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Adoption of farmer managed natural regeneration in Senegal. Included in Restoring African Drylands


Valuable lessons can be learned from smallholder farmers who have successfully protected and regenerated tree cover across agricultural landscapes in Senegal, with minimal reliance on tree nurseries, seedling distribution or tree planting. In the process, they have restored soil fertility to sustainably increase agricultural production.

Analysing how and where this approach has occurred underscores the importance and feasibility of achieving restoration in ways that contribute to improved livelihoods, reduce vulnerability to climate change and other shocks, and restore ecosystem services. This article highlights a relatively low-cost intervention implemented by rural communities with support from development organizations and that could be widely replicated.

Based on experiences in Senegal and elsewhere across the Sahel, successful restoration can be initiated and sustained by smallholder farmers and local communities. Mobilizing support for cross-visits and farmer-to-farmer exchanges has been especially important in motivating behavioural changes.

Support for peer-to-peer training about FMNR and other improved natural resource management practices have also been crucial in enabling smallholders to overcome the biophysical constraints of dryland agriculture, including weathered and leached soils, loss of soil organic matter, highly variable rainfall, and high rates of runoff. Additional capacity building and training in institutional development and enterprise management, and support for decentralized land-use planning, participatory forest management and tenure policy modifications have also been important.

The path to success includes taking steps to strengthen local governance and diversify local economies. The full participation of key stakeholders in community-based land-use planning is essential, together with the devolution of authority to local communities to enable the formulation and local enforcement of rules governing access to and use of natural resources. For restoration to be fully successful requires that stakeholders work together to market the products of protected and managed trees across agricultural landscapes, while providing for equitable benefit distribution (Dororetz et al. 2014). Institutional and regulatory reforms are also needed to establish more favourable enabling
conditions, and to provide programme support that addresses factors related to community organization, governance and other aspects highlighted in this example of successful restoration. Using such experiences can clearly inform the required changes, shorten the process, and lead to more effective reforms (Reij and Winterbottom 2015).

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