An Overview Of Our Solution
- Population Impacted:
- Continent: Africa
Local resources the community depends on, and for what purpose
Local threats to resources
Level of sensitivity
Level of adaptive capacity
The Management Committee, composed of community members, is responsible for ensuring that regulations are complied with. This commit The main activity of this initiative involved the establishment and ongoing maintenance of the community forest surrounding Ando Kpomey. Since 1973, each year the community members have undertaken an annual clearance of the fire break surrounding the town and the planting of an additional 10 metre strip of trees to expand the forest that serves as a green belt around the town. The community forest now covers 104 ha and is a source of pride for the community. It is no longer being expanded but instead, attention is now focussed on maintaining and monitoring it to ensure it is not deforested or degraded. Village nurseries have been established to cultivate saplings for planting in the forest, and with the support of partner organizations, a simple management plan has been drawn up in consultation with community members. Under a programme supported by the Department of Environment and Forest Resources and the UNDP-implemented GEF Small Grants Programme, formal rules of community forest management have been developed and adopted and community members have been trained in simple sustainable forest management methods. To date, 20 young people from Ando Kpomey have been trained in activities such as construction of fire breaks, fire fighting to counter bush fires, and construction of transects. tee is also responsible for regulating and authorising the felling of trees within the community forest. When a community member needs timber for a construction project, they submit a request to the Management Committee, which then authorises the type and quality of wood that may be cut down as well as its location in the forest. In this way, the forest is protected from overharvesting yet still meets the needs of the community. Women are also allowed to enter the forest to gather fallen branches for firewood. The rules governing the forest are strictly enforced. It is even reported that the Chief of Ando Kpomey cut wood from the rules.forest without permission in order to test the Management Committee and was sanctioned in accordance with the To involve neighbouring communities in the protection of their forest, the Ando Kpomey community undertakes a number of activities to educate their neighbours on the importance of protecting the forest. They regularly host traditional hunts in the forest and invite participants from neighbouring communities to take part. Sharing the benefits of the forest with neighbouring communities in this way helps to discourage them from degrading of setting fire to the forest. A more recent development has been the establishment of alternative livelihood activities in Ando kpomey.
Economic Indicators used to measure benefit
The community forest has also improved the availability of natural resources for the community’s use. Harvesting from the forest is limited in order to ensure its sustainability, but community members no longer have difficulty obtaining wood for construction and women are allowed to gather firewood from the forest, reducing the distance they have to walk to collect fuel for their households. The forest also contains edible mushrooms, animals that are hunted during organised traditional hunts and medicinal plants that serve to fulfil some of the community’s healthcare needs. They are used to treat certain illnesses, which is helpful as the nearest health clinic is eight kilometres away. Community health has also benefitted from the improved air quality that the tree cover has brought.
Community/Social Indicators used to measure benefit
Visiting fees to enter the forest are directed towards the town’s development. Most of this revenue is used to fund Ando Kpomey’s school. Exchange visits involving the community forest have contributed to the community’s growing appreciation of the importance of educating their children. A result of this has been the creation of an ‘EDIL’ local school initiative that has just been recognised by the Togolese government and was been allocated teachers for the start of the 2010-2011 school year.
The primary socioeconomic impact of the community has been its fulfilment of its original purpose which was to prevent bush fires from affecting the village. The fire break and surrounding green belt have successfully kept fires at bay, and no bush fires have occurred in the town since 1973 when the initiative began. The forest cover also shelters the village from the harsh winds it previously experienced. The community has noted that because the forest is community owned and actively monitored and maintained in a way that the bush that preceded it never was, it provides a clear marker of Ando Kpomey’s land, thus protecting the village community from land grabbing
Ecological Indicators used to measure benefit
The forest helps to maintain local biodiversity by conserving certain types of woody vegetation that are increasingly threatened.
What were/are the challenges your community faced in implementing this solution?
