The World Bank today announced new support for Benin to strengthen sustainable forest management to boost climate resilience and create opportunities for local communities whose livelihoods depend on forest resources from the endangered gazetted forests in the southern, central, and northern regions of the country.
This new $30 million operation is an additional financing aimed at improving the outcomes of theBenin Gazetted Forests Management project(GFM), thus contributing to achieve the project's initial objective. Namely, to restore 22,000 hectares of forests while ensuring an integrated management of targeted classified forests to increase sustainably produced fuelwood for major cities and develop forest products value chains for rural communities.
Launched in 2019 with $75 million, a part of the amount allocated to the GFM – $15 million – was redirected to the Covid-19 Emergency Funds in 2020 to help fight the pandemic, thereby disrupting the implementation of several key components. Despite this restructuring, village communities' active participation in the project's reforestation activities has helped restore nearly 18,000 hectares of degraded forests.
"This additional financing will reinstate innovative activities suchas the promotion of sustainable andenvironmentally friendlyagricultural intensificationand thedevelopmentofnon-timber forest product valuechains, such as shea.Overall,it will strengthen thevalue chains on which a large part of the population depends for survival,"saidAtou Seck, World Bank Country Manager for Benin."In high shea production areas, the project will strengthen the shea value chain, promote energy-efficient processing methods, and establish new shea plantations to replace aging and less productive trees, in order to boost the incomes of local communities surrounding the targeted classified forests."
In total, since 2020, more than $22 million have been transferred to the communities in all eight classified forests where large-scale reforestation has taken place.
The GFM is also consistent withthe World Bank Group's regional strategy for Western and Central Africa,namely with regard to rebuilding trust between citizens and the State in order to create a new social contract, removing bottlenecks that prevent businesses from creating more and better jobs, strengthening human capital and empowering women so that all boys and girls can reach their full potential, and building climate resilience to help countries adapt to and mitigate climate shocks by strengthening the resilience of cities and rural areas. It is also part of Benin's Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).
The GFM covers 11 classified forests spanning over 917,951 hectares, or 63% of the total 46 classified forests in Benin. In February 2023, the total reforested area was estimated at 17,730 hectares out of a projected 22,000 hectares, including 13,715 hectares of fuelwood plantations (Acacias auriculiformis) and 4,015 hectares of timber woods (Tectona grandis). Reforestation activities in eight classified forests generated more than 33,700 direct and indirect jobs (31.5% for women), involving over 12,000 members of local community organizations and 21,700 temporary workers.