The tree nursery at Koumbougourou
Agroforestry: Improving agricultural production
and crop yields
Our work is one of the most marginal
farming areas of Mali. Crop production is becoming increasingly
difficult as soils have become more impoverished, resources
have been over-exploited, and as rainfall has become less
reliable with climate change. We are working to reverse
these problems through careful natural resource management
schemes, and through regeneration of trees that are valuable
to daily life in crop fields. Acacia albida trees drop
their leaves before the rainy season to form compost.
This increases humus and water retention in the thin,
sandy soils, and allows crops to better-withstand gaps
in rainfall and periods of drought. The trees have nitrogen-fixing
roots, their branches slow the desiccating winds, their
leaves come out to provide shade to reduce evaporation
in the dry season, and their fruits provide food for cattle.
In the last year 1167
local volunteers in 53 villages have grown and protected
nearly 200,000 new trees in 62 villages. 70% of the trees
are Acacia albida for the purpose of improving crop production;
30% are species that people have chosen to plant and protect
for other purposes.
Weaving tree guards
Community Planning for Natural Resource
We are supporting community workshops
for 3 districts which are severely affected by desertification
and where life is fast becoming unviable. This helps communities
in each village to plan how the limited natural resources
left in each district can be shared, and ways of regenerating
the resources that are essential to sustain their livelihoods.
Much of the tree cover
has been lost
rural Mali, people are dependent on forestry resources
for their survival. People need wood for cooking, for
making agricultural tools, knife-handles, the pestles
and mortars for processing grain, and for building their
homes and animal shelters. Tree leaves and fruits are
an essential daily food resource. The main food crop is
millet served with Baobab leaf sauce. Leaves can be dried
and made into a sauce all year round. Other trees provide
oil from their nuts, protein-rich flowers, seeds and flavourings
to accompany grain. Harvested leaves and fruits are the
main food resource for domestic animals. Roots, bark and
leaves are the only affordable medicines for 90% of people,
but many medicinal species have disappeared from overuse.
Trees and the tools or goods that they provide are vital
for survival. They are also one of the mainstays of rural
people’s market activities and income
Representatives from each
village attend a district workshop
The workshops involve all members
of society and local government, in finding a way of sharing
the few remaining resources, and the ways that these can
be regenerated. Set-aside schemes are mapped for regeneration
of pastureland; passage routes are agreed with nomads;
traditional Nature Protection Societies are being revived;
and local legislation is agreed to prevent conflict over
the scant remaining resources.
People can do many things
for themselves, but also need help with forestry management
training, in making fuel-efficient stoves, tools for compost-making
and for erosion control, and to regenerate pastureland.
The current situation
is alarming, but people are so motivated, that revival
of livelihoods is possible and achievable with relatively
modest amounts of financial support and training.
Community tree grove
This year 61,714 saplings have
been grown in 39 mini-nurseries, managed by 79 men and
51 women. The saplings have been used for dune stabilisation,
for community tree groves, utilitarian and shade trees,
hedgerow and windbreak-planting, and for income-generating
fruit trees for women. 136 grafted trees of better-fruiting
varieties of mango, zizyphus, tamarind and baobab have
part of a mini-nursery
Papaya tree bearing fruit 4
months after planting
A small ‘botanical garden’ has been started
by the children in one of the larger schools in the area
to help them learn about trees. It has 31 different varieties
of trees and a small nursery managed by the children to
help them to raise pocket money.
and Gully Stabilisation
Unprecedented heavy rain and flash floods in July have
done much environmental damage, created many new erosion
gullies, and washed sand from the dunes onto crop land.
Many cows were swept away, and over 1,600 families lost
their homes, granaries and all their belongings and investments.
However, the dunes which
have been planted remained stable, and phenomenal progress
was made with the dune work during this rainy season.
Women collected a remarkable
1,000 kgs of deep rooting grass seeds which have been
sewn in 11.6 hectares of dunes.
2,351 men collected c26,000
desert euphorbia shrub cuttings and planted these in the
16.3 hectares of dunes. They also planted 12.5 hectares
with dead hedgerow to act as windbreaks to this planting.
Euphorbia cuttings, which will grow into shrubs to stabilise
A tremendous effort has
also been made by men volunteers in contour wall building
to control rainwater run-off on the hard-baked earth,
which is dry for 9 months of the year. This greatly increases
the amount of topsoil and improves water penetration in