Senegal's experience of interface management between forestry sector decision-makers, landowners, interested parties and the local population

Ababacar Boye 1

1. Summary

Senegal is typical of the Sahelian regions of Africa: its rainfall is fluctuating and insufficient, and for several decades it has suffered large-scale deforestation due to natural and man-made causes. This has destroyed most of the biophysical shields, leading to increased wind and water erosion and, on three quarters of the national territory, to very low productivity on agricultural and grazing land. Despite this rather unfavourable context, Senegal's forest remains a significant source of economic, ecological and socio-cultural benefits. Indeed, the people obtain considerable profit from working forest plots and participating in the management of the forests and adjacent areas through grazing, the collecting of honey, the gathering of wild fruits, small wood, dead wood, and eco-tourism.

On the face of it, these advantages play a major role in encouraging the beneficiaries to adopt rational practices to help ensure the longevity and sustainability of the forest resource. This has gradually, yet tangibly, led to the prople participating in the establishment of fences and agro-forestry plots, natural forest management, the planting of community forests and ecosystem rehabilitation in general.

In addition, changes in the institutional environment have opened up encouraging prospects for improving income from the forest and have led to the emergence of relatively well-planned forms of socio-economic organisation. Over time, this approach aims to create or strengthen decentralised consultation frameworks and operational community development units which will play a part in the development of the forestry sectors. This strategy, which is backed by a community approach to local land management involving more grassroots participation, will make for more effective management of local matters, help protect the environment and make natural resource conservation and management more effective (Bâ, 2002).

With this in mind, a large proportion of national forestry service responsibilities has been transferred to the local communities. The Forestry Service now has a dual role: to discharge those responsibilities that have not been transferred, e.g. development and management of classified forests, and to provide support, advice and services to the local communities through conventions drawn up annually for that purpose.

2. Senegal's forest policy priorities

The Senegal Forest Action Plan (PAFS), approved in 1992, seeks, on the one hand, to conserve forest potential and socio-ecological equilibrium and , on the other, to meet the population's requirements in terms of wood and non-wood forest products, including products obtained from wildlife.

The guiding principles underlying the priority activities implemented under the PAFS are:

The key priorities of the PAFS areto:

In 1997, in line with the principles of regionalisation and with the agreement of the local communities, steps were taken to decentralise forestry planning. This led to the establishment of regional forestry action plans (PAFR).

In practical terms, forestry activities have been broken down into five components:

It is worth pointing out that under the PAFS action programmes the methodological and technical aspects of each key component are coordinated both at national and regional levels, to ensure that they are adapted to specific conditions.

3. The legal framework governing the interface

Developing an institutional framework and adapting the laws to ensure wider participation. Alongside an institutional framework, the rewriting of the various laws and regulations governing natural resource management has always been considered essential for achieving the aim of rational natural resource and environment management, based on the sustainable development principle, as stated in the various plans.

The colonial period was marked by quasi patrimonial rules, regulations and management which, in most cases, made a clean sweep of all the grassroots community's rights to natural resources. After independence, the colonial rules and regulations were simply incorporated, in some cases after being strengthened, into the February 1965 Act prescribing the forest code and its implementing decree. A revision of this first forest code in July 1974 did not bring any major innovations in terms of grassroots community involvement or responsibility.

The 1993 Act and its implementing decree of April 1995 redefined the legal framework and encouraged rational forest resource management. The 1993 code, which made significant strides toward people's participation, included the following innovations:

The 1996 Act prescribing transfer of responsibilities states that the responsibilities of the decentralised communities shall be determined by law and that any transfer of responsibility to a local community shall be accompanied by the transfer, from the State to those communities, of the resources and means needed to carry out those responsibilities adequately.

Article 3 of the decree providing for the implementation of the Act on the transfer of natural resource management responsibilities reaffirms that the State has overall responsibility for the rational management of natural resources and the environment. It must also ensure the longevity of the resources, thereby promoting sustainable development. The local communities, on the other hand, are responsible for day-to-day management.

Thus, the State guarantees the sustainability of the resource as part of its shared responsibilities with the local communities. Each player has his/her own role, bearing in mind the inter-dependence of the various components of ecosystems and respecting Senegal's commitments to the various international conventions on the environment and sustainable development..

