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 su
Because the forest creates a local microclimate that is favourable to rain, it has a positive impact on agricultural production and therefore on the community’s food security. In the 1970s when the decision was made to establish the forest, there was suff
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.
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.