Ecosystem Restoration in Africa

In 2015, Both ENDS and 14 organisations from nine African countries gathered in Cameroon to compare notes, inspire each other, and answer some key questions about their efforts to restore forest ecosystems for the benefit of local communities.

The organisations are using a diversity of approaches, from nurturing natural tree regrowth in arid drought prone regions to carefully planning and planting (partially) man-made forests that mimic natural forests by composition and structure, known as analog forestry. What are the results of these different approaches? What can be learned from experiences with them?



The meeting built on a much longer conversation, while adding new insights. The organisations agreed that the time was ripe to join forces in a systematic, collective effort to experiment with analog forestry.

The African Analog Forestry Network was born. In collaboration with Both ENDS and the International Analog Forestry Network, the groups have developed a programme centred around pilot projects to restore ecosystems and improve livelihoods in diverse ecological settings. The network members will conduct rigorous research about the economic feasibility, and social and environmental impact of productive ecosystem restoration that provides a source of food and income for local people.

Support for product development and access to both local and international markets will be a key component of the programme, as will lobbying and advocacy to promote enabling policies, such as land use designs and designations that recognise that ‘nature’ and ‘farm’ can be one and the same.



Land and water governance in Sub-Sahara Africa

Who decides how land and water is used and distributed? Who benefits and who loses out? And what are the consequences for the environment? These are some of the key questions that Both ENDS has asked in different contexts and countries across the globe. And they are precisely the questions the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (known as PBL) wanted to ask in relation to large-scale agricultural development and natural resource management projects in Sub-Sahara Africa.

PBL is the Netherlands’ institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of the environment, nature, and spatial planning. It conducts research and collaborates with key European and international bodies, such as the environmental directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). To find the answers it was seeking in Africa, PBL deferred to the expertise of Both ENDS and its partners. As part of a programme on sustainable African food production systems, PBL commissioned Both ENDS to analyse the strategies of local and national governments, international and local companies, local populations and their representatives and civil society organisations in Sub Sahara Africa in distributing and trading land and water. The result, published in 2015, is Governance of land and water distribution for agricultural development and nature conservation in Africa, written by Both ENDS based on of 9 case studies complied by scientists and (local) experts working in the region.

The report describes the dilemmas faced by the respective governments to achieve economic development while simultaneously addressing acute problems of extreme poverty and undernourishment suffered by large segments of the population. The report also tells the story of ambitious foreign funded agricultural development and conservation projects situated in fragile ecosystems among traditional rural societies.

It describes strong national and international policies – on paper -, and the failure to implement these in practice, allowing companies and implementing agencies to often operate with little or no consideration for social and environmental regulations and safeguard policies. Nearly all cases involve massive expulsion of rural people to make room for large-scale, top-down projects. Based on a analysis of these cases the report concludes that by and large small farmers and forest dwelling communities – responsible for 90% of food production in Africa – hardly benefit from such projects.

Governance of land

The report points at the need for government, companies, and financiers to comply with mandatory and voluntary regulatory frameworks, key among them the principle of FPIC (Free Prior Informed Consent) and the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security. The report also signals the many opportunities which exist to steer investments, funding and support towards local farmers and other entrepreneurs in recognition of the key role they play or could play in generating food security, ecosystem management and restoration and creation of employment opportunities. Both ENDS discussed this and other important conclusions from the report in a presentation to PBL staff.

Land rights in Nicaragua

It doesn’t exist yet, but the threat of “El Canal” – a 260 kilometre canal through the heart of Nicaragua – is already wreaking havoc on farming and fishing communities, including indigenous people.

At a minimum, tens of thousands of people would have to be relocated for the canal, which is being financed by a Chinese investor. Legislation for the project was hastily approved by the Nicaraguan government, despite the fact that it clearly violates the Nicaraguan Constitution and the country’s indigenous and land rights laws.

In 2015, Both ENDS conducted a field trip to the region, meeting with Nicaraguan partners and communities to assess their needs and develop joint plans for raising awareness about land rights.

Thanks to the new Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA), a strategic partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Nicaraguan-based Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM), Both ENDS will be expanding its collaboration with Central American organisations.

Supporting communities that would be affected by the planned canal will be a top priority in the coming years.

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Both ENDS will collaborate with Nicaraguan partner POPOL NA, among others, to inform communities about their rights and to push for rigorous implementation of the right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). Both ENDS has already raised concerns about the planned project with the Dutch government and water sector companies, which are exploring business opportunities related to the canal.

An overview of our land related projects

This is a short overview of the titles, the funders and the project partners of land related projects Both ENDS worked on in 2015.

NAME OF PROGRAMME: Communities of Change

FINANCED BY: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS)


PROJECT PARTNERS: IBON-Europe (Belgium), Probioma (Bolivia), CENDEP (Cameroon), IAFN, ARCA (Central America), Development Institute (Ghana), The Tree Project (Honduras), Keystone (India), YMI, JMHI/Riak Bumi (Indonesia), KOAN (Kenya), SPRODETA (Mali), AgriProFocus, SNV, Hivos, Oxfam Novib (the Netherlands), IBON, NTFP-EP, NTFP Philippines Samdhana, (Philippines), Rainforest Rescue International (South Asia), LEAT (Tanzania), NAPE (Uganda), Forest Peoples Programme (UK), Zambia Land Alliance (Zambia).


FINANCED BY: Cordaid (part of CoC Alliance), Anton Jurgens Fonds, ING Goede doelen fonds, Koningsschool

PROJECT PARTNERS / NETWORKS: IAFN (International), Cendep (Cameroon), Keystone (India), NTFP-EP (Philippines), JMHI (Indonesia), NTFP-EP (Asia) Rainforest Rescue International (South Asia).

DUTCH PROJECT PARTNERS: Sustainsville, Landgoed Welna, Food Forestry Netherlands, Landgoed Roggebotstaete, Circle Ecology, Bushwick.


NAME OF NETWORK: ‘Drynet: a springboard to promote resilience in the drylands’

FINANCED BY: Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation,

PROJECT PARTNERS: Probioma (Bolivia), CAREC (Central Asia), OLCA (Chile), CARI (France), LPPS (India), CENESTA (Iran), GRET (Madagascar), GCOZA Mali (Mali), TENMIYA (Mauritania), DCG (Norway), SCOPE (Pakistan), ENDA (Senegal), EMG (South Africa), TEMA (Turkey).

NAME OF PROJECT: The Dutch Soy Coalition

SUPPORTED BY: Both ENDS, IUCN NL, Milieudefensie, Oxfam Novib, Solidaridad, Stichting Natuur & Milieu, Wetlands International, WWF Netherlands,

PROJECT PARTNERS: Among others: ICV (Brazil), FARN, Fundación Pro Yungas, Fundación Humedales, (Argentina), Probioma (Bolivia), Guyra Paraguay (Paraguay).


NAME OF PROJECT: Assessing the socio-economic implications of industrial biofuel plantations

FINANCED BY: NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development

PROJECT PARTNERS: Africad, University of British Columbia (Canada), Hoarec, Institute of Local and Regional Development Studies, Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, RECA (Ghana).

NAME OF PROJECT: Regreening Niger

FINANCED BY: Turing Foundation

PROJECT PARTNERS: VU-CIS (Nederland), Cresa (Niger).

NAME OF PROJECT: Participatory Land Use Planning in Indonesia

FINANCED BY: Stichting Otterfonds


NAME OF PROJECT: Ethiopia Rising (documentary)

FINANCED BY: Liberty Foundation (among others)

PROJECT PARTNERS: 1080 films (UK), WRI (international).