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In the north of the country, a thousand farmers have been trained in the use of this technique, which makes it possible to partially reforest agricultural land.
In northern Ghana, on the border with Burkina Faso, the principles of assisted natural regeneration are transforming the landscape. This savannah region with its semi-arid climate is home to farmers who traditionally practise slash-and-burn agriculture. Before each planting, they set fire to the plant waste that litters the soil, in order to optimize the available cultivable surface and increase the carbon content of the soil.
This practice has several drawbacks, including soil degradation and the premature destruction of all forms of wild vegetation. In order to remedy this, the development aid NGO World Vision launched a programme ten years ago which, on the contrary, allows plant waste to be transformed into compost, but above all to accompany the growth of trees in the field. A thousand farmers in the Talensi district have already been trained in the virtues of assisted natural regeneration, with surprising results.
The return of biodiversity
On the hillsides, more or less dense groves have appeared where previously only a few isolated shrubs grew. There are wild berries and fruits, chillies, spices, medicinal plants… In the once bare fields, trees have been preserved. Now, in the shade of combretum, diospyros, neem, karite and neem trees, maize, sorghum, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and onions grow to feed the farmers and their families, as well as groundnuts and hibiscus, some of which are sold on local markets. The bees have also returned, so that 25 hives have already been installed, 21 of which have been colonised. They provide high quality honey, which also improves the farmers’ income. Not to mention the dead wood, which is used for cooking. Instead of destroying nature in order to impose an artificial production method, assisted natural regeneration (and more generally agroforestry) thus allows the emergence of productive ecosystems that stimulate biodiversity.
600 hectares restored
An ancestral practice in various regions of the world, assisted natural regeneration was only theorised in the 1980s by the Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo. It is based on a simple principle: to encourage tree regrowth through pruning and self-seeding. The smallest offshoots from a stump are eliminated, in order to encourage the most vigorous one that will eventually give rise to a new tree, without the need for further human intervention. This process was first tested in Niger, which already has five million hectares reforested using assisted natural regeneration. The technique was then applied in Ethiopia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, but also in Asia, notably in Indonesia and East Timor. In Ghana, 600 hectares have already been restored. By 2030, the country aims to reforest two million hectares, part of which will be restored using the principles of assisted natural regeneration.