Developing Capacity for Community Forestry in Casamance
A report on the Concern Universal community forest project in Casamance, Senegal.
FINAL REPORT Developing Capacity for Community Forestry in Casamance Prepared by Concern Universal the Gambia and Senegal, December 2012 â€œBefore, people didnâ€™t trust one another but this project has brought unity, especially amongst womenfolk. People before were cutting trees and taking things from the forest who were not from the community, but this community forest has given us the opportunity to protect the forest resources for the people who live here so we can live from it and benefit from its resources.â€? Jonkunda Ceesay (Kioudoube Community Forest Committee and community resident) 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents ....................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Acronyms ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Introduction ................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 Project Activities, Results and Deliverables .................................................................................................................... 6 Activities subsequently undertaken by the residents of the participating villages ............................. 12 Contribution to national FLEGT objectives .................................................................................................................. 13 Partnerships ............................................................................................................................................................................. 14 Lessons learned ....................................................................................................................................................................... 14 Project hand over.................................................................................................................................................................... 16 Evaluation .................................................................................................................................................................................. 17 ACRONYMS CU –Concern Universal FLEGT – Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Support Programme FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization EC – European Commission ASAPID – Association d’Appui À l’iniative de Développement CFCs – Community Forest Committees 3 INTRODUCTION The crisis in Casamance is the longest running conflict in Africa; its trend of fighting is described as a ‘No War and No Peace’ situation. The conflict has severely hampered development opportunities for livelihoods, and people have been restricted in their movements (particularly women) and so have not been able to undertake traditional means of existence. As a result, the people living in the forests of Casamance have been cornered into a situation of exploiting the very resources that they depend on, in order to eke out an income through charcoal production and timber. The situation has been worsened by the involvement of both rebel and military forces (fuelled by market demand for timber in the Gambia) in the illegal timber trade. This combination of factors is causing severe desertification in many parts of Casamance, and aside from the destruction of this endangered ecosystem, is impacting on the general population, many of whom depend on the forests for their sources of food, medicines and building materials. In Kataba-un district, where the Kioudoube Community Forest resides, the forest is approximately 22,820 hectares. The density of its cover has been severely depleted and its rejuvenation capacity damaged. At the start of the project the villages in the area surrounding the Kioudoube Community Forest had poor capacity to regulate illegal logging and sustainably manage the resources available to them in the forest. Heightened tensions between the different villages as a result of the conflict meant that they lacked viable means to combat and stop the trend of deforestation. This pilot project has encouraged and supported, though capacity building, technical training and wider awareness raising, the uptake of the legal rights of self-identified communities to ownership and management of an area of forest that they depend on, in order to enable them to take control and ensure sustainable use of their forests resources now and for future generations to come. Concern Universal’s local partner, ASAPID, was instrumental in the coordination of project activities. Four villages have come together in a concerted manner to identify, own and manage community forests for themselves and their future generations. They are conscious of the need to control illegal logging and of the economic benefits that can be derived from the forest if they are properly managed and the resources well protected. The custodians of the Koudioube Community Forest understand and have established a business development plan for the sale of forest products. This, and other communities, has taken active steps in reforestation of heavily deforested areas. They have done so through voluntary tree planting exercises inside the Koudioube community forest, including: 1800 Mahogany, 1000 Eucalyptus, 3500 Cashew, 290 Rhun palm and 100 Kabba. Residents of the community are also making cash contributions toward the digging of a well to assist the establishment of tree nurseries and are growing trees individually in backyards whilst the community waits for sufficient resources to develop larger nurseries; they are actively involved in monitoring the forest through forest watch committees. A Community Forest Committee is recognized widely, and members understand their role as guardians and custodians of the community forest. Both local authorities and many Mouvement