Establishing a Mangrove Restoration Strategy in Guinea-Bissau

Published: 12 December 2023
Last edited: 12 December 2023
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In Guinea-Bissau, The Restoration Initiative (TRI) has been working to establish policies that enhance the restoration of the country’s three mangrove ecosystems. The project has used participatory territorial diagnoses to identify restoration opportunities in each of the three regions and worked to improve Guinea-Bissau’s regulatory framework for mangrove restoration. As the diagnoses work to build local capacity and define priorities for the development of natural resource laws, TRI has also focused on developing proposals for a National Mangrove Law and National Mangrove Restoration Strategy, which will fill gaps and strengthen institutions in the country’s legal, regulatory, and legislative landscape. To date, TRI’s work has resulted in a second, and likely final, draft of the National Mangrove Law, which regulates the sustainable management of the country’s mangrove ecosystems, as well as a newly drafted National Mangrove Strategy, which outlines how the law will be implemented.  


West and Central Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Legal & policy frameworks
Land and Forest degradation
Ecosystem loss
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of food security
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience




The largest challenge that stakeholders promoting sustainable restoration practices as well as the Restoration Initiative face is consensus on the understanding of the law. If the relevant national institutions and governance structures do not hold consistent views of the policies, they will have difficulty moving forward. With each government agency holding its own issues at the highest importance, there needs to be consistency between them over how restoration is prioritized against their highest concerns.  


Additionally, political will amongst community members for restoration policies can present a challenge. As many individuals in mangrove ecosystems participate in rice production, restoration practices can be seen as hurting their income source. Garnering the will and understanding of how restoration can benefit local communities will be necessary to implement the policies successfully.  


The beneficiaries of the policy solutions are local communities living in the country’s three mangrove ecosystems. Regulating mangrove land use can provide for the sustainable development and restoration of these regions and protect livelihoods.  

How do the building blocks interact?

Together, the identification of restoration sites through participatory ROAM processes and the development of national mangrove restoration policies lead to a strengthened strategic and regulatory landscape in Guinea-Bissau that ultimately provides for the sustainable management of mangrove ecosystems. The ROAM processes provided information on village priorities and buffer zones in regard to rice production that was deeply considered in the elaboration of the National Mangrove Law and Strategy and allowed for a better understanding of how individual site processes will work under a greater national strategy. Including lessons learned through the ROAM processes, the formulation of the mangrove law and strategy enabled the various national and international stakeholders in mangrove ecosystems to provide technical information and assistance. With a policy development process that includes lessons from local communities as well as organizational partners, TRI ensures that the mangrove restoration strategic landscape can be sustainable and benefit all three targeted mangrove ecosystems. The developed policies will strengthen land-use policies in Guinea-Bissau as well as ultimately result in greater mangrove restoration.   


Overall, TRI’s project in Guinea-Bissau has resulted in an improved policy and regulatory framework for the restoration of mangrove ecosystems that will work to strengthen land-use practices and contribute to the ultimate goals of sustainable restoration practices. With a current lack of policies regulating mangrove ecosystems, one of the main barriers impacting restoration in these areas is unregulated agricultural practices, especially rice farming. The National Mangrove Law will provide regulation and normalize beneficial and sustainable production practices. Similarly, the National Mangrove Strategy will outline how to finance sustainable mangrove practices and ensure the law is successfully implemented. Together, the law and strategy will work together to enhance the restoration of mangrove ecosystems and productive landscapes by regulating mangrove land use as well as provide for the maintenance of restoration once the project is finished. Balancing the development needs of the three regions and the country’s restoration goals, the strengthened regulatory framework in Guinea-Bissau will facilitate the restoration of thousands of hectares of mangrove ecosystems.  



Women in Guinea-Bissau’s Elia Island, located on the right bank of the Cacheu River close to its mouth in the Atlantic Ocean, have been trained by The Restoration Initiative in growing oysters and with this training have been cultivating oysters for the past two years.  


The project team visited women in the village to check on the growth of the oysters. One of the women beneficiaries on the Island explained a technique introduced by The Restoration Initiative to meet their cultivation needs.  


Awa Sanha, a female beneficiary, said, “We no longer need to take a pirogue to collect wild water oysters; those we cultivate are on the edge of the village. The wild oysters are no longer as abundant as they were in the past, so we need to give them more time to recover”.  


The project is working with women in Elia to relieve women’s workload by enhancing their skills to work more efficiently while reducing pressure on the island’s natural resources.  

During the first year of the project, consultation with the women enabled them to define their priorities for income- generating activities:  

- rice huskers were deployed to save the effort of manual pounding;  

- fenced market gardens were equipped with wells,  

- women were trained in solar salt production, a less exhausting method that does not require cutting mangrove wood -unlike traditional production which is usually carried out by cooking brine,  

- women were also trained on oyster farming on lines;  

- women received support for the construction of improved stoves that reduce the wood needed for cooking in half, as well as received support to promote village ecotourism.  


Some of these activities contribute to domestic needs and the surplus is sold to generate income for women, usually in weekly markets located at a distance from the villages.  


In these mostly economically independent communities, the sale of vegetables, salt or oysters represents the only opportunity for women to make additional incomes, enabling them to access basic necessities and pay for their children’s school fees.

Contributed by

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Leah Bronstein IUCN