December 8, 2009 by
The Fouta Djallon highlands are a core site of PRESA. Critical environmental services offered by the Fouta Djallon ecosystem are water quality and quantity for more than eight countries, biodiversity conservation and trees for carbon sequestration.
For the past two years, ICRAF has been involved with other key stakeholders in advocating policy related issues in the sub region. Working with the ICRAF office in Guinea, PRESA organized a multi-stakeholder meeting to analyse payments for environmental service issues and develop a road map for future developments in the areas of ecosystems.
Serge Ngendakumana, the PRESA site co-ordinator at the Fouta Djallon highlands, has participated in sub-regional review processes where concepts in payments for environmental services were presented to a community of specialized national services and natural resource practitioners from civil society and the private sector.
PRESA has conducted a simplified scoping study in the targeted landscapes at the Fouta Djallon to make an inventory of the potential for environmental services in Guinea and the policies that support or inhibit their development.
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. There has been a definition of what is needed to update existing environmental policies and the formation of a taskforce to move the process in three other countries.
February 2009 – Sierra Leone workshop
The first Fouta Djallon dependent country to begin reviewing its natural resource management policies is Sierra Leone and this was launched at a multi stakeholders workshop held in February 2009 at Freetown.
After the introduction of the law review process and methodology, an overview of current legislation and policies was done, followed by highlights on international trends and best practices. In this session, ICRAF’s Serge Ngendakumana made a brief presentation on compensation and reward mechanisms (cash and non-cash options) drawn from other ICRAF experiences that involve communities in natural resource management.
Group-work sessions thereafter analysed the existing policy documents, indentified weaknesses and gaps in laws and regulations before formulating valuable recommendations to make the laws up-to-date, comprehensive and implementable.
August 2009 – Guinea meeting
In an effort to get more views and information to strengthen the PRESA community of practice, a multi stakeholders meeting was organised in mid August 2009 in collaboration with the Environmental Science Department, University of Conakry (CERE). The meeting was called to analyse payments for environmental service issues and develop a road map for future developments in the subject of ecosystems.
About 20 stakeholders from organisations and services attended the workshop including representatives from community based organisations, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, Geology and Mines, UN agencies, national NGOs, mining companies and researchers from the Guinean universities.
During technical sessions, participants talked about the main threats to the Fouta Djallon natural forests, synergies for action to implement payments for environmental services in Guinea and future perspectives on research for livelihoods and conservation.
Benefits of the policy discussions
Two main themes emerged from high level policy makers during the debates in Sierra Leone and Guinea:
- How do we interest communities in forest reserve conservation?
- How do you address the aspects of environmental risks such us conflicts between wildlife and humans?
In order to create and maintain the enthusiasm of communities in forest reserve conservation, it appears important to work out a mechanism that responds to the practical needs of communities according to their priorities.
It is necessary to value local knowledge and traditional values (what is important to communities: money or other things? What has been going on before we got involved?).
It is also essential to integrate appropriate biodiversity friendly technologies and management practices as well as setting up appropriate incentive mechanisms based mostly on non cash options.
The answers to tackling human and wildlife conflict are not yet clear. Research is needed to provide more insights. However, an Environmental Impact Assessment could be a good starting point.
All in all, the workshop and meetings contributed to the sharing of information about ongoing initiatives especially mechanisms related to payments for environmental services and which have been developed and tested in Fouta Djallon.