des forces démocratiques de Casamance (MFDC) group members are now supportive of the community forest concept as they have realized how fast and dangerously the region’s ecology is being ruined, and accelerated by the conflict. This is evident from the fact that MFDC members participated in meetings and have stopped felling trees in the conservation area. There is greater awareness in the wider region about community forest management and preservation, and the uptake of the legal right to ‘community owned forests’ is supported by local government. Media and radio personnel, and female traditional village drama communicators, are equipped with knowledge on forest laws and the dangers of deforestation for their own information dissemination. Other communities in the region are known to now be positively talking about the project, and other villages are in fact approaching the pilot project, hoping to be involved. 4 An additional, and extremely positive, outcome of this pilot project has been the reconciliation and peace-building that has taken place between the villages involved, as well as other surrounding villages who have heard of the project and wanted to learn more. Villages within relatively short distances of each other had not been communicating with each other as a result of the years of conflict and division in Casamance and a sense of community had been lost, but by the end of the project, the four villages specifically involved in the project, as well as six other villages have been brought together in a united effort to protect the forests that they depend on and actively speak of the development of community spirit that has come about. â€œI cannot find the words to express my happiness. Years ago it was difficult to bring people together. But today we have this group and look how many of us are here together! I hope that this will spread to other areas because if it does, surely peace will come to Casamance. This forest has many resources and we must and we will protect them for future generations.â€? Fatu, a Kaneelayng traditional Jola (tribe) song, theatre and dance communicators. 5 PROJECT ACTIVITIES, RESULTS AND DELIVERABLES Inception meeting: A meeting was convened to present the inception report to the stakeholders of the project and to review the various activities planned, the approach for implementation of project activities, responsibilities and the timeline for activities. The meeting also sought feedback from participants who included: Gambia FAO representative; an EC representative; Director of the Gambia Forestry Department; the West Coast Region Divisional Forestry Officer (which borders with Senegal); Concern Universal; and the implementing partner ASAPID. Project launch: The implementation of the FLEGT pilot project began with a project launch on 23rd January 2012, attended by 170 participants. Attendees included representatives of the four participant villages - Klobori, Mahmouda, Madina and Koudioube (hereafter referred to as ‘the community’) -, staff of ASAPID, municipal authorities (including the Mayor of the regional capital of Diouloulou) and representatives of technical departments concerned with forestry matters in Casamance. Members of civil society groups from the region also participated. The Senegalese local authority in the region, which through the decentralised government of Senegal, is sanctioned to implement laws governing the region, was also represented, as were women’s group leaders and youth group representatives. The launch was used as an opportunity to increase the awareness of all participants about the need to conserve the region’s forests. Local participants confirmed that the project was being launched at a time when a large proportion of the forest areas in Casamance has fallen into the illegal logging ‘cycle’ which has and will continue to have serious effects on the growing population if unchecked. Attendees highlighted the need to enforce the laws against illegal logging of the forests. Selection of Kioudoube Community Forest Committee (CFC): ASAPID met with members of the community to assist them in selecting members of the CFC. The meeting was also attended by Kanyeeleng (traditional communicators) and radio personnel, who were briefed on the important roles they could play in the publicity and awareness raising of the protected forest area. The selection process of the CFC was transparent and based on trust and merit. Two members were selected from each of the four villages, and four others were selected from satellite villages close to the forest area, to ensure cohesive coordination and monitoring of the forest. The CFC has played a very active role in mobilizing the community, and members have become inspirational figures, encouraging other villages in their ambitions to organize similar community forests. They are very committed to the sustainability of the work that has been done by the community so far, and have pledged to continue to mobilize other villages and support them, even in the absence of funding. Their success is shown in the fact that in the 12 months since the forest was demarcated, not a single tree MEMBERS OF KIOUDOUBE COMMUNITY FOREST COMMITEE within its boundaries has been felled. 6 â€œIt is not by chance that this project came now. I am so happy! But I am not yet 100% happy!! What I want is to see the work continue to inspire other areas who can achieve this and I hope we can find funding for them. I hope people will continue to protect this forest area. We are born in this forest, we live from this forest, and so we must protect this forest. We must treat it like our child and nurture and protect it as it protects us. I especially want to thank the women who have done so much of the work; they have been very important and have been very courageous.â€? Bachary, the Kioudoube Community Forest Committee President. 