Studies simulating the large-scale afforestation of the African Sahel constantly find warning signals of increased risk of extreme temperatures and heatwaves resulting from changes in albedo and latent heat flow. We review the afforestation measures underlying three simulation studies, together with a restoration model in which compartments are formed by greenbelts to enable succession of savanna vegetation, protected from hot wind and drought. Savanna-like vegetation (around 20% woody plants) will show bright reflective surface and drying of leaves during dry season rather than constant green color, with very different impact on albedo and temperatures. We derive that the simulated risks of extreme heat and flooding from rain will strongly depend on species, shape and density of the new vegetation. Ecological restoration concepts are expected to mitigate or prevent such restoration related climatic risks. Compact afforestation of the Sahel does not appear to be necessary or feasible.

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