Miriam Kipsang, a lead farmer in Kocholwo village, Elgeyo Marakwet county, Kenya. After trying FMNR on her own land, she reached out to 60 other women. She has sloping land and first rehabilitated one hectare. Finding that grass grew well under the trees, she locked out the animals and cut out weeds. The land had been bare, but now it is a recovering pasture mixed with trees.


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For decades, our author has championed farmer managed natural regeneration, better known as FMNR. Working with communities in various countries, he came to an important realisation: without understanding and addressing reasons for deforestation, reforestation efforts risk sharing the same fate as the original forests.

Farmer managed natural regeneration (FMNR) is a simple, low-cost restoration technique enabling farmers to dramatically improve food production and income. On one level, it involves the systematic regrowth and management of trees and shrubs from felled tree stumps, sprouting root systems or seeds. On another level, because FMNR involves behaviour change which can be adopted by whole communities, districts and countries, it is a landscape management practice. To manage emerging trees, certain practices – such as fire use, livestock management, collection of woody biomass and cultivation – must change. When such changes occur at landscape level, there is a shift from land degradation, biodiversity loss and disrupted water and energy cycles to restoration.

Making use of nature’s capacity for self-healing

Seemingly treeless landscapes often contain a vast reserve of living tree stumps with the capacity to regenerate. This can be done at low cost, quickly and simply (with low technology), and at scale.

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