7 Kioudoube Community Forest Mapping: Community Forest demarcation and a resource assessment took place over five days. 20 participants took part in the exercise, working in the forest to measure out the Kioudoube Community Forest area and also to assess the forest’s condition. These activities were important steps towards the development and establishment of one year and five year management plans. Members of the community took the lead in this exercise by guiding the external support team as to where to start in the forest, and the different points of importance to observe in the Koudioube Community Forest. The participants drew a transit map which was used during the assessment of the Community Forest. MAPPING THE FOREST Changes Observed Since Original Mapping: During an evaluation workshop in December 2012, members of the community were asked to describe some of the changes in the forest in the past year. As well as many general observations that the density of the forest was much greater and that there were more animals and plants, specific local species were identified as being much more abundant than just a year ago. It was observed by the participants that although they had known that the condition of the forest was improving, it wasn’t until the rainy season came that they really realized the true extent of what they had achieved, and the flourishing of the forest occurred. “There are more wild animals coming back. Before to see monkeys in a group was very lucky but now you see them many times! Also we now see Wolow (a type of bird), Petie (small antelope) too and also bush pigs [from description these are likely to be warthogs]. There are more fruit on the trees, which we saw the reward of especially after the rainy season. Fruits are Kabba, Follay, neto, tallow, cositow.” “There are also more medicine plants. We are proud of these good changes. Now people know that the forest is our treasury. It is like the public treasury where we can get our resources.” When we enter the forest I am proud to see the big trees like Fromash, I never thought I would see these big trees, what was impossible before isTHE nowFINAL possible.” MAP OF THE KIOUDOUBE FOREST “Bush fires used to destroy all the medicine plants before they could grow so they were only available in the rainy season. Now they are protected they are there all the time. Medicines plants that we need that have come back are Samfito (good for pregnancies), Konkutumamding (also good for pregnancy), Sinjalo, Djambakatang, Kaidien. Before it was a problem getting medicines we had to use palm bark but now all these plants are returned.” 8 Community Forest Management Training: A capacity building training workshop intended for 20 participants on community forest management was organized in April 2012.The training focused on enhancing the functioning of the newly formed Kioudoube Community Forest Committee. Participants were mainly drawn from the participating community, but as a result of the excellent awareness raising campaign, other villages also wanted to take part meaning that, in the end, 45 people actually participated – this has good implications for both the sustainability of the Kioudoube Forest, and also for the readiness for scale-up of the concept to other areas. Because of some of the technical aspects of the training, it was less participatory than normal approaches and took the form of presentation and discussions. The workshop was also attended by the Regional Forestry Officer in Diouloulou. Marketing Management and Development training: Marketing Management and Development training took place in May 2012. Again, 45 participants (27 women and 18 men) from the community, as well as some other interested villages attended. Outcomes of Marketing Management The training included conducting a detailed and Development training: participatory analysis of the forest products which Increased awareness about achieving more could be used by the community for generating sustainable management of their forest income. The exercise showed a rich diversity in the resources; products and high potential for sustaining and The community has developed new increasing income generation by the community if strategies for marketing their forest the forest were protected. products in a collective and responsible way The training highlighted for the participants the linkages’ between forest conservation and business opportunities within the area, and raised awareness about how to responsibly manage their forest and its resources. A SWOT analysis was also conducted. in order to maximize profit. The establishment of market committees with plans to assist with more effective and efficient marketing of the forest products on behalf of the community. 9 Agro forestry training: An agro-forestry workshop was arranged to build the capacity of the Forest Committee and the community to sustainably manage their forest resources without causing its depletion. The methodology used included the application of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) techniques, Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) and Objective Oriented Project Planning (OOPP) elements, all chosen to strengthen the skills of the community. The workshop lasted three days and was held at the village Bantaba, bringing together 36 participants, both men and women (18 women and 18 men) and helping to equip participants with the skills to: Increase and improve yields on food production and food storage from the forest; Safeguard local energy supplies, e.g. woodlots in order to preserve the forest; Future sustainable production of a variety of raw materials for farmers and/or industrial use; Protect and improve the production potentials whilst increasing the ecological capacity of the forest. The training has: Increased the capacity of the participating and surrounding communities to implement management systems and good practices in maintaining forests and forest resources; Motivated the community to establish nurseries in the forest and begin planting trees. In the participating community, 1800 Mahogany, 1000 Eucalyptus, 3500 Cashew, 290 Rhun palm and 100 Kabba have been planted. Also inspire women from other communities to grow small nurseries. It isn’t known how many nursery plants have been grown by other communities but continued communication between ASAPID and these villages will monitor their progress. “I am from another village and we want to have the same kind of community protected forest. The women in my village have even started doing our own nurseries to try to support the project.” Yamma Business Development Plan: A business development planning session took place in July 2012. 