COP21 ambitious reforestation goal achievable with FMNR

February 22, 2016

By Susan Karimi –  World Vision Rwanda

Recently at the COP21 conference in Paris, it was proposed that by the year 2030, 350 million hectares of devastated forest areas should be reforested.  This could seem like a far-fetched thought, but it is quite achievable when government and implementing organisations are willing to work towards this common goal. I recently visited Tigray in northern Ethiopia and in 2012 I visited Humbo in southern Ethiopia. I saw the transformation that has taken place since World Vision started working together with the government and the community members on water conservation and soil fertility interventions, including World Vision’s flagship intervention of Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). In a span of very few years, 600 hectares of degraded land have been restored in Humbo alone and 680 hand dug wells have been built after the ground water levels have started rising. This has enabled several households to do all  year round crop farming in a land that previously had to be supported by food relief efforts. In Tigray, a landscape that was once so sandy and degraded that the government contemplated relocating local communities, is now regenerated and able to support life.

The beauty of FMNR as a land restoration technique is that is cheap, based on community local knowledge and promotes the regeneration of indigenous vegetation. Unlike most land restoration measures, FMNR allows for quick results and benefits such as raised water table, readily available firewood (women no longer have to walk long distances in search of firewood), readily available fodder, improved livestock health and the return of wild animals and birds. This is besides the improved soil fertility that enables farmers to use less fertiliser for their crop production and to sell the surplus of food production to increase household income. It is such a joy for the older generations to see long gone trees from the past coming back in their time after years logging and burning. It is possible to restore forests and trees for the future generations. It all starts with the will to do so.