TOPACTIVITIESIPSI Collaborative ActivitiesRehabilitation and Sustainable Management of Sacred Forests on Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018 in Benin
Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management of Sacred Forests on Ramsar Sites 1017 and 1018 in Benin
Lead organization: NGO Circle for Conservation of Natural Resources (ONG CeSaReN)
Other participating organizations: International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO); General Directorate for Forests and Natural Resources (DGFRN), Benin; Beninese Environmental Agency (ABE), Benin
- Context and problem to address
RAMSAR Sites 1017 and 1018 contain more than 500 sacred forests which although limited in size are rich in biodiversity. These forests play a vital role in the lives of people and the conservation of local natural resources. Now with the emergence of new religions, high population growth, the weakness of traditional power, and the increasing impoverishment of the rural population, taboos and restrictions are no longer complied with. Most sacred forests are subject to abuse and uncontrolled exploitation leading to degradation or even total destruction. The recent studies on sacred groves in Southern Benin showed that 60% of them are in a degraded state. Between 1998 and 2013, 34% of sacred forests have experienced a significant reduction in area and 14% have disappeared. Degradation of these ecosystems is a serious threat to biodiversity and the lives of surrounding communities who heavily depend on it.
The NGO Club for the Conservation of Natural Resources (Ce.Sa.Re.N), aware and concerned about the situation, took the initiative in collaboration with the Forestry Administration, the Communal authorities and local communities to develop the Project “Rehabilitation and Sustainable Management of Sacred Forests on RAMSAR Sites 1017 And 1018 in Benin”. This project stems from the implementation of pre-project PPD 165/12 Rev.1 (F) which collected baseline information to develop this project.
- Implementation objectives and indicators
The development objective of the project is to contribute to sustainable forest management of wetlands in southern Benin. This objective indicators are (i) by 2020, the wetland ecosystem degradation process currently affecting wetlands of global importance in southern Benin is reduced by at least 30%, (ii) At the end of the project the living standards of communities closely dependent on forest resources have been raised by at least 20%, (iii) the volume of timber product has increased by 15% by 2038.
The specific objective of this project is to sustainably manage sacred forests within Ramsar sites 1017 and 1018 in Benin by building the capacity of stakeholders to improve the living conditions of local populations. Indicators are: (i) At the end of the project, 40 sacred forests feature operational management tools; (ii) at the end of the project, revenues derived from sacred forest have increased by 25%; (iii) 40 rehabilitated sacred forests are integrated in the System of Municipal Protected Areas.
The following main results are expected at the end of the project:
- Improved use of the resources of 40 sacred forests;
- The levels of income derived from sacred forests by local communities have be raised
- SFs are integrated in the System of Municipal Protected Areas
- Beneficiaries, results, outcomes and expected outputs:
The main beneficiaries of this project are: dignitaries, traditional chieftains, village elders, kings, earth priests and land chiefs, community leaders, voodoo priests, communities and local populations composed of men, women and children of the village who live on SF resources together with farmers using arable lands adjacent to SFs.
The main outcomes, outputs and results expected from this project are the following:
– Simplified management plans allocated to 40 sacred forests. This will enable dignitaries and owners to define the terms of their forest management and better control and monitor their management practices and interventions;
– Providing these 40 sacred forests with titles of legal recognition to avoid “breaking and nibbling at the estate” or selling portions of it;
– Crop cultivation techniques improved in the vicinity of sacred forests on a total area of 80 ha to increase farming outputs on these lands without encroachment on the land estates of sacred forests (SEPLs).
– The demarcation and staking of 40 sacred forests, to prevent any encroachment and reduce the pressure for land;
– The establishment of 60 ha of multi-purpose plantations to help meet the needs of local communities for forest products (SEPLs);
– The diversification of sources of income for the local communities through the development of alternative income generating activities, the promotion of Improved Agricultural Production Systems (SAP) and the development of community-level social infrastructure to raise the income level of the local population by at least 20%
– Capacity-building for at least 200 individual beneficiaries in local communities for forest planning/development and management techniques, and private plantations (SEPLs);
– The strong involvement of municipal authorities through the establishment and operation of municipal committees coordinating and monitoring the integration of SFs in the System of Municipal Protected Areas;
– Improving the biodiversity of 40 sacred forests by planting valuable plant species of value and undertaking the release of specimens of appropriate CITES faunal specimen.
