A Kop Ale no Maag olè (the Forest of the Sea) : Mangrove restoration project in Senegal

by Florian Bielser | 26 July 2021
Image A Kop Ale no Maag olè (the Forest of the Sea) : Mangrove restoration project in Senegal
In the context of the International Day for the Conservation of Mangrove Ecosystems on 26 July, IRHA is pleased to present its latest project in collaboration with Oceanium de Dakar which will start at the end of 2021 in the Sine Saloum estuary in central Senegal: "A Kop Ale no Maag Olè (the Forest of the Sea in Wolof). It will support during 24 months the communities of four estuarine villages located in the commune of Djilasse (Fatick, Senegal).

This initiative, supported by the AP Foundation, aims specifically to strengthen the resilience of the estuarine ecosystems of the Sine Saloum and its communities in the face of increasing risks linked to climate change, by strengthening the technical and management capacities of local actors in the field of ecosystem restoration.

In the Sine Saloum, the advance of salty land (tannes) is one of the main causes of the decline in vegetation cover (continental as well as estuarine - mangrove), land degradation and the salinisation of aquifers. The combination of drought episodes at the end of the 1970s/80s and population growth, which increased the anthropic pressure on natural resources, particularly on mangroves, have caused land salinisation, which dramatically accelerated since 2015.

Through a combined landscape approach based on mangrove restoration + natural resource management (especially soil and rainwater) and the reintroduction of agroforestry patches, the "A Kop Ale no Maag Olè" project aims to stop this vicious circle.

Mangroves represent a core aspect of the ecosystemic and socio-economic balance, both along the estuary and in the hinterland. As a biodiversity niche, a barrier against coastal erosion, land and aquifer salinisation, as well as a veritable carbon sink, mangroves provide unique and internationally recognised ecosystem services. Its restoration contributes in recovering the natural protective barrier in the estuary to limit land salinisation in the hinterland.

In addition to restoring the mangrove ecosystem, this project also promotes better management of natural resources, particularly rainwater, in order to reduce runoff and the loss of arable soil while consolidating ecosystems and aquifers. The restoration of freshwater levels in underground reserves will help lower salt levels and allow local producers to reuse their wells to irrigate off-season crops (market gardening, fruit growing, etc.).

Finally, agroforestry patches will provide communities with an important source of wood and fodder, thus relieving the depleted forest cover, while ensuring soil refertilisation, thus improving agricultural productivity and food security.
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