UNCCD-COP15: Monitoring Tree Cover and Enhancing Decision Making Tools Across Africa’s Great Green Wall

Join us for an open space for a reflection and exchange on a new dataset,  developed by WRI,  to monitor regreening efforts, and its applications in the Sahel.

In the drylands of Africa, land degradation threatens the livelihoods of millions of people. Fortunately, there are promising initiatives emerging all over the continent that are turning the tide. Throughout the Sahel, for example, vast tracts of land along the Great Green Wall have been restored by local communities. They have nurtured the plants that spontaneously spring from the soil, protecting young sprouts from cattle and other hazards.

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Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration

Through these Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) or Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) approaches, people help nature recover by letting the dormant but still active 'underground forest' of roots, stumps and seeds come back. In the Maradi and Zinder Regions of Niger, this practice of community-driven restoration efforts has led to the restoration of significant areas of land over the last three decades.

Lack of data

But there is a major problem identified by the UNCCD: unlike in dense forests around the world, satellites have had trouble pinpointing where those trees are coming back across the Sahel's drylands and open-canopy forests. The lack of scalable, robust monitoring data has led to the drastic underreporting of the impressive community-led restoration and anti-desertification efforts undertaken across the Great Green Wall countries.

Other ways to collect data

To fill this gap, World Resources Institute (WRI) is piloting a new dataset, trees in mosaic landscapes, that shows in great detail all of the trees that undervalued and underfunded local communities are working to protect and restore within valuable ecosystems. Other efforts, like Regreening Africa, are collecting data straight from the field using new online applications. In combination, approaches like these have the opportunity to provide robust proof of progress, giving farmers and pastoralists credit for their hard work and ensuring that community-driven restoration efforts are recognized and supported more strongly in international policy debates. Likewise, they can improve the monitoring and effectiveness of restoration activities across the Great Green Wall and AFR100 countries.


Despite this promising opportunity, there are still a number of challenges and unanswered questions related to this new dataset and its applications in the Sahel:

  • What are the current limits and future prospects of using satellite imagery to monitor early restoration successes? How do we align clashing definitions across datasets?
  • How can field-collected data complement or validate satellite imagery?
  • How can the inclusion of those spearheading restoration activities be ensured in the development, use, and dissemination of tree cover data?
  • And how can countries build strong systems to systematically monitor the overall progress of restoration efforts?


  • Dr Paul OUEDRAEGO, CILSS (Tbc)
  • M. Nabil BEN KHATRA, OSS ES (Tbc)
  • Abakar Mahamat ZOUGOULOU, PAGGW
  • Col Major Yaocuba Seybou - Niger Minister of Environment
  • John Brandt, World Resources Institute
  • Ndeye Fatou MAR, Sahel and Sahara Observatory
  • Pierre Omer Ouedraogo, SPONG
  • Mamane Amina Tidjani, INRAN/CRESA

Moderator: Salima Mahamoudou, World Resources Institute