Guinea has an abundance of natural resources, including the world’s largest reserves of bauxite, the raw mineral used to manufacture aluminum. The demand for Guinean bauxite in global markets has increased in recent years and has devastated the environment, even as it brings jobs. “As the mining sector grew more and more, many people started quitting agriculture, which was at the basis of many livelihoods,” indicates Séraphin Gbamou, the Executive Director of the Association Mines Sans Pauvreté (AMSP).
AMSP was born 2013 with a mission to reduce poverty and improve cultural development through the sustainable management of natural resources in Guinea. Its members had quickly realized that the if they do nothing to restore degraded lands, they might cause environment problems that would be impossible to fix. "From 2020 until 2022, we fully restored an area of 160 hectares and planted trees across 12,000 hectares. All those planted at the foot of Mount Nimba have a survival rate of 90%," he says.
To extend their work, AMSP received a grant from TerraFund for AFR100, an initiative of World Resources Institute, One Tree Planted, and Realize Impact that finances Africa's top restoration enterprises and projects. They are now restoring the nearby Ziama Massif by growing various forest and agroforestry tree species to increase the forest cover and protect biodiversity. “Our work is bringing hope and as many people realize that, many others will join,” says Hassan Omar, a young restoration champion who is passing along this knowledge to the community.
He and his fellow young people are planting trees, nurturing forests, and watching over their management. The Mount Nimba area is especially important to conserve because this biosphere reserve is home to critically endangered chimpanzees. "In all our restoration projects, we emphasize on the community approach," says François Dopavogui, the organization’s project manager in Boké and Boffa. The program is now confident that, with the local community as the guardian of the work, the long-term impact will be assured.