Ando Kpomey, however, is bucking this trend. Its community forest has expanded every year since it was established, and now covers 104 ha. Towards the end of the rainy season, once family heads and community elders had agreed upon the plan, community members began to clear a fire break, leaving a 14-metre strip of bush around the town. Outside of the fire break, they planted a strip of trees. Every subsequent year, when the community cleared the fire break, they planted an additional 10-metre strip of trees to expand the green belt. For several consecutive years, the operation was repeated, and little by little, the green belt grew to become the community forest that now surrounds the town to a depth of between 350 and 850 metres. The forest is now a great source of pride for Ando Kpomey’s residents. For 18 years, the community maintained and expanded the forest with no outside help, clearing the fire break and adding a strip of trees to the green belt each year.
Describe the community-based process used to develop the solution including tools and processes used
Ando Kpomey is a small town in the Maritime Region of south western Togo, located about 70 kilometres northwest of the capital, Lomé. Since 1973, the 1,000-strong community of Ando Kpomey has maintained and expanded a community forest surrounding their village which now covers over 100 hectares. The town of Ando Kpomey used to be surrounded by dry shrub savannah and was constantly threatened by bush fires that devastated housing, crops and food stores. Twice, the entire town was destroyed by fire. In 1973, a particularly bad fire ravaged the town, devastating the community. In the aftermath of the fire, a town elder with the support of several other community members proposed establishing a green belt around the town by planting trees. This green belt would protect the town from bush fires as well as safeguarding plant resources and harbouring biodiversity. The incentive of protection from fires was enough to secure the support of the community who were recovering from the destruction of the most recent fire. Togo’s total forested area is estimated at around 287,000 hectares and its annual deforestation rate, currently 5.75 per cent, is high and rising. Decades of socio-political crisis and poor governance have resulted in severe degradation of protected areas, and between 2005 and 2010, Togo lost an average of 20,000 ha of forest cover each year (FAO, 2010). Bush fires, deforestation for firewood and charcoal, and hunting have resulted in the widespread disappearance of tree cover near towns and villages, and the consequent land degradation and loss of expose the village to extreme heat, flooding and interruption of rain patterns. Ando Kpomey, however, is bucking this trend. Its community forest has expanded every year since it was established, and now covers 104 ha. Towards the end of the rainy season, once family heads and community elders had agreed upon the plan, community members began to clear a fire break, leaving a 14-metre strip of bush around the town. Outside of the fire break, they planted a strip of trees. Every subsequent year, when the community cleared the fire break, they planted an additional 10-metre strip of trees to expand the green belt. For several consecutive years, the operation was repeated, and little by little, the green belt grew to become the community forest that now surrounds the town to a depth of between 350 and 850 metres. The forest is now a great source of pride for Ando Kpomey’s residents. For 18 years, the community maintained and expanded the forest with no outside help, clearing the fire break and adding a strip of trees to the green belt each year. In 1991, the initiative came to attention of Togolese NGO Association Togolaise pour la Promotion Humaine(ATPH) and in 1992, ATPH began providing support to the community’s project. In 2000, the forest came to the attention of yet another NGO –Inades-Formation Togo which also became involved, providing support and advice to the community. In 2003, with the assistance of these partner organizations, formal regulations were established for the management of the community forest. The management of the community forest is still undertaken entirely by the community, although ATPH provided technical support for the establishment of a Watchdog Committee and a Management Committee by the community. Management is participative and the regulations are generally very well respected by local residents. As other towns that have almost entirely cleared their local forests have suffered droughts and irregular rains as a result, the Ando Kpomey community’s resolve has been strengthened and they have decided to increase the involvement of neighbouring towns in the protection of their forest. The community forest is visited by many people who want to learn about the community’s achievement. A visiting tax collected from each visitor constitutes a valuable source of revenue for the town and is used primarily to fund Ando Kpomey’s school. The Management Committee gives the wider community regular reports on the use of this revenue.
Climate hazard of concern
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the ecosystem affected?
