The Desa’a forest reserve is home to many threatened species, and plays an important role in climate adaptation and water supply in a region directly threatened by desertification from the north and east. Currently, 74% of the forest has disappeared and the remaining 26% is severely degraded. The immediate consequence is erosion of topsoil and the significant reduction of agricultural yields for smallholder farmers. Even more alarming is the possible long-term impact on local cloud formation and rainfall, causing more frequent droughts and food insecurity.
WeForest has been working since 2016 to directly restore and protect over 40,000 ha of the forest through Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) and Enrichment Planting. We select species that serve multiple purposes to the forest and the communities, generating a combination of social, economic and environmental benefits. Examples are olive (Olea europaea), juniper (Juniperus procera) and briar root (Erica arborea), which are combined with different grass species for fodder and to reduce erosion. Furthermore, soil and water conservation structures are built to reduce run-offs and improve soil infiltration.
By combining forest restoration with livelihood improvement programmes, we focus on improving natural resource governance and the socio-economic resilience of communities living in and around the forest, with a special focus on women, the landless, subsistence farmers and youth. Examples of activities are beekeeping, poultry, sheep, high-value trees and vegetable seeds, efficient cookstoves, solar lights and the employment of forest guards, as well as the establishment and strengthening of rural schools’ environmental clubs.