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Developing forests to avoid desertification

09.10.2006
In semi-arid countries, desertification is often the result of the over-exploitation of resources. Standing timber is considered to be a freely available resource until it is converted into wood with added value.

Since 1987, CIRAD has been working with the Nigerian administration (in the form of several successive partnerships*), on development-oriented research projects concerning the development of natural forests and the supply of dendroenergy to towns.

Today, more than 600 000 hectares of developed forest are managed sustainably. Over 300 local rural market structures for dendroenergy and syndicates for dum leaf and gum Arabic have been created. The annual revenue generated locally by the commercial production from these markets alone is estimated at nearly 500 million CFA francs. On a technical level, sylvicultural guidelines for the main types of forest formation have now been defined and pastoral management has become an integral part of new development plans.

The supply of dendroenergy, which is vital for town populations, can be insured if forestry resources are managed sustainably. Moreover, the rural populations manage their woody resources, redistributing revenue to the local populations, villages and authorities. In fact, the authorities recognise the local communities as the legitimate interlocutors within a legislative framework which includes a fiscal incentive.

The system for sustainable management still needs to be extended in order to secure the long-term supply of dendroenergy. The administrative forestry control system is lacking and the decentralisation and devolution process should be completed. The institutional framework was modified with a new forestry law. This means that, today, the effective transfer of forestry management skills has been formalised to benefit the territorial bodies and local communities.

In the near future, the establishment of bodies devolved from the rural code (regional and communal forestry commissions), will mean that communities and authorities have access to a valuable tool for controlling and conserving sylvopastoral areas in the form of a land development scheme.

Helen Burford | alfa
Further information:
http://www.cirad.fr/en/actualite/communique.php?id=533

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