Regreening Mopti, an arid region of Mali bordering the Sahara desert

Regreening Mopti, an arid region of Mali bordering the Sahara desert

Planting trees and nurturing seedlings proves key to improved yields

Assisted Natural Regeneration is very simple. Trees grow naturally in your field; all you need to do is to look after them and take care not to cut them down. The fallen leaves can be used for compost on the field, branches for fuel wood for our women and their fruit serves as food.

Amadou Coulibaly, farmer in Mopti region

CONTEXT

Worsening soil degradation in recent decades – a result of population growth, inappropriate farming methods, and increasingly arid weather patterns linked to climate change - has undermined Mali's capacity to produce food. In response, the Malian government has prioritised reforestation as a means to combat both the degradation of natural resources and poverty.

OBJECTIVES

  • Work with 16 rural communities to improve the cover of woody vegetation through local level reforestation activities.
  • Use Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR), a technique of nurturing natural tree seedlings – through removing flammable plants and undergrowth - to enable forested areas to regenerate.
  • Work with farmers and local associations to improve crop cover and cultivation across a broad area, for the benefit of local people.

RESULTS

  • 141 000 trees planted and 700 000 trees protected thanks to good management and the application of ANR.
  • 30 people trained in water and soil conservation techniques and 35 ha of degraded land have been restored.
  • 16 agreements signed with local communities regarding the management of tree resources in order to promote the active involvement of local farmers, collectives and village leaders.
  • Two partnership agreements signed for the management of the Samori and Segue forests, and action plans developed for each to restore degraded areas and create firebreaks.

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FACTS AND FIGURES

  • 141 000 trees planted
  • 700 000 trees protected
  • 30 people trained in water and soil conservation techniques
  • 35 ha of degraded land restored
  • 16 agreements signed with local communities regarding the management of tree resources

TESTIMONY

"Very quickly, I saw the benefits." - Ousmane Guindo, an agricultural worker in the village of Sokoura in Mali's central Mopti region

In the past, I would cut down and burn trees in order to clear parcels of land to grow millet. But I saw that this didn't help at all as now there was nothing to stop the wind. My crops got buried in sand and yields were very poor. So I started using the Assisted Natural Regeneration technique.

I left tree stumps intact and started to nurture the new shoots that grew up around them. Very quickly, I saw the benefits: the leaves that fall from the trees decompose and act as fertiliser for my crops; selective pruning ensures a regular supply of wood fuel for cooking; my millet yields are better as the trees prevent the wind burying the seedlings; and the trees provide welcome shade during our rest breaks when working in the fields.

If we had counted all the trees in Sokoura 10 years ago, there would have been fewer than I have just in my fields alone today. These efforts really are bearing fruit.