Addressing resource degradation to enhance climate change resilience

IUCN Radhika Murti
Published: 23 October 2015
Last edited: 02 October 2020
remove_red_eye 6986 Views


The Saloum Delta Biosphere Reserve in Senegal experiences a trend of plant resource degradation. The use of fuelwood, agricultural encroachment and land salinization are increasing people’s vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change (drought and floods). The IUCN Ecosystems Protecting Infrastructure and Communities (EPIC) project, is using local knowledge to reforest areas, restore degraded lands and regulate natural resource use in the protected area.


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Freshwater ecosystems
Temperate deciduous forest
Wetland (swamp, marsh, peatland)
Access and benefit sharing
Ecosystem services
Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Indigenous people
Legal & policy frameworks
Local actors
Other theme
food security and gender mainstreaming
Tsunami/tidal wave
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Infrastructure development
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of food security
Unemployment / poverty


Nationalpark Delta du Saloum Parc, Senegal
Show on Protected Planet


agricultural encroachment, climate change and natural resources degradation In the Delta, most people rely on farming, rearing, fishery, tourism or salt extraction as source of food and income. Drought, floods and erosion - increasing with climate change - are threatening these activities and leaving people vulnerable to further changes. Poverty and food insecurity are exacerbated by natural resources degradation due to agricultural encroachment, or soil salinization.


6 villages, including farmers, market gardeners, pastoralists and fishermen, men and women, village committees and Djilor’s city council

How do the building blocks interact?

All building blocks are closely related to the solution of “using assisted natural regeneration (ANR) and endogenous techniques to enhance climate change resilience”. Indeed, 1) Endogenous techniques need to be identified though a participatory process (Building blocks #1); 2) Communities capacities should be developed in order to ensure correct use of techniques (Building blocks #2); 3) Monitoring and evaluation work is important to receive scientific evidence regarding successes or failures of these techniques (Building blocks #3); 4) Create tools to share information and knowledge learned in the process from local to national level is important for influencing policy and decision-makers (Building blocks #4); Help communities to diversify their livelihoods is key for being able to tackle an immediate problem they have to face (in our case the use of wood as fuel).


EPIC is improving biological recovery in the Delta using local knowledge and practices. The “Assisted Natural Regeneration” technique has restored 130 ha of forest within the 6 villages in 2014 to improve soil quality. Moreover, up to 180 ha of land are being restored through a participatory process by construction of 59 anti-salt bunds with local materials. This will, on the one hand, eliminate the cause of salinity and, on the other, retain freshwater ultimately leading to improved soil fertility and increased yields up to about 40%. In 2014, around 100 stakeholders were trained on the “Assisted Natural Regeneration” and anti-salt bunds techniques as well as the establishment and maintenance of tree nurseries. Further impacts are expected in the future, as participatory approaches for restoring the PA enhance knowledge and adaptive capacities of rural communities. They also promote a diverse range of co-benefits, thus increasing the cost effectiveness of activities. In total, nearly 20,000 farmers, market gardeners, pastoralists and fishermen will be affected by the project activities, equal to almost 70% of the total population of the municipality of Djilor


A traditional technique of anti-salt bunds (called “Facine”) from Senegal “My name is Songdé DIOUF from the village of Péthie in the municipality of Djilor, department of Foundiougne. I am a farmer and well-digger, a job that I inherited from my father. I am one of the precursors of the practice of “facine” in my village that is facing both gullies due to heavy rains in the last years and the progress of salinization that destroys our fields by making them infertile. The “facine” is an endogenous technique traditionally used for fishing in estuaries to trap small fish that inhabit the “bolongs” (small tributary) or estuaries surrounding our village. These are small structures built from local materials made of branches and wild herbs. This local technique has several functions as it can reduce water erosion -so the gullies- and the progress of salinization and helps recharge groundwater. Following proven effective results, several other villages in the municipality of Djilor joined us to experiment this simple and most importantly cheap technique as compared to hydro-agricultural structures, especially anti-salt dams whose construction requires tens of millions CFA. In the short term, the development of this technique will allow us to reduce the progress of salinization and gullies while promoting reforestation of our agroforestry systems. Consequently, it will positively impact our yields and hence food security. Today, it looks like we are facing a new destiny due to climatic disturbances. Our ancestors who had migrated after the dispersion of the Empire Gabou to settle in this central area of Senegal had been attracted by the richness and abundance of natural resources. Now that these resources have declined, I think that we need to use our indigenous knowledge to preserve the foundation of our ancient culture.”

Contributed by

Radhika.MURTI_38450's picture

Radhika Murti

Other contributors

El Hadji Ballé Seye
Regional Parlementary programme. IUCN Senegal
Camille Buyck
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)