45 people participated (28 women and 17 men) building their knowledge and skills to improve the marketing of forest products. The group developed a business plan for the stages of development of the forest and includes: The identification of sites for reforestation on the overall forest area; Planting of Rhun and Palm trees; Information, Education and Communication with the community; Gathered historical information linked to the preservation of Koudioube Community Forest Selection of a variety of forest tree and plants for future reforestation exercises. Community members are beginning implement this plan and to date: to Cash contributions are being made by the community toward the digging of a local well for the establishment of plant nurseries; Plants are being grown individually in backyards whilst the community waits for sufficient resources to develop larger nurseries; Forest watch committees are now actively involved in monitoring the forest. 10 Media planning meeting: As a result of this training, media and radio personnel, as well as Kanyeelang (female traditional communicators), are equipped with knowledge on forest laws and the dangers of deforestation, for their own dissemination of information. Both groups have been instrumental in the dissemination of information to communities at a wider scope. Kanyeeleng (who are mainly women) were particularly important for the project as they are a unique group that share messages through song and theatricals, and are greatly trusted and respected within society. It was observed by community members during the evaluation process that the start-up of this project was difficult, because many were, largely as a result of the ongoing conflict of the region, distrustful of an initiative which appeared to want to restrict access to parts of the forest. Those who were using the forest for their individual benefits through illegal logging, as well as cattle owners who wanted places to graze their cattle, were extremely resistant, to the extent that some were even lobbying people from the villages to boycott the project. In addition to the encouragement of the Kanyeelang, a series of successful radio talk-back programmes were held which in which a large number of people participated and shared and resolved some of the doubts that were initially being expressed about community forest management and preservation. In addition, it was revealed that many people expressed doubts about the likely success of the project because they did not see how communities could be brought together effectively. The Kaneeylang were crucial in addressing this doubt, disseminating relevant messages about community forest management and preservation. A sense of community ownership of the forests has been strengthened and people now understand that the forests truly and legally, with the backing of the law, belong to the community, and that they will in years be able to enjoy the benefits if a concerted effort is made now. The success of involving media actors to disseminate information about the concept of community forests has led to other communities in the region (outside of those involved in the project) positively talking about the project, to the extent that, as previously mentioned, other villages are approaching the project, hoping to be involved. Village sensitization: Village sensitization activities were carried out to discuss with village residents their roles in the protection of the forest and its resources, and how they could help in the promotion of the initiative. House-to-house meetings took place and Kaneeyleng used local songs to transmit GROUP OF KANEEYLANG messages about the need to protect the forest and to reject illegal logging. The technique of using these traditional communicators enabled the project to reach a wider area of the district around 25 villages (about 1960 people) - and proved very effective and efficient as it reached people who might not attend workshops or community meetings. Other sensitization activities were held in the four villages linked to the Koudioube Community Forest. Step-down training was carried out in which 120 people (exact gender breakdown not known, but the majority of participants were women) participated between the months of May and April 2012, on various aspects of forest protection and conservation. 