Action Against Desertification

Expanding Mauritania’s Great Green Wall

The country is winning restoration battles, one at a time, against degraded lands


With 18% of total degraded land, Mauritania is the Sahelian country with the second highest rate of land degradation. The country is especially affected by the encroachment of moving sand, with severe impacts on people and the environment. At the same time, it also has a very high restoration potential: 19.1 million hectares of land, which corresponds to almost 20% the total land area of the country.

Through the Boosting Restoration, Income, Development, Generating Ecosystem Services (BRIDGES) project, an initiative funded by the FAO Türkiye Forestry Partnership (FTFP) Program, FAO’s Action Against Desertification programme is investing in land restoration to reduce and reverse the adverse impacts of land degradation and desertification and increase the resilience of rural communities. Through land restoration, the development of income generating activities and capacity development, the project is working to improve the lives of 510 000 people that inhabit two of the country’s Wilayas (States): Brakna and Trarza, located in the southern part of the country and bordering Senegal.

In September 2022, a delegation from the Republic of Türkiye, accompanied by the AAD/BRIDGES team, visited some of the restoration sites and nurseries in Trarza for technical backstopping and witnessing progress on the realisations and the scale of challenges. The delegation observed various techniques and interventions used in the field ranging from sites fencing, enrichment planting, seed and seedling production.

The delegation also met with over 100 women from four villages who have been trained on restoration techniques on restoration seed collection and handling, direct sowing and seedling planting and income generation activities through wild fruits collection and vegetable gardening, as well as poultry farming.

During the field visit, Moctar Kelly, National Project Coordinator, reflected on what has been achieved so far: “We have been putting in place nine exclosures since 2019, including five in Trarza and four in Brakna.” says Kelly. “We have also been carrying out direct seeding, reforestation and dune fixation”.

Standing on the Jezira site, a 25-hectare plot with a particular high seed production potential of the native trees, Kelly adds “We have selected this site to train communities on seed collection so that they are able to collect and use their own restoration seeds”. The quality of restoration seeds is key to guarantee the long-term success of restoration. The production of high quantities of restoration seeds and development of national seed collection capacity is also crucial for the country to achieve its large-scale restoration targets in the framework of the Great Green Wall initiative.

The BRIDGES project is being implemented in close cooperation with local management communities in ten beneficiary villages. These management committees are set up for the protection, management and other activities carried out on each of the 16 restoration sites, under restoration so far, after being selected jointly with the National Agency for the Great Green Wall.

Kelly is very confident that the project will reach its restoration targets, generate solid impact on the ground and contribute to make the Great Green Wall a reality in the country. “Altogether, we have restored close to 2000 ha, and as such winning restoration battles, one at a time, against degraded lands in Mauritania” he concludes.