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Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration Enhances Rural Livelihoods in Dryland West Africa
Declining agricultural productivity, land clearance and climate change are compounding the vulnerability of already marginal rural populations in West Africa. 'Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration' (FMNR) is an approach to arable land restoration and reforestation that seeks to reconcile sustained food production, conservation of soils and protection of biodiversity. It involves selecting and protecting the most vigorous stems regrowing from live stumps of felled trees, pruning off all other stems, and pollarding the chosen stems to grow into straight trunks. Despite widespread enthusiasm and application of FMNR by environmental management and development projects, to date, no research has provided a measure of the aggregate livelihood impact of community adoption of FMNR. This paper places FMNR in the context of other agroforestry initiatives, then seeks to quantify the value of livelihood outcomes of FMNR. We review published and unpublished evidence about the impacts of FMNR, and present a new case study that addresses gaps in the evidence base. The case study focuses on a FMNR project in the district of Talensi in the semi-arid Upper East Region in Ghana. The case study employs a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis, which identifies proxy financial values for non-economic as well as economic benefits. The results demonstrate income and agricultural benefits, but also show that asset creation, increased consumption of wild resources, health improvements and psycho-social benefits created more value in FMNR-adopting households during the period of the study than increases in income and agricultural yields.
West Africa, agroforestry, Ghana, land restoration, semi-arid, social return on investment, SROI, FMNR, Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration
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