11 Community members are now vigilant about the care and protection of their forest and forest resources. There is a marked change in attitudes about forest conservation and a strong community commitment to preserving the forest, as was demonstrated by many of the comments made by members of the community in the evaluation activities, for example as one of the elders emphasized: “If there is a fire, should the men wait for the women or should the women wait for the men? No, it is a community forest and so the whole community should act. If anyone breaks the rules, they should be held to account in order to prevent more selfish people from coming into the forest to destroy it. They should be an example. The training has been completed and we made the rules for the forest, so we must see that the rules are followed.” Project visibility: Radio talkback programmes in the FM Radio at Diouloulou were conducted by the radio staff, the forestry officer, ASAPID representative and the Kioudoube Community Forest Committee promoting and increasing awareness and visibility of FLEGT actions in the project. Posters were displayed in many public places including government offices, car parks, the market and school premises. In addition, Concern Universal issued a press release picked up by four national newspapers in The Gambia. The community and ASAPID also carried out a distribution of Flyers in the four village communities and beyond. The community was also very proud to erect Signboards marking the four corners of the Kioudoube Community Forest and indicating the activities prohibited within its boundaries. The main objective of the visibility component of the project was to create greater awareness in the wider region about community forest management and preservation, and the project’s success in this is demonstrated by the fact that villages outside of those involved in the project are positively talking about the project and approaching the project, hoping to be involved. Specific individuals who heard about the project on the radio and through the Kaneeylang also attended some of the training events as additional participants, in order to learn more and take the information back to their own villages. ACTIVITIES SUBSEQUENTLY UNDERTAKEN BY THE RESIDENTS OF THE PARTICIPATING VILLAGES Tree planting: The participants in the project, particularly the women of the villages involved, raised small plant nurseries in their own compound backyards. These seedlings will be transplanted to the forest during the rainy season. This is more sustainable and more cost effective than buying seedlings from elsewhere. Tree planting took place in the Koudioube Community Forest on the 2nd August 2012 during which over 1500 different plant seedlings were transplanted by the community as part of their own effort in CU COUNTRY DIRECTOR TAKING PART IN TREE PLANTING EXERCISE 12 the rejuvenation of the lost plant species. Creation of a fire belt: In the first week of December 2012, as the effects of the dry season started to encroach on the forest, the community undertook to clear a fire belt around the protected area to prevent any bush fires from spreading. Both men and women took part. Forest visit and monitoring: The villages have identified amongst the trained committee members, an eight member subcommittee comprising six men and two women, to carry out a weekly monitoring visit around the Kioudoube Community Forest to inspect and ensure that no one is engaged in any form of CREATING A FIRE BELT prohibited activity in the protected area. There ratio of men to women is higher, as the exercise will involve long travel to and around the perimeters of the forest on foot as there is no means of transportation and the community felt that this was an additional burden for the women. CONTRIBUTION TO NATIONAL FLEGT OBJECTIVE S Within the small area covered by the pilot project CUâ€™s partner, ASAPID, has been supporting the participating community to uphold the FLEGT principles through provision of technical support to stakeholders, planting of indigenous trees, and creation of a forest committee to disseminate information, education and communication about the economic and ecological values of the forest in order to encourage its protection. Senegal is not yet fully integrated into the FLEGT programme, so this pilot is of particular importance in highlighting the need and potential impact that could be generated by its full inclusion. The positive and passionate engagement of all the stakeholders who have participated in the pilot project has shown the readiness of local partners and communities to embrace more formal regulations around forest management and governance in the region, and the requests from villages outside of the pilot project to replicate activities in their areas further support this assertion. The engagement of the Mouvement des forces DĂŠmocratiques de Casamance, (MFDC) has been a major success, not only for forest protection, but also in giving communities the confidence that the initiative can succeed. It demonstrates the positive impact of the projectâ€™s knowledge dissemination activities. All of the larger stakeholders of this project have recognized the importance and need for the initiative; they committed themselves to helping the communities involved to carry out the pilot project for the twelve month period and have done so. The Department of Forestry in Diouloulou (the government body responsible for the monitoring and protection of the forest and its resources), with limited support from their Gambia counterparts, played a crucial role in the implementation process through the exchange of knowledge, ideas, skills and experiences. This gesture has further encouraged other communities that they have started sending requests ASAPID for a replication of the FLEGT project in their own areas. 