Fertile farmland thanks to natural regeneration

Farmers can do a lot themselves to restore tired farmland if they have the right knowledge. Thanks to training facilitated by IUCN NL, soil fertility in the Dogon Plateau in Mali has increased spectacularly.

Header photo: (c) Joseph Lumumba

Land degradation Dogon Plateau

Many parts of the Dogon Plateau in the heart of Mali have been greatly damaged by unsustainable farming methods and forest fires. The nutrient content of the arid soil is low and erosion has the upper hand in this bare landscape. As a result, the local population in many parts of the Dogon Plateau can barely harvest enough to survive on.

Accelerating natural growth

With the assistance of IUCN NL, the local development organization Développement au Sahel (HDS) offered training in so-called Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) techniques. ANR aims to accelerate the natural growth of trees, shrubs, herbs and other plants through, for example, weed control and effective pruning. A total of more than 2,400 local Dogon farmers were encouraged to use these techniques during routine farm maintenance.

Large increase in the number of trees on Dogon Plateau

Thanks to the farmers’ efforts and newly acquired skills, the average number of trees per hectare has risen from 7 to 70. In the total area, which comprises more than 14,000 hectares, the number of trees has increased by 100,000. The reforestation has many advantages for the local community, such as more firewood, natural materials for medicines, less erosion and better crops.

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Mark van der Wal
Senior Expert Ecosystems & Extractives