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A broad green swathe

By David Arnault


On this anzac day

with all else forgotten

but the events of all those years ago

when Australia and Canada

India and New Zealand

followed blindly the British establishment

into the fury of carnage

against nations and peoples

we had no quarrel with,

it is worthwhile to remember

that it is possible for nations

to cooperate

and to create great things.


Many are the pejoratives

associated with the world’s

developing, developed,

underdeveloped nations, 

but sometimes we have to sit up

and take notice of people from elsewhere

seeing more clearly than

the god-blessed of our world.


While we in Australia 

and the rest of the smug

English-speaking world,

we are erasing ecosystems

as if they were a line of ants 

marching across the kitchen bench

climbing up into the cupboards,

and threatening our next meal,

disrupting our lives

serving a godless purpose

hidden from us. 


As I tip-tap type on this keyboard, 

a great movement is taking place,

and it is African,

and it not only exhibits human behaviour

unlikely to be seen here

in the near future,

people cooperating, 

working with neighbours,

working with those 

in neighbouring countries,

building a future 

which does not involve destruction.

Rather it is a grand effort 

and it is an example that human beings

can work cooperatively,

can work across political frontiers.


In English, it’s called

the Great Green Wall of Africa.

It was first mooted in 2002,

as a way to halt the advance of the Sahara.


The southern section,

eight thousand miles across

the widest part of Africa,

and 50 kilometres in depth,

the wall will run from the Atlantic

to the Red Sea. 


The northern section like the southern,

represents a ‘mosaic of interventions’

and a boost to rural development.’


But the Great Green Wall has become more

The $8-billion project plans to restore 

100 million hectares of land

create 350,000 rural jobs 

and absorb 250 million tons 

of carbon dioxide 

from the atmosphere.


And where there are trees,

the chance of rain will be enhanced,

so perhaps it becomes self-sustaining.


Local planning including choices of trees

rest with local populations,

a concept well worth trying 

in other parts of the world.


We have seen over and over again

how we treat our ecosystems,

and these days the Murray Darling basin

springs to mind. 

But this list is long,

the contempt 

of government and industry

breathtaking,


Cynics among us will argue

that once the trees are mature,

VicForests, or some equivalent agency,

will cut them down and sell them

to a paper mill in Japan,

to publish a major paper

on sustainability.


I, for one, am not cynical.

Let us learn from our African

brothers and sisters

and save our ecosystems.


yours in solidarity and love


david arnault




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