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Forest gardens and community forests in Chad

Submitted by Nitya Jacob 14th November 2022 9:52
Trees are a-planting

A nursery in Chad


Agroforestry can improve livelihoods and mitigate climate change and environmental degradation in the context of climate-smart agriculture. But its potential remains under-used in part because of adverse policies and legislations. Three countries in Sahel, Chad, Mali and Senegal, are planting 12 million trees as part of the Great Green Wall. Of this, 1 million are being planted in Chad.

Agroforestry helps to mitigate the impacts of climate change by sequestering carbon, in biomass and soil and also by improving soil health; reducing greenhouse gas emissions and; avoiding emissions through reduced fossil fuel energy usage on farms. Agroforestry can help increase adaptation capacity through increased yields, reduced risks, improved pollinator and wildlife habitats. It can take the form of living fences, home gardens, woodlots and multi-strata agroforestry. It includes trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes, farming in forests and at forests margins and, farmer managed natural regeneration. In the Sahelian countries, agroforestry fits well with the existing typical savannah park lands landscape.[1]

Agroforestry, with emphasis on farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR), conservation agriculture, and improved water and land management techniques, have been proven to be successful to solving similar problems in other Sahelian countries with analogous characteristics. In Niger for example, FMNR contributes to improved household income, increased crop diversity and density and is promoted as an inexpensive means to enhance rural livelihoods and an attractive alternative to reforestation efforts that rely on tree-planting. Landlocked in the Sahel, Chad is also experiencing the dramatic effects of climate change, with reports listing it as the most vulnerable country to climate change on the planet[2] in recent years

While Chad has no specific agroforestry policy its policies on poverty reduction, national rural investment plan, and national environmental policy provide some opportunities. In 1997, the directorate of livestock developed a manual for agroforestry.. 

Research has indicated that there is a positive attitude towards agroforestry in Chad among stakeholders, but its practice is handicapped by poor understanding of the forestry law by farmers and forestry officials. We propose that the government of Chad should unmask elements of agroforestry in existing policies and policy instruments to demonstrate its importance in responding to livelihood and environmental challenges in the country.

As part of a larger agro-forestry initiative, Trees for the Future (TREES) is planting 13 million trees in the Great Green Wall in 2021 of which a million are being planted in Forest Gardens and community forests in Chad. In partnership with Futures Agribusiness (FAGRIB) and funded by the Arbor Day Foundation, TREES has been working in Chad since the beginning of 2021.

Forest Gardens

TREES calls its sustainable farming technique the Forest Garden Approach. This increases food and income security while repairing degraded landscapes. It trains farmers in the technique. It is hoped that, in addition to mitigating climate change, the project will improve nutrition rates in Chad, that has some of the highest hunger rates in the world.

TREES Director of Programs Brandy Lellou said that in Chad people were grappling with depleting natural resources due to drought, unpredictable rainfall and extreme heat[3]. In addition to food and income insecurity, this has also led to increased conflict between farmers and herders as land and resources has become scarce. “But planting trees can mitigate many of these challenges. Chadian farmers and herders can benefit immensely from the Forest Garden Approach.”

The Forest Garden Approach is a regenerative agroforestry technique that benefits both the land and the farmer. Farmers plant a diverse mix of trees throughout their land to restore soil health, improve groundwater retention, and create a cooler micro-climate. When TREES began working in Chad, local herders began showing interest in the concept of the living fence and what it could mean for their ability to manage their land and livestock alongside farmers.

Given this response, Lellou says TREES will continue to explore this opportunity through 2022 and beyond. TREES and FAGRIB trained over 800 farmers, local staff and developed nurseries. To ensure the trees survived the harsh climate, technicians tended to the saplings in centrally-located March 2021, the seedlings began to sprout. The species included Acacia Senegal, Acacia nilotica, Parkinsonia, Azadirachta indica, Leucaena, Prosopis, papaya, and mango. They were ready to plant by August. In total, a million of them were planted in Forest Gardens and community forests.

[1] Foundjem-Tita, Divine, Ann Degrande, and Cyrille Bergaly Kamdem. 2021. "National and International Policies and Policy Instruments in the Development of Agroforestry in Chad" Sustainability 13, no. 16: 9200.

[2] Climate Change Vulnerability Index, 2016. Verisk_Maplecroft