• Home
  • News
  • A challenge: The forests of Mali are more fragile than ever

A challenge: The forests of Mali are more fragile than ever

17 May 2018

  • By
  • Webmaster MFC
  • 2018

A challenge: The forests of Mali are more fragile than ever

Mali Folkecenter’s forest project in the Sikasso region aims at fighting climate change and at generating livelihood

Mali Folkecenter (MFC) firmly believes that it is possible to solve the dire environmental problems not only in the Sikasso region but in all of Mali.

MFC President Ibrahim Togola

The President of MFC Ibrahim Togola says: “With a concerted effort and the right backing it is possible to make Mali green. We in Mali Folkecenter and other environmental stakeholders in the country have the will and know that the local communities agree with us about the seriousness of the problems”

It is on this backdrop that MFC run a forest project in the Sikasso region. The idea behind the intervention is many-fold: to rescue the endangered forests, to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change and to strengthen livelihoods for local communities.

The practical aspects of the project are tree-planting and introduction of new ways of farming and of safeguarding the land and the forests and at the same time to generate income.

The project focuses on 39 villages in 8 communes in the Bougouni-Yanfolila Forest Complex that covers an area of 200,000 hectares or about 2,000 square kilometers.

In a country the size of Mali with its 1.24 million square kilometers this may seem like a tiny fraction, but the forests of Sikasso are extremely important. They make up almost 90 % of the total tree cover in Mali.

According to Global Forest Watch the region has recently experienced a slight gain in tree cover, but the Forest Watch estimates that Mali over two decades has lost more than 10 % of its forest due to greenhouse gas emissions.

The project called the Arbre-SEL (Trees as Support for Local Economy) is supported by the Norwegian government up until December 2018 and all the methods applied are in accordance with the Paris Agreement of 2015 that stipulates two main roads to counter climate change:  adaptation and mitigation.

Tree-planting and new farming methods are two such mitigating activities that are in play in Arbre-SEL.

The forest project aligns with Mali Folkecenter’s overall strategy (in French) which focuses on reducing the effects of climate change on communities.

At the same time, the strategy suggests a so-called PPP-model, meaning “p”artnership between “p”ublic and “p”rivate actors in the region. The aim is congruent with the Malian government’s policy of decentralization.

Arbre-SEL is based on learnt lessons from earlier similar projects, like one undertaken by USAid, that also realized the importance of safeguarding the environment in the Sikasso region that is often referred to as “the bread basket of Mali”.

The region is normally characterized by relatively milder climate than the rest of Mali, but for the last three decades the region has witnessed alarming decreases in rainfall and recurrent long periods of draught.

When it rains it is often so violent that large tracts of land are flooded leading to destruction of farm land.

On top of these dire problems Sikasso experiences an increasing problem with lack of wood.

Like for the rest of Mali wood in Sikasso is the main energy source for the population, that uses it as fuel for cooking.

Increasing population has led to excessive cutting down of trees resulting in soil erosion that again worsens the environmental problems in a region that suffers from all the deficiencies that haunt the rest of Mali: dilapidated infrastructure and schools, lack of access to medical care.

See the report on the recent visit to the Arbre-SEL by Ole Andreas Lindeman, Ambassador of Norway, who is the main backer of the project, here

Mayor of Garalo, Mr. Youssouf Kanté and Norwegian Ambassador Lindeman