July 31, 2010 by
The Fouta Djallon highlands in the Republic of Guinea are the source of West Africa’s most important rivers: the Senegal, Gambia, Niger and Mano rivers.
These rivers provide drinking water, irrigation and hydroelectric power to millions of people in Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. They are critical for sustaining livelihood systems which are now affected by ecosystem degradation.
Policymakers across Fouta Djallon countries are interested in adopting reward schemes for environmental services. For instance, Sierra Leonean forestry authorities have highlighted the need to develop rewards-based initiatives as a strategy to better manage the country’s classified forests.
PRESA partners intend to build upon these regional initiatives to lay a social foundation for the design, piloting and scaling up of transfer schemes for environmental services.
In 2009, PRESA forged collaborative links with the Centre for Environmental studies (CÉRE) at the Conakry University. From this collaboration, a senior researcher was detailed to provide support to PRESA activities.
Using protocols developed in other sites, a scoping study was undertaken with CÉRE. It included taking an inventory of rewards for environmental service mechanisms. A description of existing technologies and land uses and identification of candidate land use options to be considered for greater promotion was integrated into the scoping study.
The study began with an engagement of public agencies through a workshop on environmental services which produced a draft report. Through this scoping study and from meetings with the Mano River Basin Authority, information on environmental service rewards has been provided to stakeholders.
The PRESA consortium has been involved alongside other key stakeholders to advocate for policy related issues for the past two years in the sub region. Scientists of the World Agroforestry Centre have participated in regional review processes where concepts in payments for environmental services were presented to specialized national services and natural resource practitioners from civil society and the private sector. The main outcome of these activities is the identification of policy constraints regarding the implementation of payments for environmental services in the Fouta Djallon sub-region of West Africa.
Two main questions emerged from high level policymakers during the debates in Guinea and Sierra Leone:
- How do we interest communities in forest reserve conservation?
- How do you address environmental risks such us conflicts between wildlife and humans?
Policy constraints were also identified after a series of meetings with grassroots communities, technocrats and policy makers as follows:
- The regulations governing the use of forest across boundaries are not clear while the management of landscapes that transcend national borders has not been defined.
- There is cross-sectoral interference in terms of mandate, leading to overlaps and conflicting interests.
- The sub region is prone to political instability making stakeholder collaboration very difficult.
- Forest edge communities have little or no knowledge of policies affecting their use of forest and related environmental resources.
- Little or no domestication of international conventions within national policies.
PRESA and partners will conduct an in-depth scoping study on the needs of environmental service buyers and sellers. PRESA is completing the analysis of institutional architectures and planning a cost-benefit analysis of various rewards for environmental service options.
PRESA will strengthen dialogue and work towards implementing rewards for environmental service mechanisms in at least one location.
- Landscape Management for Integrated Livelihoods (LAMIL) Project
- Centre d’Étude et de Recherche en Environnement (CÉRE)
- Communities living within the Fouta Djallon highlands;
- Governments where the Fouta Djallon highlands straddle borders, including the Republic of Guinea itself.