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Towards the restoration of the forests of the Comoros

Introducing our approach to individual forest conservation agreements

Today is World Forestry Day. For this occasion, we share with you the work we are doing to conserve and restore the native forests of the island of Anjouan. Since 2015, we have entered into agreements with landowners to conserve seven roost sites for the critically endangered Livingstone's flying fox.

Now we are very pleased to announce the imminent implementation of a program of large-scale individual conservation agreements to conserve more native forest.

Anjouan lost 80% of its natural forests between 1995 and 2014¹

Anjouan has lost the majority of its native forest in recent decades thanks to one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. This forest loss not only threatens the survival of endemic species, but also leads to environmental changes on the island that pose serious social problems. The loss of forest has reduced available water reserves and soil fertility, and erosion has led to siltation of reefs. Although communities working near the forest are aware of the problem, previous efforts to reverse the trend have encountered many challenges.

This is why we decided to adopt a new approach: individual conservation agreements. The basic idea is that farmers enter into an agreement with Dahari for forest conservation, pledging not to clear forested land or cut down native trees in their plot. In exchange, they will receive materials or financial resources from the NGO.

Support from scientists to develop the model

Since last April, we have been working on developing a robust program of agreements adapted to the Anjouan context. Professors Julia Jones and Owen Lewis, from Bangor and Oxford Universities in the United Kingdom respectively, traveled to Anjouan last year to begin designing the program. Dr Edwin Pynegar has been on site with us since October, bringing experience and knowledge from his previous role, where he worked in establishing conservation agreements in Bolivia.

We are also very pleased to receive advice from a group of international experts on conservation agreements, and to work with Comorian experts on Anjouan land tenure and other legal aspects.

Feedback from farmers on the new approach

We interviewed farmers working on the edge of the forest to find out how they use their land? why they decide to cut down trees, and what they think about a fair deal?
In the coming weeks and months, we will increase the number of interviews and group discussions. We will then launch a study to scientifically assess the impact of the agreements on deforestation, biodiversity and water resources.

The program will soon be offered to farmers in the Anjouan highlands and we will sign a first set of agreements by the end of September. The program will be rolled out gradually over the coming years, with the aim of conserving at least 1000 hectares of native forest by 2027.


¹Guy Boussougou, Yao Télesphore Brou, Ibrahim Mohamed. Changes in forest cover in the island of Anjouan between 1995 and 2014. Spatial Analysis and GEOmatics conference, SAGEO 2015, Nov 2015, Hammamet, Tunisia. hal-01478236