According to a mapping analysis conducted by the World Resources Institute in 2014, the majority of land in the Sahel is degraded. This is a result of intense pressure on natural resources: low rainfall, high temperatures, severe aridity, poor soil quality, population growth, and security and governance problems.
The populations of Burkina Faso and Niger rely heavily on these lands for pastoralism, subsistence farming, food supply, pharmacopoeia and energy. The FFEM is looking to help these people by supporting a project for forest and landscape restoration (FLR). The objective is to create healthy and fertile areas where local communities, ecosystems and other stakeholders can coexist as part of a sustainable land management (SLM) approach.
The project has three components:
- Enhancing skills in communities for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating FLR/SLM actions and income-generating activity (IGA), as well as skills at national level to support and advise six pilot communities – three in Burkina Faso and three in Niger – implementing specific FLR/SLM and IGA actions in each country.
- Generating and sharing knowledge on FLR/SLM at subregional and international levels.
- Implementing, monitoring and evaluating project activities.
- Enhancing FLR/SLM skills among local stakeholders, by deploying nine operational agents in Niger and Burkina Faso, devolved from the ministries responsible for rural development and land services, who will produce biannual reports
- Improving natural resources by restoring 1,500 hectares and recovering 9,000 hectares of land, developing 1,000 hectares of forest, reforesting 2,000 hectares in Niger and planting 1.25 million seedlings in Burkina Faso
- Better identifying the carbon and biodiversity costs/benefits of RFP/SLM in the Sahel, with two theses on two sites, three publications and two international communications
The FFEM is innovating with this project, by placing rural communities at the heart of action for sustainable land management; an approach in keeping with the move towards decentralisation seen in Burkina Faso and Niger. By enhancing the communities’ skills to implement and manage the project (planning, execution, monitoring and evaluating actions), handing over management of the trust fund to them and empowering them to recruit technicians, the suitability of the project’s approach to achieving reproducibility can be determined.
Furthermore, tests are currently being carried out on a digital tool (Collect Earth-Open Foris) which uses free satellite imagery to assess reference data and monitor land uses and vegetation cover, with a view to providing communities with the most accurate information possible.