Technology and trees tackle climate change in Benin

Digital photo analysts at work at in the National Geographic Institute
© Ecoloodi, 2018

GCCA+ project in Benin, implemented by UNDP, supports cutting-edge digital technology combined with traditional tree-planting and reforestation to help Benin mitigating the impacts of climate change.

For decades, Benin’s Ouémé river basin has been suffering from intensive farming and over-use. The solution comes through the support of a joint EU and UNDP project.

The solution came through the Support Project for Preservation and Development of Forests Galleries and Production of Digital Basic Mapping (PAPDFGC), an €8.3 million joint project between the EU Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GGCA+) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

A total of 15,500 aerial photos covering the whole of Benin were taken, some of which were used to create 3D topographic models.

“We capture all the data from the aerial photos then we use local knowledge to add extra information,” says Elodie Dubois, Head of the Digital Mapping Workshop. “We talk to the mayors, the district authorities and the village chiefs.

With a complete set of digital maps in the database, work began to identify and restore the most degraded stretches of forest gallery. A total of 80 hectares of riverbanks along the Ouémé River and its tributaries has so far been replanted with more than 190,000 trees. The trees are planted in strips around 25 metres wide on both sides of the river.

“I have worked with the forest galleries project for two years,” says Pierre Bocco Amoussou, a nurseryman from the district of Zangnanado in the south of Benin. “We grow indigenous tree species such as Ceiba, Triplochiton, Xylopia, Kola and Milicia.

Women are especially important to the project’s success. 7000 people from 13 riverside communities were given training in flood management - including nearly 3000 women. “It’s not just the restoration of the forest,” says Symphorien Missegbetche, Mayor of Zangnanado. “The project helps women to generate additional income, and when women are able to earn more money, they help ensure food security. ”


A workshop to train local people to become digital photo analysts ©UNDP