11 Nov 2016

Trees for Life

Tree planting in Burkina Faso © Michiel van den Bergh
Tree planting in Burkina Faso © Michiel van den Bergh
By Daniëlle Van Oijen

Trees in the savannah landscapes of West Africa are vital for the livelihoods of people and for the survival of migratory birds. However, only recently a team of dedicated researchers found out that some species are more important to birds than others.

The BirdLife Partnership has been working in West Africa for many years to develop and promote best practices in bird-friendly land management in the Sahel that promote the livelihoods of local communities. Research has been an essential part of that work. Both to unravel the mysteries of migratory landbirds as well as find socially smart solutions for people and nature.

Migratory landbirds are an under studied group of species. For most of them we do not know where they stay in Africa and what their requirements for good habitats are. The good news is that, innovations with tracking devices and field research in West Africa bring up discoveries all the time. Discoveries which are essential for conservation of bird populations that are in decline or even globally threatened.

Landmark research involving arduous work counting over 300 000 trees across the Sahel in a systematic way, and searching for presence of migratory birds, has delivered a list of tree species that are preferred by birds. Birds find food and rest in those trees. BirdLife is using this new knowledge to design new re-greening and tree planting efforts. Promotion of these indigenous tree species has started with other organisations and institutes such as the Great Green Wall. Those trees gowing throughout the Sahel landscapes need to be seen!

The good thing is that these species are very useful for people too. They provide for soil improvement, food, oils, Arabic gum, fodder and even toothbrushes! If you are planning on planting trees or restoring degraded lands, read in on our flyer and learn what species to use for good biodiversity impacts and livelihood gains.

Download the Flyer here (English and French)