Threshing of recently harvested millet in northern Burkina Faso. Photo: H. Sinare
Ecosystem services, livelihoods and resilience in Sahel
Here we sum up our insights on from our work on adaptation, innovation and the regreening of the Sahel region
Insights on ecosystem services, livelihoods and resilience are of particular importance in the Sahel region. This is a region where poverty is widespread and people depend strongly on the local landscape, primarily through rainfed agriculture and pastoralism. At the same time rainfall is low and highly variable with recurrent droughts.
Predictions for future climate change in the region are uncertain, and there are indications of a shorter rainy season and more intense rainfall events, making agriculture vulnerable. This makes the Sahel an important region for development interventions, often related to agriculture.
Research on where interventions suit best and how they should be designed is of key importance. This needs to be embedded in an understanding of the complexity and dynamics in people’s dependence on landscapes at different scales.
Here we sum up some of our insights from different projects:
1. Trees and shrubs are crucial for ecosystem services in Sahelian agricultural and pastoral landscapes, and they are integrated parts of the agricultural landscape
Densities of trees and shrubs have increased since severe droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, and management by local farmers has been important for this increase. However, the species composition in the landscape has changed, with a risk of ecosystem services losses.
2. Landscapes in the Sahel are multifunctional and provide multiple benefits for livelihoods
This must be considered in development interventions that can otherwise cause trade-offs. Local knowledge and priorities must therefore be included in designing interventions and methods to assess ecosystem services need to be developed to account for these benefits.
3. The institutional context is of key importance for improved management practices
Leadership at village level and decentralized control of natural resources management has been identified as key factors for improved management practices, for example for farmers to keep trees on their fields.
Research news | 2021-04-15
What a “safe and just” future for people and planet means
Leading social and natural scientists present an approach to define a “safe and just corridor" while addressing the limits of our planet
Research news | 2021-04-14
Exploring a sense of belonging and care
Vanessa Masterson reflects on why learning more about people’s attachment to places can bring about important change
Research news | 2021-04-12
Watch the Nobel Prize Summit science sessions
As part of the Nobel Prize Summit Our Planet, Our Future, two digital academic science sessions will be held 27-28 April. Watch them here
Research news | 2021-04-12
Six targets for a sustainable textile industry
Combining circular economy and planetary boundaries can pave the way for a sustainable transformation of the fashion industry
Research news | 2021-04-11
Uncovering the “who” and the “what” in sustainability
Centre researcher Andrea Downing on what it takes to achieve fair and just futures
Research news | 2021-04-01
Ensuring a thriving ocean economy for everyone
Webinar on the rapidly developing scientific and policy attention associated to the ocean. Watch it here