The development of reforestation-related activities such as seed collection, high-quality seedling production, the promotion of fuelwood plantations to meet the demand for wood energy, which is the main source of domestic energy in rural areas. This may also help to raise the income levels of grassroots communities.
- Implementation strategy
This project will be implemented in three successive phases:
– Firstly, local management committees will be established both at the SF level and municipal level. These committees will facilitate the development, validation and implementation of management tools. They will also help to identify the beneficiaries of Improved Production Systems (SAP).
– The second phase will consist in organizing the grassroots to implement enrichment planting and rehabilitation of SFs; and develop alternative income-generating and environmentally friendly activities to reduce the level of poverty and improve the livelihoods of people at grassroots level (SEPLs).
– In the third phase, SFs will be incorporated in the System of Municipal Protected Areas to ensure their sustainability.
- Sustainability of project results
Institutional and political sustainability of this project will hinge on the involvement of the General Directorate of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Beninese Environment Agency and Municipalities at all stages of development and implementation. Furthermore, the various commitments made by the municipalities through the letters of endorsement attached hereto in Appendix bear witness to the ownership of the project by the municipal authorities and clearly herald the institutional sustainability of project outcomes.
The financial sustainability of project outcomes and achievements shall be secure beyond the duration of the project through the commitment of municipalities to fund the project.
Technically, the sustainability of outcomes and achievements is secured by the inclusion of traditional and modern methods of forest management as well as through the technical monitoring services to be provided by the National Forest Service which is represented in all municipalities in Benin.
- Assumption and risks
The main assumptions on which the successful implementation of the project is based are as follows:
The various stakeholders support and participate in the project: One of the difficulties in the implementation of forest development projects is the lack of communication among stakeholders. This project will particularly address this aspect by involving all stakeholders in the implementation process.
Sustainable management of wetland ecosystems remains a national priority. Policy guidelines may change and the support of decision makers for the conservation of sacred forests decline. In the international context where issues related to climate change are taken seriously by the international community, the risk is almost absent.
The probable risks identified in connection with this project are as follows:
Reluctance by dignitaries and managers of sacred forests in relation to interventions by not religiously initiated outsiders in these forests. This risk can be reduced by education and outreach sessions.
Climate hazards observed lately and climate change may affect ecosystems, the flow rate of water streams and forest health in the intervention area.This may negatively impact the development actions undertaken. This risk can be reduced by the use of appropriate adaptation to the adverse effects of the most immediate climate change and the use of resistant and resilient species.
- Budget contributions
Contribution in US$
Benin (Ce.Sa.Re.N NGO)
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IPSI Collaborative Activity Guidelines
IPSI Collaborative Activities are activities that are carried out by two or more IPSI member organizations and that contribute to IPSI’s strategic objectives. Participants may include contributing IPSI non-members also, but at least two must be IPSI members. Activities may include research, capacity-building, awareness-raising, on-the-ground or any other activities that contribute to IPSI’s strategic objectives.
IPSI’s strategic objectives, as identified in the IPSI Strategy, are:
- Increase knowledge and understanding of SEPLS
- Address the direct and underlying causes responsible for the decline or loss of biological and cultural diversity as well as ecological and socio-economic services from SEPLS
- Enhance benefits from SEPLS
- Enhance the human, institutional and sustainable financial capacities for the implementation of the Satoyama Initiative
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Proposal and endorsement procedure
Activities to be considered for recognition as IPSI Collaborative Activities should be proposed to the IPSI Secretariat using the “IPSI Collaborative Activity Proposal Form” included in this document (p. 1-2). Upon initial verification, the Secretariat will forward proposals to the IPSI Steering Committee for consideration.
Responsibilities and benefits
Participants in IPSI Collaborative Activities are encouraged to use IPSI’s name and the Satoyama Initiative logo in promotional and informational materials related to the activity, and to acknowledge IPSI’s support in all outputs.
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