Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and success

This collection of 12 stories from women and men in nine countries in different parts of Africa shines a light on the efforts of communities, some of them decades-long, in restoring degraded forests and landscapes. The stories are not generated through any rigorous scientific process, but are nonetheless illustrative of the opportunities communities create as they solve their own problems, and of the many entry points we have for supporting and accelerating community effort. The stories show that leadership, social capital and cooperation, clear property rights/tenure, and supportive governance are important for successful community-based restoration. From the perspectives of communities, “success” is not only about the number of trees planted and standing over a certain terrain: it is also about the ability to secure and enhance livelihoods; to strengthen existing community relationships and to build new ones with other actors; to develop a conservation ethic among younger generations; and, in some cases, to expand the rights of excluded individuals and groups. This collection is about amplifying the voices of local people in global policy debates…. “Listen!”


Foreword. Communities restoring landscapes: Stories of resilience and succes

Story 1. Holding back the desert: One farmer’s story of restoring degraded land in the Sahel region in Burkina Faso

Story 2. Women gaining ground through reforestation on the Cameroonian coast

Story 3. Building resilience to climate change through community forest restoration in Ghana

Story 4. Thinking in tomorrow: Women leading forest restoration in Mt Kenya and beyond

Story 5. Mikoko Pamoja: Carbon credits and community-based reforestation in Kenya’s mangroves

Story 6. Rights, responsibilities and collaboration: The Ogiek and tree growing in the Mau

Story 7. Restoring Madagascar’s mangroves: Community-led conservation makes for multiple benefits

Story 8. Flood recovery, livelihood protection and mangrove reforestation in the Limpopo River Estuary, Mozambique

Story 9. Regaining their lost paradise: Communities rehabilitating mangrove forests in the drought-affected Saloum Delta, Senegal

Story 10. From the grass roots to the corridors of power: Scaling up efforts for conservation and reforestation in Senegal

Story 11. Taming the rising tide: Keeping the ocean at bay through community reforestation on Kisiwa Panza island, Tanzania

Story 12. Shaking the tree: Challenging gender, tenure and leadership norms through collaborative reforestation in Central Uganda

Joint infobrief set on gender equality and forest landscape restoration

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) aims to achieve ecological integrity and enhance human well-being in deforested or degraded landscapes. Evidence shows that addressing gender equality and women’s rights is critical for addressing this dual objective. Against this backdrop, CIFOR and a number of partners hosted a Global Landscapes Forum workshop on FLR and gender equality in Nairobi, Kenya in November 2017. The objective of the workshop was to identify and discuss experiences, opportunities and challenges to advancing gender-responsive FLR in East African countries, as well as to join together various stakeholders working at the interface of gender and FLR as a community of practice. This brief set is a tangible outcome of this collaboration, featuring a number of useful lessons and recommendations rooted in the experience and expertise of partners in civil society, multilateral organizations, research community and private sector – all working in different ways to enhance the gender-responsiveness of restoration efforts.

Infobrief series:

Building farmer organisations’ capacity to collectively adopt agroforestry and sustainable agriculture land management practices in Lake Victoria Basin

Between 2012 and 2017, Vi Agroforestry and partners supported the development and implementation of the Lake Victoria Farmers’ Organisation Agroforestry (FOA) program. Under this program, and in cooperation with 40 member-based farmer organizations spread across Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, approximately two million female and male farmers, school children and young people were mobilized to implement agroforestry and sustainable agriculture land management (SALM) practices in different agroecosystems of Lake Victoria catchment areas. The brief shares key lessons learnt from the FOA program on how to address concerns of both women and men when restoring land, while improving food security and offering alternative income streams.

Understanding landscape restoration options in Kenya: Risks and opportunities for advancing gender equality

Given their different roles, responsibilities, access to and control of resources, the costs and benefits of land restoration are likely to differ for men and women. Yet, many restoration projects fail to consider gender dimensions when designing their interventions. Efforts to restore agricultural lands are often knowledge- and labor-intensive, and risk increasing women’s already heavy workloads.

In its project on ‘Restoration of degraded land for food security and poverty reduction in East Africa and the Sahel the World Agroforestry Centre tests promising restoration options across a range of contexts. Using methods adapted from the INGENAES toolkit ‘Assessing how agricultural technologies can change gender dynamics and food security outcomes’ this brief explores the risks and opportunities that planting basins and tree planting present for advancing gender equality in this effort. It focuses on how men and women control and benefit from the interventions, and the differentiated impacts on their time and labor.

