SENEGAL: Curbing deforestation

A climate change adaptation and mitigation project


In Senegal, more than 80% of households use wood and charcoal as their main energy sources. Wood is mainly used in villages, while low-income urban households use charcoal. Better-off households use other energy sources such as gas.


Intensive logging, combined with frequent bushfires during the dry season, reduces the amount of wood and charcoal available to the population. The dry seasons, which are becoming increasingly intense as a result of climate change, no longer allow all tree varieties to survive or regenerate naturally. A crucial question arises: what can be done to reduce deforestation?


Wallonia, through the Walloon Air and Climate Agency (AWAC), has committed to funding climate change adaptation and mitigation projects. They supported a first project, called DEFICHARPA (Development of the Straw Coal Sector), which was set up by the Senegalese NGO Nebeday, from 2012 to 2016. With this same associate, ULB-Cooperation is now carrying out a project called Participatory Forest Management, also funded by AWAC, and which continues the work on straw charcoal and disseminates new techniques for sustainable energy production and consumption.

Three endangered forests

The project focuses on three forests, Djilor, Némabah and Sangako, totalling 3,660 ha. The economy of the 27 riverside villages is essentially based on activities linked to the exploitation of natural resources: agriculture, fishing, livestock production, fruit cultivation, beekeeping and logging. The residents of these villages derive wood products (firewood, timber, construction timber) and non-wood products (fruit, leaves, roots, bark, etc.) from the forest, which enables them to diversify their income and their consumption of plant proteins. Unfortunately, uncontrolled harvesting and the overexploitation of certain species threaten the conservation of these forests, which play an essential role in the preservation of biodiversity and in the resilience of the population.

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Nebeday, local partner of the project

Since its creation in 2011, by setting up major forest protection and reforestation campaigns, the Nebeday association has developed a particularly relevant expertise:


Developing the forests

The association’s agents, with the support of ULB-Cooperation, are helping to draw up development and management plans for the three forests, in collaboration with the local people, who have been made aware of the importance of sustainable forest management. The plans are drawn up based on a forest inventory designed to assess the specific potential of each forest, the density of the vegetation and its level of regeneration.

Threats and constraints are identified. A specific management plan has been put forward, to suit the environmental and socio-political contexts of each protected area. The association also educates and trains village committees in the rules surrounding management plans. It trains the eco-guards in the various aspects of their work: management, participatory planning, specific legislation, logging techniques, data collection, equipment, etc. It sets up reforestation actions and plants trees, using species such as moringa, cashew and mangrove. The organisation also sets up a monitoring and bushfire control system, and is responsible for putting up signs and marking out blocks and plots.

Sustainable use of forest resources

The economic aspect is not forgotten. Each forest has exploitable natural resources, which are potential sources of income. But how can sustainable development opportunities be created (which products should be      exploited, in what quantity, what added value should be provided)? The income that is generated must meet the population’s needs but also allow for forest maintenance work (maintenance of firebreaks, paying eco-guards, regeneration, etc.), and offer local communities the means to provide services to the population. The association assists local authorities in ensuring that management plans take these elements into account and determine a key for the distribution of surpluses. It also assists beneficiaries in monitoring their income and expenditures.


Developing alternatives to conventional charcoal

The consumption of wood for energy purposes is essential to the population but, when poorly managed, it contributes dramatically to deforestation. Research and development activities are being carried out to try to optimise the rate of conversion of wood into charcoal (high efficiency ovens), or to produce good quality straw charcoal at an affordable price. Work is also being done to reduce energy consumption. The potential of improved stoves in terms of solid bioenergy consumption is being investigated.