Egypt has undergone an ambitious project: growing a forest in the middle of the desert using wastewater in the hopes of preserving the environment, reducing pollution, and optimizing the use of natural water resources.
According to Ragaei Saafan, project manager in Serapium, the trees have grown four times faster than in any other forest in Europe where the weather is much more favorable. While an average of 60 years is needed for a tree in Europe to become mature, 15 years is more than enough for the trees to mature in this forest.
The wastewater is channeled in underground basins, then boosted with microorganisms and oxygen to accelerate the purification process. Once the water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, it is stored throughout the forest.
The reforestation project started in 1998. To this day, the Serapium Forest covers 8,000 km and is 15% completed. By the time it is completed in 2030, the forest should cover 100 million hectares and should cost an estimated $8 billion. Ultimately, the goal is to optimize the use of treated sewage water, produce wood and create new wood-based industries, produce biofuels, protect the country against desertification and erosion, solve the problem of food security, stabilize sand dunes, protect the coasts and boost tourism.