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Restoration and reclamation of mined-out areas and other degraded lands for biodiversity conservation and rural development in Burkina Faso: a chance for local people?


In Burkina Faso, gold mining has formed part of the national economy for several centuries. Since the late 1980s, in the aftermath of serious droughts that provoked great poverty, artisanal gold mining massively increased, and by 2009, gold has become the first export product. It is estimated that, regarding traditional mining, at least 700,000 people work in over 300 sites distributed across the entire country. The large-scale often long duration mining activities and the direct and indirect chemical, biological and physical consequences strongly affect the people living in and near these areas. Usually, the mine land belongs to local farmers who sometimes are re-settled, sometimes receive compensation payments, or are simply expulsed. Therefore mining causes a strong migration dynamic characterized by an inflow of temporary mining workers and an out migration of the traditional population. This dynamic may cause conflicts for the remaining land and put under pressure the existing social and economic networks. In view of the fact that in many African countries more than 80% of the population live in rural area and depend on agriculture for living, the drastically reduced arable land in combination with the migration may lead to accelerated degradation in areas surrounding the mines and in the long run, affect food safety due to decrease of agricultural productivity. Remarkably it is exactly these degraded landscapes left after mining that may present one of the few feasible opportunities for poor local people in Africa to establish sound livelihood systems. But to lead back post-mining areas into production for local well-being is a difficult and complex task from a technical, institutional and social point of view. Against this backdrop, this project intents to contribute to the design of effective strategies for the recuperation of degraded land and ecosystems in post-mining areas in Africa for the benefits of poor local farmers. This will be achieved by transdisciplinary research in Burkina Faso that involves local key actors in the development of land restoration/reclamation techniques and measures to set up an enabling institutional environment for local action. Specific aims include: (1) Assessing the extent of gold mining activities’ impacts on woodlands ecosystems, local livelihoods and the local social and economic networks ; (2) Exploring natural and societal potentials for restoring degraded sites and stabilizing local production systems; (3) Investigating economic and institutional context conditions for the stimulation of local restoration activities; and (4) Elaboration and discussion of technology and policy recommendations for restoring and reclaiming degraded sites for the benefits of the local population.




Dr. Sidzabda Djibril Dayamba (ICRAF)

Team: Dr. Sidzabda Djibril Dayamba, Prof. Dr. Benno Pokorny, Dr. Christian von Lübke,, Dr. Helga Dickow, Dr. Zacharia Gnankambary, Dr. Deborah Goffner, Dr. Louis Sawadogo, Dr. Patrice Savadogo
Funding: Volkswagen Foundation
Duration: 06/2013 – 05/2016

ICRAF (West-Africa), CIFOR (Burkina Faso), Arnold-Bergstraesser Institut, Bureau National des Sols (Burkina Faso), Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (Burkina Faso), Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris)






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