The town of Ando Kpomey used to be surrounded by dry shrub savannah and was constantly threatened by bush fires that devastated housing, crops and food stores. Twice, the entire town was destroyed by fire. In 1973, a particularly bad fire ravaged the town, devastating the community. In the aftermath of the fire, a town elder with the support of several other community members proposed establishing a green belt around the town by planting trees. This green belt would protect the town from bush fires as well as safeguarding plant resources and harbouring biodiversity. The incentive of protection from fires was enough to secure the support of the community who were recovering from the destruction of the most recent fire.
How has your solution increased the capacity of the ecosystem to adapt to potential climate changes?
As well as harbouring biodiversity, the community forest contributes to improved air quality around the town and regulates water cycles. While other towns that have cleared forest cover experience irregular local rainfall patterns, Ando Kpomey does not suffer this problem as the trees create a microclimate that favours regular rain and is beneficial for agriculture.
How does your solution reduce the exposure of and buffer/protect the communities affected?
Since 1973, the community forest has expanded each year and now covers 104 ha, surrounding the town at a depth ranging from 350 to 850 metres. Resource extraction from the forest is regulated by the Management Committee which has to approve any requests to fell trees for construction, and monitored by a forest surveillance committee that operated year round but particularly during the dry season. While bush fires, and deforestation for firewood and charcoal, have resulted in the clearance of tree cover in neighbouring towns, the community of Ando Kpomey continues to conserve its community forest and maintain it in a sustainable, participative way. The forest helps to maintain local biodiversity by conserving certain types of woody vegetation that are increasingly threatened. It is home to several different tree species as well as vines, medicinal plants, edible mushrooms, and animals including birds, rodents and deer that are rare in the surrounding area. The alternative livelihoods projects that are being implemented provide alternative, sustainable sources of income to community members who might otherwise depend on harvested forest resources for their livelihoods.
How does your solution reduce the sensitivity of the communities affected?
The success of Ando Kpomey’s community forest lies in part with the participative approach that involves all sectors of the community and positions the local community as the main decision maker in the forest’s management. The success of this strategy has influenced the government’s approach to forest management somewhat, with texts regulating forest management being revised to be less authoritarian and more openly embrace participative forest management approaches. For examples, the Ministry of the Environment and Forest Resources recently adopted a more participative approach to sustainable forest management, involving local town associations with the management of protected areas. The Ando Kpomey forest served as an example of what local communities can achieve, and the initiative was selected as a community forest pilot site for the national forest programme funded by UN FAO. The Ando Kpomey community continue to share the example of their forest with local and national policy makers through workshops and events. For example, a workshop held in the neighbouring village of Akpuive in 2011 to raise awareness of the Ando Kpomey community forest was attended by the Ave Prefectural Director of the Environment, two representatives of the ATPH Keve NGO and ANCE-Togo’s project coordinator.
How has your solution increased the capacity of local communities to adapt to potential climate changes?
Nevertheless, the Ando Kpomey forest remains very much a community project. All sectors of the community, including men, women and youth, are represented in each of the committees that oversee the forest and it is managed in such a way that all community members feel involved. The forest remains communally owned and management rules are well respected. This is probably the greatest evidence of the forest’s sustainability. The community recognises the benefits the forest brings them (there have been no bush fires in the town since 1973) and so they are happy to continue to invest their time and energy in maintaining
Can this solution be replicated elsewhere?
Neighbouring villages are also invited on educational visits to the forest, and have hosted awareness raising workshops to promote the idea. Ando Kpomey has hosted exchange visits with other communities and farming organisations, in collaboration with ATPH. Groups have visited from within the Prefecture as well as from other regions in Togo. Visitors have included researchers from the University of Lomé, government agencies and NGOs. Other communities in the Prefecture have now replicated the project, initiating community forests of their own. These are the communities ofNyaméssiva, Kpenyuie, Zikpé, SetekpéKlégbékopé and Akpuive