13 PARTNERSHIPS The Department of Forestry in The Gambia: unfortunately the involvement of the Gambian Department of Forestry has not been as extensive as hoped for. Lengthy internal bureaucratic processes involved in trying to facilitate the participation of members of the department in travelling to Casamance meant that it wasn’t possible for them to attend a number of activities. However, where possible members of staff were able to take part in training activities as resource people. Local authorities in the Communauté Rural of Kataba Un: ASAPID is a member of the Conseil rurale, the district administrative office, and through this, the district authorities are linked to the project. The Department of Forestry and the Environment in Diouloulou Casamance. ASAPID has also developed links with: School authorities in the area: the president of the Conseil Rurale is a member of ASAPID and is also the headmaster of the school. The activities of the project have been closely followed by the schools as a result, and children in the schools are aware of the messages being delivered by the project about the forest and its upkeep. Other civil servants in Diouloulou including the authorities at the Diouloulou Municipality. LESSONS LEARNED Creating an environment that enabled the villages involved to lead this forest protection project was of vital importance to its success, particularly within the context of the Casamance. The years of conflict have made it difficult for people to trust each other, but by bringing villages together to achieve a common goal, this project has accomplished a very natural process of reconciliation and peace building. This was of enormous importance to all participants, and this was expressed very passionately and repeatedly during a 3 day evaluation visit in December 2012. This outcome was felt to be of so much significance that many of the participants also felt that a scale-up of the initiative could have very positive outcomes for the attempts to attain peace in the Casamance. It is extremely important in a potential conflict environment to communicate in advance with both sides of those involved in the conflict before organizing activities. By doing this the project was able to ensure that activities were able to take place without being disturbed or halted. It has also enabled the parties on both sides to participate and be engaged in the activities, which contributes to the sustainability of the project and has certainly helped to achieve the peace building outcomes that have been observed. The desire and readiness for this type of community initiative, and for sustainable forest management at the community level, is more widespread in the Casamance area than anticipated in the scope of this pilot project. The relevance and popularity of the approach has been demonstrated by the fact that other communities not directly targeted by this project have learned about the project and its objectives, asked to attend training sessions, and have started to discuss their own needs relating to protecting the forest in their area. They have approached CU (through ASAPID) to ask for assistance in this. Using a combination of more modern with traditional means of communication is very effective. The Kaneeylang were very powerful tools for the dissemination of messages and are well respected and listened to by the communities. They are present at naming, circumcision, and other village ceremonies for example, where large gatherings of people can listen to their messages. Concern Universal will work closely with Kaneeylang in the future in other projects. Young people want to be involved – in any future scale-up to other areas; they will be more closely involved from the start of the project. In general, women better appreciated and understood the impact of protecting the forest than their men-folk, and are therefore key stakeholders in community forest conservation. As Yamma, 14 who came from another village and was very keen on her community taking a similar approach to the forest said “There are many more women here and there is a reason for this. Everywhere in the world in this kind of situation it is women who suffer most. And it is women who bear the burden. This is why women are so interested in making this succeed because they know that it is important for their families and the future. I am from another village and we want to have the same kind of community protected forest. The women in my village have even started doing our own nurseries to try to start a project.” Indeed it was observed that at the evaluation meeting, despite the busy time of year for them, there were many women present and it was often women who spoke most emphatically about the project. Actions taken to share the lessons learned with other stakeholders The project launch was planned for 80 participants, but in fact 170 people came to hear about the initiative! Interest in learning about what has been achieved has been there from the start, and the project has provided many opportunities for exchange between stakeholders. The mapping exercise reports were of course shared with the villages connected to the Kioudoube Community Forest but in addition to this, they were shared with the Departments of Forestry in The Gambia and Senegal, and the Ministry of the Environment. The findings have also been shared with the Cross-border Committees – made up of representatives from Casamance and The Gambia interested in protecting the forests (their main focus is tree planting on both sides of the border) and working towards the free movement of peoples and goods. News broadcasts on the radio have been instrumental in spreading information about project activities and achievements to a wider audience. Media personnel were involved from the launch meeting and helped to spread awareness of the project from the very beginning, even attending the evaluation meeting. The groups targeted for information sharing were: Other communities Local authorities (Communaute Rurale) Staff of Forestry Departments in Casamance and The Gambia MFDC rebel representatives, Constraints: Little is being done to stop the illicit timber trade from the Gambian side of the border and unfortunately the project partners found it difficult to engage with the Gambian Forest authorities. Villagers want to establish small tree nurseries by themselves but are constrained by the lack of an adequate water supply – they are attempting to resolve this by pooling together a community fund to dig a small well within the protected forest