If we look at the reasons for transferring responsibility and the way that that transfer takes place, i.e. through laws and regulations, it becomes clear that this new distribution of powers between the State, the local communities and the latter's internal organisations will pose complex problems. The future relationship between the players involved in natural resource management (NRM) is also easier to see.

Due to changes in mentality and behaviour, and the community's determination to manage their forest resources, the forest code was again revised after the laws on regionalisation and the transfer of responsibilities had been passed, leading to the January 1998 Act and its implementing decree. This forest code reaffirmed previous practices and, in addition, set out the local communities' area of responsibility, i.e. the forests located outwith the State's classified forest domain, allowing these communities to enter into contracts and to recruit forest guards to keep a watchful eye on the forests.

4. Managing the interface between the various players

Approach. This is based on the participatory and partnership approach methodology and follows a number of sequential stages:

The approach is based on an analysis of forest potential, land tenure, data on wood-based resources and the ability of the grassroots organisation and private individuals to implement the management plans properly. Special emphasis is also placed on assessing traditional knowledge, new technology and the strengthening of capacities. Now, in addition to the decentralised consultation frameworks established under former projects, the Forestry Service has, since regionalisation, depended heavily on the Regional Development Agencies (ARD), responsible for providing technical and methodological assisstance for the local communities in a given region.

Case study. Participatory and integrated management of the Saré Gardi community forest (PROGEDE case study). What is interesting about this case study which covers a new management approach is that it seeks to simplify methods and procedures while making use of local practices and a willingness of those involved to enter into contract agreements (Onobon, 2001; Kolda, 2002).

Description of the site

The site is natural forest on rough mineral and tropical ferruginous soils, straddling two rural communities in the same administrative region. It is almost flat and has a Soudano-Guinean type of climate - hot and humid, with 7 dry months and 5 wet months. Its flora, which is rich and diversified, comprises some relics of dense forest and degraded gallery forests, but is dominated by woodland and savanna of varying types - wooded, or tree covered or, in places, shrub covered.

The various stages of the process

Identification and selection of the forest, by common consensus, and an environmental study:

An inter-village management and development committee is currently being established and will cover all 27 CVGDs.

Drawing up a management plan

Bush fire fighting

Training and strengthening the population's skills

While awaiting finalisation of the management plan, test operations were carried out on the extraction and sale of dead wood from the community forest. After long and serious discussions, the incomes from the sale of the products were distributed as follows:

70 % for the woodcutters

(job creation)

10 % for the management fund

(resource sustainability)

10 % for the village management committee's fund

(combating poverty)

10 % for the rural community

(community development)

Participatory management of the Ndankou classified forest: the PSACD2 case study

This case study shows that it is possible to ensure that each and every player has access to forest resources to meet his/her vital requirements without jeopardising the interests of the others, without endangering the forest's existing potential and, at the same time, preventing disputes.

In accordance with the decentralisation act and the provisions of the new forest code, a draft participatory management agreement was drawn up between the Water and Forests Service and two rural communities (Nganda and Médinatou Salam II), covering 16 villages bordering the Dankou forest. This draft agreement is additional to the Forest Code and aims to define specific rules for the management of the Dankou forest and the adjacent protected area. It lists the steps that the villagers must take to ensure the success of their management efforts based on the specific features of the forest and its current state.

The broad lines of this local code are:

Organising the villages for forest management

The 16 villages bordering the Dankou forest and the adjacent protected area have designated their Village Committees (VC) to manage the forest. An inter-village committee (IVC), comprising two VC representatives from each village (one man and one woman), is responsible for coordinating the activities of the 16 village committees. IVC committee members are renewable every year and a code of procedures has been drawn up to define the method of organisation and operation of the IVC. The IVC has set itself up as an Economic Interest Group (GIE) so that it can open a bank account on behalf of the villages and manage their funds.

Every year, the village committees draw up and implement a Work Plan. The draft agreement makes provision for a longer-term Work Plan (10 years), on which a Simplified Development and Management Plan will be based.

