Heat waves and extreme temperatures are becoming the norm in Botswana and numerous climate change models point to the fact that the whole world is in a race against time to save the planet. Now a group of Batswana researchers are not leaving anything to chance as they are embarking on a research to determine which local tree and plant species are likely to survive climate change. Mpho Mosweu who is the lead researcher of the project entitled “Save Botswana” says it is undeniable that we are facing an existential crisis, depending on which research you choose to believe.
“So rather than us waiting for other countries to take action and reduce their carbon footprint, we have decided to study particular tree species that will survive both rural and urban landscapes in Botswana,” he says, adding that such studies will assist nursery growers and practitioners.
A few weeks ago, the message that came out of the United Nations Climate Action Summit — a gathering of world leaders to reduce global emissions by 45 percent over the next decade with a goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 was that unless drastic measures are taken the entire world might reach a stage where the damage would be irrecoverable.
According to Mosweu the research aims to look at which plant species in Botswana will be able to survive the approaching changes in climate. The first of its kind research will be held across Botswana and will investigate tree and plant species which will fare well in adverse weather in rural and urban areas.
He also says the project will last six years and look at three different time spans. “The research team is looking at 2025, 2045 and 2065. “Once the project is completed we will merge this data and upload it online so that nursery growers and practitioners are able to select exact tree and plant species that will survive in rural and urban areas,” he said.
The researchers also say through the use of bioclimatic models, they will examine more than 100 tree species in Botswana to find out which ones will survive harsh environments. “This project will be important for environmental planning because different regions in Botswana are impacted in different ways by climate change,” says Mosweu.
According to Afrobarometer, Botswana is characterised by “erratic rainfall, recurrent droughts, low soil moisture, and extreme weather events such as flash floods”.The pan-African, independent, non-partisan research network also states that frequent drought conditions have had significant impact on domestic food production. Botswana also experienced a devastating drought in 2015/2016, which resulted in the Gaborone dam drying up. The timing and extent of droughts in Botswana is exacerbated by climate change and human-induced changes that have affected the water balance in certain areas.