slingshot, by plane … In Senegal, all means are good for planting seeds and bringing biodiversity back. The inhabitants have embarked on a pharaonic project: to plant a green wall over thousands of kilometers to combat drought.

In fifty years, a third of humanity will live in areas as hot as the Sahara today, according to scientists.

Hugo Clément, excerpt from his head

On the front – when the desert approaches

Hugo Clément examines in France the Sahara rainfall and takes to meet those who protect us from the advance of the desert. Travel in the middle of the dunes, in submerged villages or futuristic cities that emerge from the sand and in the company of inhabitants who have to adapt to an increasingly arid climate.

Magazine (55 min – unpublished) – Creation Directed by Lamanna-Rodat and Hugo Clement – Presentation Hugo Clement – Editor-in-Chief Pierre Barn Recognition of Felix Seger – Credits composer Studio31DB – Film composer Worakls – Production Winter productions – Co-production French television

This magazine will be released on Monday, April 4 at 21.00 at France 5
On the front – As the desert approachescan be seen and reviewed on


“According to the climate projections of a scenario work as usual*, more than 20% of Earth’s land mass may cross one or more of the thresholds identified by this study by 2100 due to climate change (to see briefly below). Life will not disappear from arid areas, but these results suggest that our planet’s ecosystems will experience sudden changes that will directly affect more than 2 billion people currently living in arid areas and beyond. The study thus shows that the Mediterranean, including the southern half of France, may be particularly affected by these phenomena, radically changing the landscapes we know.
The results of this study should make it possible to better predict the effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems and thus establish appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures.

Vulnerability map of arid areas in the face of climate change

Vulnerability map of arid areas in the face of climate change


Dry zones are defined as tropical and temperate zones with a dryness index greater than 0.6. They include sub-humid, semi-arid, arid and hyper-arid ecosystems, such as Mediterranean maquis, steppes, savannas and deserts. This map includes areas that may cross one or more thresholds described according to the dryness predicted for 2100 by IPCC RCP8.5 (ie assuming a sustained increase in CO2 emissions).

* According to the dry levels predicted in 2100 by the IPCC RCP8.5 scenario (which means provided an increase in CO2 emissions as observed today). »
Source: INRAE

Published March 31, 2022

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