...for demonstrating on a large scale how drylands can be greened at minimal cost, improving the livelihoods of millions of people.
The Australian agronomist Tony Rinaudo is known as the “forest maker”. Having lived and worked in Africa for several decades, he has discovered and put in practice a solution to the extreme deforestation and desertification of the Sahel region. With a simple set of management practices, farmers regenerate and protect existing local vegetation, which has helped to improve the livelihoods of millions.
Rinaudo has pioneered a technique that involves growing up trees from existing root systems, which are often still intact and which Rinaudo refers to as an “underground forest”. By choosing the right plants, and by pruning and protecting them in a certain way, they soon grow into trees. Rinaudo realised that if it was people who had reduced the forest to a barren landscape, it would require people to restore it. Changing attitudes has been key to Rinaudo’s successful work.
Rinaudo’s farmer-managed natural regeneration method, has restored 50,000 km2 of land with over 200 million trees in Niger alone. It has the potential to restore currently degraded drylands with an area the combined size of India. What Rinaudo has created is much more than an agricultural technique, he has inspired a farmer-led movement regreening land in the Sahel region.