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Is there an optimum range of trees/ha in FMNR? What are the options if a farmer does not have enough living tree stumps in her/his field? (6 answers)

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I just watched the World Vision video narrated by Tony Rinaudo and I wonder how widely FMNR can be practiced. Are the natural/biological conditions nearly always in place for FMNR to succeed in average fields in the Sahel or are there some areas where more intensive interventions are necessary to ensure that FMNR succeeds?

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Apr 21, 2011
Hello - The FRAMEweb Team is following up on some of our discussions to find out if the information shared was useful. We're compiling some information about our work and the FRAMEweb site and would like to hear from you. Was this discussion useful? Did you learn anything knew? Did you find it helpful or informative? How did you apply the information you gathered from the discussions or tools and resources?Please let me know - you can either post here, or send me an email! - Carmen

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    May 19, 2011
    Hi Tony,
    it was a bit of both. In 1999 the Barahogon association was given training in a) Mali's 1995 forest code and b) in "tree friendly" techniques for field clearance ie how not to clear fell. Everything after that (village bylaws, enforcement etc.) was at the initiative (and expense) of the Barahogon members in their 20 members villages. I revisited the area again in 2005, realised something interesting was going on and Sahel Eco began promoting FNMR more widely in 2006. There is a recent update on the extent of reforestation in Bankass at www.africa-regreening.blogspot.com
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    Apr 26, 2011
    Hi Mary, thanks for sharing this, and its a very exciting story. I'm interested to know how FMNR originated in this region. Was it a spontaneous indigenous movement or did someone bring the idea in from outside - and if so - from where?

    warm regards.

