Reforestation of Rhizophora: plant your own tree!

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With the cooperation of local populations, Oceanium has conducted massive reforestation campaigns since 2006. As of today, more than 150 million mangrove trees have been planted in approximately 500 villages in the Sine Saloum delta and in the Casamance. This result makes it the largest effort of mangrove reforestation in the world.

85 per cent recovery: quite convincing results

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Like here in Tobor, which used to be a degraded area, the recovery rate of plants is around 85 per cent. It will take a couple of years for the mangrove trees to become fully grown. (Copyright: Hellio & Van Ingen).

In 2006, Oceanium and the village of Tobor, in the Casamance, planted 65 000 mangrove trees on a degraded plot. This experience of participatory reforestation immediately proved to be a convincing pilot. The villagers —aware that their natural resources were vanishing — were quick to mobilise following the information and coordination meetings launched by Oceanium. The pilot (with a recovery rate of 85 per cent) was also successful from an agro-forestry perspective, and its success encouraged our teams to continue the adventure.

In the following year, 2007, half a million mangrove trees were planted in a dozen villages in the Casamance. In 2008, the association launched the operation "Five million mangroves" in the same region, financially supported by the Yves Rocher Foundation. A total of 6.3 million trees were planted in a period of only one and a half months. With the participation of more than 30,000 persons from 110 villages, our project showed that it reflected a genuine popular concern.

An exceptional mobilisation of villagers

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Like here in the Casamance, whole villages gathered and planted thousands of mangrove trees in a playful atmosphere (Copyright: Hellio & Van Ingen).

In many ways, the year 2009 marked the concretisation of the partnership and the know-how acquired by Oceanium and local populations. Within three months, from August to October 2009, more than 36 million trees were planted by more than 80,000 people from 323 villages in the Casamance and Sine Saloum regions. The success of the environmental education campaign is also unprecedented: more than 200 film debate sessions (cinémas-débats) were organised and 45 000 people were exposed to our work. That for the first time in the world this many trees have been planted in such a short time, was recognised also by Senegalese and international media in November 2009. In order to realise such an ambitious operation, new financial partners, such as the Danone Group and the Insolites Bâtisseurs Foundation had been brought on board as part of a carbon-funding scheme. In addition to increasing its finances, Oceanium also had to improve its organisation. We introduced training for its employees to enable them to perform accurate mapping and monitoring of mangrove stands (through GPS training) as well as to step up the quality of our awareness-raising campaign (through trainings on holding cinéma-débats).

In 2010, the success story continued. More than 62 million trees covering 4700 hectares were planted by 110,000 people from 408 villages. In 2011, with the support of the Livelihoods Fund, 4,200 hectares were restored, and an additional 460 hectares in 2012. In total, almost 12,000 hectares of mangrove have been restored by the people of Senegal. Up to date, Tobor is the most active village in Senegal in terms of reforestation. Seven million trees covering 1,500 hectares have been planted there alone.

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