Reconciliation and resilience: Key elements for sustainable landscapes in Africa

January 06, 2020 | Written BY : IMFN

From November 12 to 15, 2019, more than 150 experts and representatives from African communities gathered in Tanzania for the 2019 African Landscapes Dialogue (ALD). Participants recognized the importance of reconciliation between stakeholders and the need to support local economies in their different approaches, two elements common to the Model Forest approach.

A field visit allowed participants to chat with members of coffee eco-processing cooperatives, to visit “Chaggah” type home gardens, to observe a demonstration of Biochar (charcoal production of plant origin produced from biomass residues of organic matter – a good way to supplement the burning).

The African Model Forest Network (AMFN) co-organized and co-facilitated the event. Key lessons learned from the Model Forest experience shared with participants included the need to have: a development strategy for green social entrepreneurship in support of local community resilience; an approach to bringing stakeholders together based on the negotiation of mutual interests (reconciliation) rather than a focus on conflict, and; the necessary strategies and means to mobilize financial flows and investments which support of the dynamics of the popular economy.

“These lessons and many others, based on the development process of Model Forests, were well received and the subject of consensus with the other participants of the African Landscapes Dialogue”, said Joachim Nguiebouri, Coordinator for the African Model Forest Network.

Another conclusion that emerged from the ALD is that support and funding efforts for the sustainable development of landscapes must move away from the project approach in order to offer greater flexibility and longer time frames. To do this, the development dynamics and the instruments used must be part of an integrated landscape management approach. An issue that challenges AMFN. “In this regard, I am thinking of mobilizing the investments and funding necessary to scale up the lessons learned over the past 15 years, as well as to consolidate the partnerships forged around the ALD, in order to constitute a true pan-African network representative of these territories in their splendid diversity,” said Dr. Chimere Diaw, Director of the AMFN.

“Several national and regional thematic discussion groups formed during this event planted the seeds of this momentum,” added Dr. Diaw. “Among these, there is the Trans-languages Group, mobilizing the Francophone minority to establish links between West and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa, and the “One Africa” Group which works in the same spirit, but from the angle of transcontinental economic and organizational solidarity”.

The ALD took place under the theme of bringing together territorial leaders for peer-to-peer learning and to define of a bottom-up agenda in support of the Action Plan for African Territories. The participants, from around 20 countries, held in-depth discussions on their experiences and methods of landscape level intervention, as well as on the knowledge necessary for better management of landscapes.[1]

The AMFN moderated or co-facilitated the overall review of African landscape initiatives, as well as debates on governance and the methods of uniting diverse stakeholders, the management of land conflicts through dialogue, and the negotiation of the rights and interests of local stakeholders.

Several examples from Model Forests and partners in Cameroon, DRC and Rwanda illustrated the leadership of AMFN women in the development of “green economic models” in support of the sustainable development of African forest lands, such as marketing of moringa and the sustainable production of giant snails.

[1] African Landscapes Action Plan – ALAP, adopted by NEPAD and the African Union

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