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 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 and, considering the lack of previous research in this subject, bases its actions on its own research. Research has been carried out by the JGI team since the beginning of the Department, a project that has been supported by various universities throughout the years.
During the first period, a way 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.
Currently, there are five main lines of work:
The Department is based on three strategies to improve habitats in the RNCD: ecological restoration, which aims to accelerate plant succession on land that has been deforested or in abandoned fields; fodder plantations, which consist of enabling pasture areas with the aim of reducing the presence of livestock in the forest and thus indirectly favoring natural regeneration; and productive plantations, which aim to reduce the extraction of natural resources in forested areas by planting the species of greatest interest to humans. In 2016 the first ecological restoration of the Nandoumary valley was completed thanks to the collaboration of the Fundación Bioparc, and thanks to Trees for the Future (TFF), thousands of trees were planted in 2016, including the construction of green fences. In 2017, Fundacion Bioparc funded a second ecological restauration project near the Guinean border, and the JGI and TFF worked together to distribute seeds and plant about 700,000 trees in Senegal and Guinea. In Guinea, JGI is also conducting a pilot program for productive plantations to address the communities’ needs in areas that are key to chimpanzee conservation. A pilot program for fodder plantations was implemented in 2017 in the RNCD with the support of the Conseil de l’Isere.
Today, the Department of Sustainable Agroforestry focuses on the analysis of the fields and their location. They 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.
Forest fires 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. Firewalls are made every year at the end of the rainy season. The Department also conducts awareness campaigns and liaisons with local entities to combat deforestation due to forest fires.
These studies allow the Department to make decisions based on scientifically 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 UPM
- Regeneration of abandoned crop fields, in collaboration with UPM
- Fires, 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.