A monitoring system has been established and is being implemented by the IVC in an effort to protect the forest from any inappropriate use and to ensure that the local management code is complied with. The head of the local Water and Forests Service shall be referred to where necessary. Should the forest guard fail to fulfil his/her role, the Inter-Village Committee could decide to have him/her replaced.

Rules for the harvesting of forest products

The established rules apply to all wood and non-wood forest products.

Only the inhabitants of the 16 villages adjacent to the Dankou forest may collect forest products for domestic use with VC authorisation. The people of other villages have to make a request to the Chair of the VC who passes it on to the IVC for approval and follow-up.

After consultation with the various VCs, the IVC defines the areas where the collection of certain products is prohibited.

The cutting of live wood is prohibited in the Dankou forest and the adjacent protected area until the environment has been sufficiently rehabilitated.

Given the shortage of dead wood in the forests close to the villages, the Water and Forests Service may authorise woodcutting in the protected area. However, this authorisation will apply only to some clearly defined species.

Harvested products intended for sale are subjected to a well-established procedure:

Rules concerning grazing in the forest

Grazing rights in the Dankou forest are granted to the inhabitants of the 16 villages, to the inhabitants of surrounding villages and to nomadic herders.

Rules concerning land clearance and bush fires

Land clearance and the use of fire, even for collecting honey, are strictly prohibited.
The 16 villages shall share responsibility for maintaining the fire-breaks.

Management of income obtained from the forest

A local development fund will be established and managed by the IVC, which has opened an account with the Mutual Credit Bank (CMS). The monies the VCs obtain from the harvesting of forest products shall be allocated as follows:

Twice yearly, the VCs will transfer 55% (forest development fund + rural communities) to the IVC who will in turn transfer the amount due to the rural communities.

5. Conclusions and discussion

As regards the case studies described, it must be pointed out that direct management of forest resources by the native people is a new development. Elsewhere, it is the loggers and the foreign companies who lay down the law. Another new development to be welcomed is the establishment of local woodcutter groups in the villages concerned. These are two significant and historical steps forward in the reform of Senegal's forestry system.

On the subject of decentralisation, this is an irreversible process in Senegal. In passing the Transfer of Responsibility Act, the State sought to promote local resource management based on the subsidiarity principle. Unfortunately, between January 1997 and May 2002, Senegal was involved in electoral battles, to the extent that the players involved did not have the time to focus on managing the transferred responsibilities. Now that the newly elected local representatives have taken up their posts, the renewed political stability should favour improved natural resource and environment management by local organizations. This will involve examining and improving aspects, such as:

In any event, it is now common knowledge that balanced treatment of the interface between the various players involved in forest resource management is a major step toward facilitating and strengthening cooperation between the communities using a single resource, thus enabling the Forest Service to find the sustainable solution being sought by the National Committee for an Alternative to Dispute Management (Fall and Niang, 2002; Thiam, 2002).

This ongoing search for balance between the various parties involved in forest matters which, in a way, has an effect on sustainable forest resource management, should be given greater attention under international conventions which deal with this matter (Thiam, 2002).

Finally the development partners should also direct their efforts to strengthening local administrative services, which is the basis for all consultation and negotiation depends and which could ensure sustainable forest resource management.


Bâ. M.M., 2002. Les effets socio-économiques de la mise en œuvre du Plan d'Action Forestier du Sénégal

Fall C.A.B et Niang.A., 2002. Evaluation des transferts de compétences aux collectivités locales en matière de gestion des ressources naturelles..

Kolda, R. 2001. Note technique sur l'aménagement participatif de la forêt de Saré Gardi.

Onobon. F.A. 2002. Mission d'appui à la révision de l'approche du PROGEDE en matière de développement institutionnel pour la gestion durable, participative et décentralisée des ressources forestières dans les régions de Tamba et de Kolda

Thiam. A.T. 2002. Rapport d'évaluation de l'évolution des acquis des projets forestiers terminés.

1 Forest engineer, Coordinator of Senegal's Forest Development Support Programme (PADF), Dakar, Senegal. [email protected]

2 PASCD: Senegalese-German Domestic Fuel Project