Promoting tree regeneration in Sahel: Why is it so complicated and where do we go from here

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Denis Gautier and Régis Peltier

Presentation for the conference on
Taking stock of smallholders and community forestry
Montpellier France
March 24-26, 2010

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Promoting tree regeneration in Sahel: Why is it so complicated and where do we go from here

  1. 1. Promoting tree regeneration in Sahel: why is it so complicated and where do we go from here? Denis Gautier & Régis Peltier
  2. 2. Land-cover in West Africa («  GLC 2000 » – Mayaux 2004)
  3. 3. Main issues <ul><li>The history of Sahelian forestry is strongly linked to dramatic environmental and political events </li></ul><ul><li>The international organizations have used these events to reform the way to manage forests in Sahel </li></ul><ul><li>Almost 40 years after the first dramatic droughts, forestry paradigms have changed at least three times </li></ul><ul><li>However, little progress has been registered in terms of forest and tree regeneration, while the wood demand is increasing </li></ul><ul><li>Have the participative and integrative approach of community forestry failed? </li></ul>
  4. 4. The co-evolution of the environmental and political contexts and the forestry reforms <ul><li>During the colonial period and the first part of the post-colonial period: a centralized, restrictive and coercive forestry </li></ul><ul><li>70’s: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1973: first huge drought </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Green barrier” to “fight” the desertification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>State plantations of exotic species with expected high productivity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But also: Creation of the CILSS that try to lead the Central administrations to better involve local people in the forest management </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. State plantations of exotic species with expected high productivity
  6. 6. The co-evolution of the environmental and political context and the forestry reforms <ul><li>Early 80’s: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From State plantations to village plantations mainly with exotic species (ex: World Bank and ‘village forests’) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experiments of “participative” approaches that use the “forest side population” as labor force (ex: BIT in Kita, Mali but also ‘chantiers’ in Burkina) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mid-80’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beginning of more integrative and individualistic approaches such as agroforestry or promotion of individual plantations </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 80’s : Beginning of more integrative and individualistic approaches such as agroforestry
  8. 8. The co-evolution of the environmental and political context and the forestry reforms <ul><li>End 80’s - Early 90’s: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Structural Adjustment plans </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Less State but not necessarily better State: decreased control on the field and increase of corruption </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rural people are seeking more democracy and participative ways of managing forest resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beginning of a ‘revolution’, which lead people to recapture their bush and to ‘plant the seeds’ of decentralization </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. The co-evolution of the environmental and political context and the forestry reforms <ul><li>90’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Launch of decentralization processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Change of paradigm in forestry with the transfer of forest management to local people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(+/- within the framework of decentralization) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Household energy projects in Mali and in Niger </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Chantiers’ around the State forests in Burkina </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ community forestry’ in Senegal, Gambia, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Household energy projects in Mali and in Niger
  11. 11. Key scholars in paradigms’ change <ul><li>Thomson’s proposals in 80’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Giving more power to autonomous local government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privatization of tree tenure and common property resource </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Key scholars in paradigms’ change <ul><li>Bertrand et al and Kerkof proposals in mid-80’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transfer of management authority to local people (professional organizations) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reform of forest fiscal system to promote sustainable management of the commons (differential taxation) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Regulation and control of collective property exploitation </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Transfer of management authority to local people (professional organizations or decentralized authorities)
  14. 14. Key scholars in paradigms’ change <ul><li>Ribot’s proposals in 90’s </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of local authorities as a conditionality to sustainable management of ‘la brousse’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accountability of the involved institutions to empower local democracy </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Few of these changes in Sahelian forest paradigms has lead local people to regenerate trees and forests
  16. 16. Some explanations (1) <ul><li>Technical points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In a multi-purpose landscape, it is not easy to spare a young tree from livestock or ploughshare </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Some species are not so easy to regenerate outside a forest (or long fallow) “ambiance” </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. In a multi-purpose landscape, Not so easy to tree regenerate outside a savanna « ambiance »
  18. 18. Some explanations (2) <ul><li>Social points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Until farmers and herders perceive resource scarcities and view them as gravely threatening, they manage the forest in a ‘passive’ way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scientists were wrong about the forest resource scarcity in Sahel, and they have maybe discouraged donors </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cf Arnold explanation on the importance of parklands and fallows in wood supply </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Savannas are more resilient than expected </li></ul></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Some explanations (3) <ul><li>Institutional and Political points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sahelian officials have inherited and internalized the French colonial administration’s antipathy to non-government sponsored collective action </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The actual forest administrations ambivalent about resistance to decentralization processes and an attraction for nasty fines </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Some explanations (3’) <ul><li>Institutional and Political points: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Local people know the limit of voluntary action in preserving unregulated common property resources and attempt informal privatization </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>People personally know free-riders when investment in resource preservation is promoted </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The inflation of institutions governing the commons generate power conflicts that are profitable to free-riders </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. This has worked!!!!
  22. 22. This has worked! <ul><li>‘ Faidherbia operation’ that aims to encourage farmers to identify and protect the growth of naturally regenerating Faidherbia albida trees in their fields (South Niger, Northern Cameroon) </li></ul>
  23. 23. This has worked! <ul><li>Tree regeneration on erosion control terrace between individual fields in Northern Cameroon </li></ul>
  24. 24. This has worked! <ul><li>Individual small scale plantations of eucalypts around soudanian town </li></ul>
  25. 25. This has worked! <ul><li>Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) in Niger linked to the development of value chains (counters of palm leaves, arabic gum, etc…) </li></ul>
  26. 26. This has worked! <ul><li>Some industrial plantations of gum trees by exporters or transformers (Valdafrique in Sénégal, etc.)…. </li></ul>
  27. 27. This has worked! <ul><li>Re-appropriation of woody resource by the villagers through woodcutters’ organizations in Niger and Mali at the detriment of urban traders but with no real commitment in a sustainable management (at least, till now) </li></ul>
  28. 28. Why is this working ? <ul><li>When access to land is secured at least for the gathering of the forest products (which explains that most of the success stories are on individual fields) </li></ul><ul><li>When a reliable demand exists for the forest products </li></ul><ul><li>When an individual or a social group can control all or a part of the forest product chain </li></ul>
  29. 29. Why is this working ? <ul><li>When the development projects spread an innovation with a clear and explicit objective </li></ul><ul><li>When the support is done on long-term, from plantation to commercialization of products </li></ul><ul><li>When a social group is strong enough to impose its own rules on competing users on the same land; or when a social group finds allies instead of competing users </li></ul>
  30. 30. Conclusions <ul><li>Reforestation in Sahel is mainly due to individual actions linked to well-established chains </li></ul><ul><li>Community forestry is a failure in term of tree regeneration in Sahel </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Will privatization of common pool resource help in a context of multi-uses and multi-actors, where poor people benefit from informal chains ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will the experience of household energy projects that lead local people to recapture their territories be followed by an investment in forest regeneration in the next 10 years ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What will be the benefit from new tools linked to global agendas on biodiversity and carbon sequestration : </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>an opportunity ( tenure clarification and additionality ) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>a menace (tenure ‘complexification’, struggles and poor exclusion) ? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  31. 31. Thank you for your attention!

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