    Tony Rinaudo.
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    Apr 21, 2011
    Hello - The FRAMEweb Team is following up on some of our discussions to find out if the information shared was useful. We're compiling some information about our work and the FRAMEweb site and would like to hear from you. Was this discussion useful? Did you learn anything knew? Did you find it helpful or informative? How did you apply the information you gathered from the discussions or tools and resources?Please let me know - you can either post here, or send me an email! - Carmen
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    Oct 18, 2010
    FMNR has been used for the past 10 years by the Barahogon association in Mali, to restore tree cover on their agricultural lands. I have posted a link to the film BARAHOGON in which farmers from the village of Horé Guendé who are facing problems caused by deforestation, travel to the village Endé to visit the fields of the Barahogon members and see the results for themselves. You can watch the film at http://vimeo.com/4163389 It is in local languages with French subtitles A transcription in both English and French is available. In the case of teh Barahogon villages, the natural/biological conditions were in place. What was needed in addition to this for FMNR to succeed (after training in the simple techniques in the late 1990's) was strict enforcement of community level bylaws which restrict acces to wood from on-farm trees, to the farmer who cultivates the land plus a long campaign to stop people with timber permits purchased from the forestry service, from felling trees on the Barahogon villages' agricutural land.
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    Oct 11, 2010
    Greetings,
    I wanted to add a few comments and a rejoinder to the posting by Tony, even though I haven't had a chance to return to the Sahel in some years to observe first hand the latest developments. It is certainly important to note that the success of FMNR is tied to the "farmer first" approach that encourages innovation and adaptation; local resource users and managers are the best placed to determine priority objectives for a given household and plot of land, and to manage the trade-offs in agrosylvopastoral production systems. And these objectives and management practices will certainly vary widely.
    And as management intensifies, it is interesting to note the shift towards a mix of protecting and nuturing "natural" regeneration and more active planting of selected multipurpose tree and shrub species, whether by direct seeding or cuttings, or with planting stock from nurseries. The close integration of FMNR with other practicies aimed at soil and water conservation, soil fertility management and even mixed farming (crop and livestock production, diversification of farm products to include medicinal products, fodder, etc.) is also associated with intensification and increased investment in resource conservation that increases productivity.
    While FMNR was born out of a failure of conventional and very costly project funded approaches to raising, transporting and planting out, tending and protecting tree seedlings...FMNR has also been spurred by other factors, such as the scarcity of fuelwood and tree products following increases in population density, reduction of woodlands and open access "bush" and ineffective or insufficient efforts by government forest depts to protect, conserve and sustain production of forest products from state forests. Villages and farmers needed wood and a variety of non timber forest products - and decided they could produce more "close to home" along with their food crops. They also took into account the fact that crop yields were being adversely affected by the elimination of trees and shrubs in farmfields and by the old methods of working hard to have "clean fields". While this worked in isolated, small fields surrounded by large expanses of bush, this practice was no longer well adapted to a landscape with fields cleared from horizon to horizon. And I feel that other important factors were related to the reduction of barriers or constraints to adoption of FMNR. For example, tree tenure became more secure; the forest dept rolled back some laws regulating cutting, pruning of "protected" species like baobab, gao (Faidherbia) and others; farmers gained new appreciation and insights about what was possible through cross visits and training programs (access to information); farmers were empowered through decentralization and rural development inititives and by a devolution of management rights to take more control over local management of natural resources; and practices by Forest Dept agents changed to become less inclined to levy fines or to require permits to transport wood, and more open to farmers producing, harvesting and selling wood and other products raised on farms.
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    Oct 8, 2010
    Dear Tom,
    if you keep the 'farmer managed' term to the fore, specifics of how many, which species and exactly how and when to prune become less important because at the end of the day, no matter what you decide is optimum, the farmer will choose a regime that suits his/her needs. This is my response to a similar question posed by somebody else:
    However, those who promote FMNR should not become obsessed with specific methods. Perhaps one of the major reasons for widespread acceptance of FMNR is that it represents a departure point from hard science with replicate trial plots towards farmer innovation - with its infinite variations and bent towards what works and what is practical in the field. The emphasis is and always has been on the "Farmer Managed" part of FMNR. And it is precisely this freedom of choice that a farmer has to meet his/her own specific needs, using the free materials at hand (species mix), responding to the specific climate and soils and crop mix and understanding at the time of implementation. FMNR is not a ' fixed practice, but varies from region to region and even from farm to farm. I recently heard of farmers in Burkina Fasso who only leave and prune trees which are growing approximately in straight lines and they move self sown seedlings from where they are not wanted and plant them within in these lines. Within the rows the trees are grown as bushes which are slashed to ground level during the rainy season, except for single stems that are allowed to grow about every 12 meters. They choose to do this because they do not like interference with their ploughing and soil infertility is a major issue which they address by mulching with the pruned branchesv(personal communication, Roland Bunch). 
    In Maradi region today some farmers are still leaving from very few trees (10 - 20 / ha) to very many – (150 trees/ ha). Many of these farmers only leave a single stem to grow from a stump which they harvest when they have a need or at an optimum time for them, while others leave multiple stems, successively harvesting one each year. Others still allow a single stem to grow into a tree, and then only harvesting say 1/2 to 1/3rd of the branches per year (i.e. pollarding), but the tree always remains. They discovered pollarding provides larger wood harvests and re-growth is more rapid.
    Even the species used in FMNR varies greatly within and between regions. In Maradi, the main species used in FMNR are Guiera senegelensis and Pilostigma, which predominantly provide firewood and building poles, while in Zinder region Faidherbia albida and Baobab are the dominant species used - neither of these are good for firewood! The mix of tree species I am seeing in Ethiopia, Uganda, Swaziland and Myanma are very different to the mix used for FMNR in Senegal, Mali, Niger and Chad.
    The bulk of FMNR in Niger is generated from live tree stumps. However, in the Tahoua Region, where there were few tree stumps remaining, FMNR became possible only after farmers dug Zai pits and half moons. It appears that droppings placed in the zai and half moon structures contained tree seeds which germinated resulting in over 250,000 hectares becoming revegetated (Chris Reij, Personal communication). In Zinder region, there is a suggestion that the one million or more hectares of Faidherbia albida trees have partially at least been generated from the roots of mature trees.
    In Niger, FMNR is practiced by individual farmers on their own land. However, as I promote FMNR in other countries, eg. Ethiopia and Uganda, there are ample opportunities to not only practice FMNR on farmland but also in degraded forests through community management.
    Finally, farmers have many different objectives in mind when they practice FMNR, including - soil fertility, wind break, fire wood and building poles - for home consumption and sale, fruits, edible leaves, fodder, erosion control, reversal of land degradation, aesthetics, medicines, income generation, social acceptance. Ultimately it is the mix of objectives a farmer has in practicing FMNR that will determine the type of FMNR practiced.
    What is interesting to me is that FMNR was largely born out of the failure of conventional technologies (raising usually exotic tree seedlings in a nursery and planting them out). What appears to be happening today in some areas is that as farmers begin to see trees as an economic asset in their own right and they see that the right species and arrangements enhance crop yields and increase resilience to adverse 'shocks' such as drought, insects and strong winds, they have also become interested in planting tree nursery stock! Hence, in Maradi more farmers are planting edible seeded Australian acacias, along with improved zyzyphus and other indigenous species which are locally extinct. In Burkina farmers have focussed on glyracidia etc.
    Last year a research fellow documented the origin, spread and density of FMNR in Maradi. While it was a useful study, I would say that 75% of FMNR which occurs in that region was not counted because of the researchers choice of 'characterization parameters' of FMNR. This was sad to me because it also means that the full impact of FMNR was grossly underestimated.
    There are guidelines for FMNR which I am currently updating (attached). Could I suggest to you though that in your write up you empasize the extreme flexibility of FMNR, the fact that farmers have considerable freedom of individual choice on how and when the practice FMNR, of which species they practice FMNR on and the end uses of FMNR.
    As I run workshops in different countries it is very interesting to me that NGO and forestry personnel invariably ask for specifications – “what species, how many, when and how to prune..”, whereas farmers ask questions like – “how can I possibly leave trees on my field since they will shade the food crops and reduce the yields?” When I explain to the farmers that they are the experts, and/or that they will know through experimentation which trees to leave and how to prune, and it is them who will make the choices, they relax, and the atmosphere in the workshop changes. I believe that it is at that point that they begin to embrace FMNR. This is very, very important. If a farmers objective is to increase food production, he does not want to be forced to do something that 'he knows' will reduce yields. Effectively, in the workshops I am giving them the assurance that ultimately, they are in charge, and they will decide on what to do - not the (often mistrusted) forestry officer and not the NGO extension agent (whose livelihood does not depend on the advice he gives).
    In regard to the second question there is a remarkable story from the Tahoua region of Niger shared by Chris Reij in which some 250,000 ha of formerly lateritic hard pan country has been restored to productive use AND the trees have returned. The farmers dug zai holes and half moons. It appears that tree seeds brought in in the animal manure and perhaps by birds germinated in the holes. The transformation is very dramatic. I'll see if I can attach photos. (if it doesn't up load let me know and I can email Chris' photos to you.)
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    -- Updated Oct 11, 2010 --

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Date CreatedFriday, October 8, 2010 4:13 PM
Date ModifiedFriday, October 8, 2010 4:13 PM
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