What women and men want: Considering gender for successful, sustainable land management programs: Lessons learned from the Nairobi Water Fund

This brief introduces a case study that explores the different barriers that men and women face when implementing sustainable land management (SLM) under the Nairobi Water Fund (NWF) in Kenya. The NWF is a public-private partnership, designed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a payment for ecosystem services (PES) scheme, under which farmers in the Upper Tana River basin receive in-kind payments for implementing sustainable land management practices.

Enhancing Women’s Participation in Forestry Management Using Adaptive Collaborative Management: The Case of Mbazzi Farmers Association, Mpigi District Uganda

Women, who are among the poorest of the poor, and who depend on forest resources for subsistence and income, continue to be marginalised in policy- and decision-making, and in the distribution of tree or forest resources benefits. Forests and the sale of forest products are largely owned and controlled by men; women’s needs and concerns are neglected, as they have little power in determining development activities. Uganda has ratified several global conventions that promote gender equality. However, although there is progress in gender mainstreaming, implementation has been low at all levels while, in practice, customary norms still prevail and these largely confer access to forest and tree resources on women, while ownership is reserved for men. Against this light, the brief discusses a Gender, Tenure and Community Forestry project in Mpigi, Butambala, Masaka and Rakai districts, in the central region of Uganda which seeks to improve women’s tenure rights to forests by increasing their participation in community forest user groups.

Gender-responsive Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM): Engendering national forest landscape restoration assessments

The forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach is a forward-looking and dynamic approach that strengthens landscape resilience while creating opportunities to optimise ecosystem goods and services to meet livelihood needs. The equitable and active involvement of all stakeholders in FLR decision making, goal setting and implementation is fundamental. To guide assessment teams through FLR planning, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) developed the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM) that assists countries in identifying opportunities and priority areas for restoration and in designing and implementing FLR interventions. Drawing on the example of Malawi and beyond, the brief introduces the developing process for a gender-responsive National Landscape Restoration Assessment (NLRS) and gives recommendations on how women can be empowered in the design and implementation of FLR processes.

Mobilizing indigenous and local knowledge for successful restoration

Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) aims to recover ecological integrity and enhance the wellbeing of people living in deforested and degraded landscapes. Within global and national restoration agendas, modern science is viewed by influential actors as the foundation for addressing some of the world’s most pressing ecological challenges. Yet, integrated approaches that bridge the social, economic, and ecological dimensions of restoration and give voice to diverse stakeholders are compromised by technocratic solutions and a lack of attention on different ways of knowing and valuing the world. The brief elaborates why and how when informing FLR decisions and processes, conventional science must be coupled with other types and sources of knowledge, including the knowledge of local women and men who manage and inhabit the landscapes to be restored.

The impacts of gender-conscious payment models on the status of women engaged in micro-forestry on the Kenyan coast

Across Africa, and in Kenya specifically, women comprise the majority of the labor force contributing to agroforestry (Kiptot 2012). Despite their greater involvement, women often do not realize the same benefits as men. Their wages are lower, their working conditions worse, and their involvement in decision making extremely limited.

Komaza is a social enterprise that partners with over 14,000 rural farmers along Kenya’s Coast in an innovative ‘outgrower’ model to plant micro-woodlots that are managed collectively in order to produce sustainable timber products. Farmers contribute land and labor and are paid for harvested trees. When providing training, planting inputs, maintenance support, harvesting services, and a guaranteed market into wood processing and sales operations close attention is paid to the underlying gender dynamics of land ownership and labor. Komaza seeks to recognize the labor undertaken by women through an innovative farmer compensation model and payment system, which are the focus of this brief.

Role of capital in enhancing participation of women in commercial forestry: A case study of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) project in Uganda

In light of an increased demand for wood products throughout Africa, forest plantations are increasingly becoming important sources of wood to supplement the diminishing supply from natural forests. The participation of women participate in commercial forestry is essential, be it through tree planting for fuelwood, poles and timber production. In addition to employment on forest plantations, women also engage in forest related income-generating enterprises such as tree nurseries. Their contribution to forestry and agroforestry value chains are important for improving their livelihoods and wellbeing through improved incomes and food security for their households. However, Establishing commercial forest plantations requires substantial capital investment. In this context the brief introduces the Ugandan Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) which provides financial grants to commercial tree farmers and demonstrates the role of capital in enhancing more equitable participation of women in commercial forestry.