Fighting floods through the conservation and development of gallery forests, and providing reliable cartographic coverage for Benin

Fighting floods through the conservation and development of gallery forests, and providing reliable cartographic coverage for Benin

At a glance

Active programmes
DG for Forests and Natural Resources of the Ministry of Environment in charge of climate change, reforestation and natural resource protection, National Geographical Institute (IGN), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Countries involved
Total budget
8,30 M€
GCCA priority area(s)
Effects of climate change on the region

The degradation and destruction of gallery forests in the Ouémé river basin, caused by over-exploitation and agricultural encroachment, is being exacerbated by climate change. This is not only a significant problem for forest-dependent communities, but also for downstream regions, which increasingly suffer from devastating floods during the rainy season. Structural drivers of forest degradation include charcoal production, non-sustainable timber extraction and extensive fallow-based agricultural practices.

Currently available topographic maps of Benin were developed in the 1950s. They are no longer adequate to support needs such as climate risk management and the monitoring of changes in land cover and carbon stocks.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
8,300,000.00 €
Specific objectives

Reduce flood impacts by promoting the conservation and sustainable use of gallery forests in the lower valley of the Ouémé river, through the establishment of a network of community-based conservation areas embedded in the national protected area system.

Equip Benin with basic geographical information systems and cartographic equipment to support forest management and inform the Growth Strategy for Poverty Reduction, the National Environmental Management Programme and the National Action Programme of Adaptation to climate change.

Key achievements

On the sustainable management of forests:

  • Identification of needs in terms of capacity building for the fight against floods,

  • Greening of Communal Development Plans and adoption of functional warning mechanisms in 10 towns out of the 13 targeted,

  • Greening of 07 community master Plans,

  • 19 simplified management plans (PAGS) for the protection of gallery forests were carried out,

  • Realization of two reforestation campaigns over twenty localities for a total of about 50 hectares reforested along the rivers,

  • Identification of priority infrastructures,

  • Start of works on this infrastructure, including for instance the widening of the Gohounzoun channel connecting the village of Donoukpa to Toche channel,

  • Reforestation activities started in pilot sites along the Ouémé river.

On digital mapping and aerial photography:

  • The inaugural flight of the IGN aircraft was held on February 6, 2015. This was an important event in the life of the project as it marked the effective start of aerial photography campaign.

  • The aerial photography campaign is over and the whole country was covered. (including 3 km buffer zones). The aerial photographs are systematically checked and validated by the restricted team composed of the Project Management Unit and the other actors. The realization of ortho-photos and the Digital Terrain Model (DTM) are underway. The standard legend of topographic maps has been validated and is available. The preliminary draft decree establishing the National Commission for Toponymy was drawn up. The toponymic database is available for 09 municipalities.

  • A project mid-term evaluation was conducted in May-June 2015.

Main activities per result

Flood management and improvements in food security better respond to the needs of the communities.

This involves the development and use of an early warning and information system on floods as well as support for the mainstreaming of environmental and climate-related issues in the development plans and budgets of the districts concerned. Adaptation measures to address flood impacts will also be implemented in targeted districts.

The degradation and encroachment of the gallery forests of the lower valley of the Ouémé river is reduced.

Support will be provided for the development of a policy and legal framework for integrating gallery forests, in the form of community-based conservation areas, into the network of protected areas. Analysis of institutional changes needed for the adoption of a new management structure for gallery forests involving communities and traditional authorities will be undertaken. Sustainable local forest management institutions will be strengthened or set up, with the aim of signing partnership agreements for the sustainable management of gallery forests.

Sustainable use models are implemented in and around gallery forests.

In partnership with research institutions, and through a participatory planning process, sustainable management plans for gallery forests, buffer zones and connection corridors will be prepared. Incentives will be identified for the sustainable management of these areas, and support will be provided to local communities for the development of alternative activities. Support kits for the sustainable production of non-timber forest products, medicinal plants and ecotourism services will be developed.

New GIS data and topographic maps covering the whole territory of Benin are available to ensure information on, among other things, the effects of climate change.

Acquiring geographical information systems (GIS) and cartographic equipment, developing skills in their use and producing up-to-date topographic maps of the entire national territory are considered pre-requisites for modelling the impact of rainfall and setting up a flood early warning system. This will also contribute to the assessment and monitoring of other climate change impacts (such as droughts) and of land use changes and forest carbon stocks. Planned activities include the completion of the national cartographic coverage by high-resolution satellite imagery; the development of a geographical information system; and the production of thematic maps based on image interpretation.

Capacities for the use and management of GIS tools and map production are strengthened at the National Geographical Institute (IGN).

A needs assessment for IGN staff will be undertaken, followed by the training of IGN staff in GIS management and satellite image processing. A business plan including commercial and communication strategies will be prepared for IGN.

Challenges and lessons learned (selected)

The mid-term evaluation highlighted delays and failures of the project during the first 18 months of implementation. However, operational efforts have been made and the current dynamics of the project make it possible to say that the objectives and expected results of the project should be achieved.

Way forward (selected)
  • Continuation of activities for component 1 including income-generating activities, the realization of priority infrastructure, reforestation activities, the development of specific legislation on Forests Galleries, finalization of early warning mechanisms and greening of local plans for all municipalities targeted by the project.

  • Following the completion of aerial photography campaign, follow up on monitoring and validation of the photographs, and preparation of orthophotos and Digital Terrain Model.


“To effectively address the effects of climate change, it is necessary to have detailed knowledge of hydrography, land cover and topography. The project thus plans, under the cartographic component, to develop basic maps for the entire territory of Benin. This approach will allow setting up a flood warning system, but it will also support balanced territorial development in Benin.”

Mrs Françoise COLLET, Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Benin, in her speech on the occasion of the ceremony organised for the signature of the contribution agreement.