In the Sudano-Sahelian zone of the Republic of Niger, the land is highly degraded. It is either deforested or is the site of dry forests that are no longer able to naturally regenerate.
The Niger Acacia Plantations project aims to restore deforested and highly degraded land in the Sudano-Sahelian zone by empowering rural communities to adopt sustainable agro-forestry practices on about 8000 hectares of land through the establishment of plantations using native Acacia senegalensis (Acacia Senegal). This project represents the first effort in Niger to establish Acacia Senegal plantations on a large scale in regions where dry forests are unable to regenerate by natural means. The sale of emission reduction credits from the carbon sequestered in plantations will make the project more viable by providing an additional revenue stream that will supplement income from the sale of Arabic gum from the acacia tree. The project is an innovative public-private partnership involving Achats Service International (ASI), a dynamic Franco-Nigerien agro-business; The Ministry of Water, the Environment and the Fight against Desertification (ME/E/LCD); and rural communities, who will benefit from the project through employment creation and by developing their own plantations.
The project allows the rehabilitation of degraded areas that have become unfit for agriculture. Acacia's rooting system is very powerful (subterranean biomass is twice the aerial part), which makes it efficient for dune-fixing as well as wind and water erosion control. Its nitrogen-fixing ability improves soil fertility which can restore agriculture in the future. Local biodiversity will also benefit from the canopy cover created by the tree plantations.
Local farmers participating in the maintenance of these plantations can benefit from the sale of Arabic gum produced by the Acacia tree. Sale of emission reduction credits from the carbon sequestered in the plantations will also be an added revenue. ASI is guaranteeing the purchase of Arabic gum and emissions reductions at a fair price, allowing project participants a fair access to international markets. The project also allows for technical transfer of know-how and training to the communities, especially in terms of best practices regarding tree selection, grafting, nursery technology and field monitoring.