Department of Sustainable Agroforestry
The Department of Sustainable Agroforestry of the Jane Goodall Institute Spain's Program in Senegal and Guinea was created in Dindéfélo in April 2013 to facilitate chimpanzee research and conservation, as well as the sustainable management of natural resources.
The Jane Goodall Institute program had identified important issues related to sustainable agroforestry that needed to be addressed in order to successfully help the conservation of the chimpanzee population and their habitat: forest fragmentation, deforestation, forest fires, the increase of cultivatable land and an increase of livestock density, among others. All of these factors drive the destruction of forests and, as a result, the destruction of the habitat of groups of Pan troglodytes verus, a critically endangered chimpanzee subspecies.
Following the JGI Senegal team’s approach, the Department of Sustainable Agroforestry bases all decisions on scientific data. Research has been carried out by the JGI team since the beginning of the Department, a project that has been supported by various entities throughout the years.
During the first period, ways to counter problems and threats were planned in the area of the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve (RNCD), especially the Nandoumary valley, one of the areas most affected by deforestation. Work was done to recognize the agricultural and livestock system in the area, which would provide the foundation for the Department of Sustainable Agroforestry.
Historically, there have been 6 main lines of work:
The Department is based on four strategies to improve the conservation of habitats in the RNCD: ecological restoration, which aims to accelerate plant succession on land that has been deforested or in abandoned fields, in order to create corridors for chimpanzees and other fauna; plantation of living fences, meaning the use of living plants to create fences around cultivated fields, to prevent wood extraction from the forest to be used for dead-wood fences; plantations of buffer zones, which aim to reduce the extraction of natural resources in protected forests by planting the species of greatest interest to humans outside the protected areas; and the distribution of fruit trees and nebeday seeds and plants, in order to improve food security, generate revenue for families and prevent the extraction of wild fruits from the forest.
Since 2019, Maisons du Monde Foundation has collaborated in the financing of these activities, along with sensitisation workshops and bushfire prevention and control.
Bushfires are a serious threat to biodiversity and, unfortunately, are frequent in the Sahel ecoregion, which includes JGI’s area of interest in Senegal. Collaboration with the Fundación Bioparc and the Universidad Politécnica Madrid (UPM) has allowed the study of the dynamics of fires and the design of infrastructures against fires and palliative measures. Firebreaks are made every year at the end of the rainy season. The JGI also conducts awareness campaigns and collaborates with local actors to combat deforestation due to bushfires.
The Department of Sustainable Agroforestry focuses on the analysis of the fields and their location. The team also propose the best strategies to achieve the highest efficiency in the production of food for the DCNR villages, always taking into account the best ways to protect biodiversity and areas of high importance for conservation.
These studies allow the Department to make decisions based on scientific data. The Department completed the first forest inventory of the Dindéfélo Community Nature Reserve following this procedure, in collaboration with the Universidad de Huelva and the UPM, as well as baseline studies in the following areas:
- Ecological corridors of chimpanzees, in collaboration with the UPM
- Regeneration of abandoned crop fields, in collaboration with the UPM
- Bushfires, in collaboration with the UPM
- Agricultural and livestock systems
Scientific and educational materials
Other objectives of the Department of Sustainable Agroforestry are the production of scientific and educational materials, as well as the creation of a botanical guide of the area and other ethnobotany guides.
Through collaborations with entities such as the Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche, soil studies and subsequent training have been carried out with farmers in various towns in the Dindéfélo commune to counteract erosion and improve soil fertility.