area, but as they only have limited resources, this is likely to take some time. 15 CFCs need at least two bicycles for committee members as they have made the decision to carry out an inspection of the forest weekly, but this was not budgeted for. Boots, spades and shovels are required for committee members for use during work in the forest. Communities only have a limited supply of these and as more individuals become interested and want to become involved this becomes a problem. Whilst the project enabled other communities to participate in training activities where possible and affordable, there is a lack of funds for comprehensive extension of the project to further communities. Some individuals who are resentful of the drive to restrict the plundering of the forests continue to try to discourage communities from participating in the initiative. Whilst there is no danger of this jeopardizing the Kioudoube Community Forest, or indeed the scale-up - as it is very clear from the response district wide that it would be welcomed - it is unfortunate that some remain unconvinced by the benefits of preserving the forests. PROJECT HAND OVER To mark the end of the FAO FLEGT funding of the pilot project, an informal ceremony was held in Koudioube village on the 11th December 2012. This meeting was attended by great numbers of participants from all four of the targeted villages, as well as other satellite villages. The ceremony was also attended by government authorities from the Diouloulou municipality, and a representative of the president of the Communautes Rurale. Other stakeholders in the project including forestry officers, school authorities, civil society representatives, MFDC members and women group leaders all attended the occasion. Concern Universal representatives at the occasion assured the participants that despite the end of the currently available financial support, the partnerships between the community, ASAPID and CU will not end. It was enforced by the village chiefs that with the end of the funding, the sustainability of the efforts so far will be entirely down to the effort and commitment of the villagers. The community committed to continuing the monitoring and upkeep of the forest, acknowledging that their attitudes had changed as a result of the project. It was very clear that there was a strong commitment by the CFC to continue to motivate the community and to also work with the surrounding areas in maintaining the level of effort deployed so far. Speaker after speaker from the community expressed pleasure with the outcomes of their efforts, and promised to nurture the forest to be an example that is worth emulating by other communities in the Casamance region. The most compelling aspect of the meeting was the repeated emphasis that the community placed on the growth of unity and trust amongst their local population that had been brought about by the project, and the joy they took from being able to work together and enjoy as a community a friendliness and togetherness which had not been known for decades. 16 EVALUATION On the 12th and 13th December 2012, a workshop was held at the ASAPID office premises. 30 people attended the workshop, from the 4 village beneficiaries of the forestry project, some surrounding villages, the CFC, the Forestry office, a representative of the schools and representatives s of the MFDC in the area. The two day workshop aimed to establish the opinion of the community about the impact of the project after 12 months of operation. Participants were also encouraged to reflect on the constraints encountered and any lessons that could be learned for future projects. A full evaluation report will be compiled but some highlights included reports that: No trees were illegally cut down since the inception of the Kioudoube Community Forest; There have been no bush fires affecting the Kioudoube Community Forest; Animals, such as troops of monkeys that were rarely seen in the past are now seen moving in groups around the forest area; In the past some traditional medicines had become difficult to find and were only available during the rainy season, but now these medicines are growing all year. They include: Sampitu (good for pregnancies), Konkutumamding (also good for pregnancy), Sinjalo, Djambakatan, Kaidien. Before the project it had become a problem getting medicines and they had to use palm bark but now all these plants have returned; Peoples health is improving because they are both able to access medicine and have access to more fruits that they like to eat; People in the different villages have increased their trust in each other and have the confidence to interact with one another; Women have been able to form marketing Kafos and are now marketing edible forest products, some are also using local processing plants to add value to the forest products before selling them; The community forest concept has gained recognition and many communities have expressed interest in its uptake; The people living in the community are able to live from the forest as they have traditionally done for many years, before it was so damaged by the effects of the ongoing conflict. EVALUATION WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS 17 This report was prepared for the FAO Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Support Programme for African, Caribbean and Pacific Countries (GCP/INT/064/EC) by Concern Universal. The contents of this report are the sole responsibility of Concern Universal and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union This report provides a description of project activities, results and deliverable for the period covering 1 st January2012 to 17th December 2012 For more information please contact: Tony Jansen Country Director Concern Universal the Gambia and Senegal: firstname.lastname@example.org, +220 4494473/4494475 18