Description/achievement of initiative
Beginning in the 1980s, a new method of reforestation, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), became an increasingly popular solution to the rapid deforestation problem.
Source: World Resources Institute (2011) A Compilation of Green Economy Policies, Programs, and Initiatives from Around the World. The Green Economy in Practice: Interactive Workshop 1, February 11th, 2011
During the 1950s and 1960s, rapid deforestation of land in Niger for agricultural purposes resulted in severe desertification. Conventional tree planting to combat desertification had only limited success. Beginning in the 1980s, a new method of reforestation, FMNR, became an increasingly popular solution to the problem. FMNR is based on the regeneration of native trees and shrubs from mature root systems of previously cleared desert shrubs and trees. Regeneration techniques are used in agricultural cropland and to manage trees as part of a farm enterprise. FMNR in the savannas of southern Niger adapts centuries-old methods of woodland management to produce continuous harvests of trees for fuel, building materials, and food and fodder without the need for frequent, costly replanting. Trees are trimmed and pruned to maximize harvests while promoting optimal growing conditions (such as access to water and sunlight).
Government decentralization policies supporting land tenure and tree growth reforms. Nonprofit organizations, donor governments, and international aid agencies encouraged and assisted farmers in adopting low-cost techniques for managing the natural regeneration of trees and shrubs.
The benefits of the project are as follows:
- Improved food security as at least 250,000 hectares of degraded land reclaimed for crop production;
- Expanded cultivation of cereals and vegetables, with harvests doubling in some areas;
- Many rural producers have doubled or tripled their incomes through the sale of wood, seed pods, and edible leaves;
- Improved stocks of fuel wood and fodder;
- Average time spent by women collecting firewood has fallen from 2.5 hours to half an hour;
- An increase of 10- to 20-fold in tree and shrub cover on about 5 million hectares of land, with approximately 200 million trees protected and managed;
- Soil fertility improved as higher tree densities act as windbreaks to counter erosion, provide enriching mulch and fix nitrogen in root systems;
- Increased population of wild fauna, including hares, wild guinea fowls, squirrels and jackals;
- New food export markets created, primarily to Nigeria;
- Creation of specialized local markets in buying, rehabilitating, and reselling degraded lands, with land values rising by 75 to 140% in some areas.