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First evaluation of the use of Assisted Natural Regeneration by Central African farmers to restore their landscapes

Kpolita A., Dubiez E., Yongo O.D., Peltier R.. 2022. Trees, Forests and People, 7 : 14 p..

DOI: 10.1016/j.tfp.2021.100165

On the outskirts of the city of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, fuelwood production, slash-and-burn agriculture and artisanal timber exploitation are causing deforestation and forest ecosystem degradation. Within the framework of the REDD+ Component of the South-West Regional Development Project, the implementation of Assisted Natural Regeneration during weeding (ANRw) in the slash-and-burn system was proposed and set up by 23 volunteer farmers on 24 fields with an average area of 0.22 ha in two villages (Boteke and Salanga). The objective of the study was to characterise the floristic structure of the juvenile woody vegetation resulting from ANRw in these two villages. More specifically, it aimed to: 1) describe the methods used to inform and raise awareness amongst farmers who volunteer to practise ANRw; 2) identify the main species conserved by the farmers; 3) identify the reasons or factors that motivated farmers to choose these species; 4) identify the biological and ecological characteristics of these species; and 5) evaluate the height growth of young trees preserved by ANRw over a 14-month period. The third inventory of the 24 plots (volunteers' fields) gave 1,668 woody plants preserved by ANR on 5.35 ha (312 trees ha-1), divided into 42 genera, 47 species and 23 families. These results show that ANRw is a simple technique to implement and can help maintain trees in fields in areas where pressure on the forest is high. In the supported villages, communities have shown an interest in applying this technique to reintroduce trees in the fields. This technique should be popularised in other places to improve the sustainable management of anthropized forest landscapes. In addition, volunteers who have tested ANRw say they are willing to continue practicing it. However, despite this genuine initial enthusiasm, this restoration drive will need to be monitored and supported due to the current context of extreme poverty and economic, social and political instability.

Mots-clés : régénération naturelle assistée; restauration du paysage forestier; conservation du paysage; déboisement; dégradation des forêts; participation des agriculteurs; agroforesterie; république centrafricaine

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