Farmer-managed natural regeneration enhances rural livelihoods in dryland West Africa

Peter Weston, Reaksmey Hong, Carolyn Kabore, Christian A Kull

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Declining agricultural productivity, land clearance and climate change are compounding the vulnerability of already marginal rural populations in West Africa. Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is an approach to arable land restoration and reforestation that seeks to reconcile sustained food production, conservation of soils, and protection of biodiversity. It involves selecting and protecting the most vigorous stems regrowing from live stumps of felled trees, pruning off all other stems, and pollarding the chosen stems to grow into straight trunks. Despite widespread enthusiasm and application of FMNR by environmental management and development projects, to date, no research has provided a measure of the aggregate livelihood impact of community adoption of FMNR. This paper places FMNR in the context of other agro-forestry initiatives, then seeks to quantify the value of livelihood outcomes of FMNR. We review published and unpublished evidence about the impacts of FMNR, and present a new case study that addresses gaps in the evidence-base. The case study focuses on a FMNR project in the district of Talensi in the semiarid Upper East Region in Ghana. The case study employs a social return on investment analysis, which identifies proxy financial values for non-economic as well as economic benefits. The results demonstrate income and agricultural benefits, but also show that asset creation, increased consumption of wild resources, health improvements, and psychosocial benefits created more value in FMNR-adopting households during the period of the study than increases in income and agricultural yields. (c) 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1402 - 1417
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Agroforestry
  • Farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR)
  • Ghana
  • Land restoration
  • Semi-arid
  • Social return on investment (SROI)
  • West Afrcia

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