Interview with Tahina Roland Frédéric – Restoration Steward for drylands
“The Restoration Stewards program provides funding, mentorship, and training to deepen the impact of youth-led restoration projects. The year-long program is run by the Youth in Landscapes Initiative (YIL) and the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) under the banner of Generation Restoration to support and highlight the work of eight young restoration practitioners and their teams in 2023.
During the program, the Restoration Stewards and their teams are supported to further develop their project and serve as ambassadors at both global and local levels. Globally, the Restoration Stewards share their journeys in a series of vlogs and blogs documenting their stories of inspiration and challenges and participate in different international events to showcase their work. Locally, they are sparking a restoration movement, mobilizing local communities, and creating pathways to connect, share, learn, and act for livelihoods and landscapes.”
Restoration stewards are awarded for six different habitats: drylands, forests, oceans, wetlands, peatlands, and mountains.
This year restoration steward for Drylands is Tahina Roland Frédéric, a young Malagasy agronomist who specialized in forestry at the Higher School of Agronomic Sciences (ESSA) at the University of Antananarivo. He has over four years of experience in conservation in his native Menabe region of Madagascar and has been involved in park management, habitat and species conservation, law enforcement, and sustainable livelihood activities. The idea behind Taniala Regenerative Camp came to him after leading community patrols to fight against slash-and-burn agriculture and to protect the region’s dry forest ecosystem. He is currently the president of this non-profit organization, and he is convinced that if we manage to promote a model of regenerative agriculture in Menabe, the degraded soil will regenerate and the forest will be restored. The Taniala organization derives its name from two Malagasy words: “Tany” which means both “earth” and “soil”; and “Ala” which means “forest”.
Taniala regenerative camp near Morondava, Western part of Madagascar.
The Taniala Regenerative Camp promotes regenerative land use practices in Madagascar that are locally adapted, accessible, and sustainable. It aims to support the forest to regenerate through sustainable agriculture techniques and to bequeath living soil to future generations in Madagascar. The idea is to replicate forest ecosystem processes and “plants water” on these drylands through syntrophic agroforestry, reconciling food production and ecosystem regeneration. The project consists of (a) developing models of syntropic agroforestry systems adapted to the local context; (b) promoting these models to the local community, and (c) practicing these models at the home garden, field and school garden levels.
The first Regenerative Camp was set up in January 2022 in Lambokely, a village where migrants live after fleeing famine and drought. The local community depends on agriculture, including the cultivation of corn, cassava, and groundnuts. ‘Slash-and-burn’ cultivation of corn over three years is currently the preferred agricultural technique, after which time, other plots of forest are cleared. As a result of these unsustainable practices, only 56% of forest cover remains today. Taniala aims to set up more Regenerative Camps to promote more sustainable practices in other sites.
During #GLFNairobi this year in October I had a chance to meet this inspiring young man, Tahina Roland Frédéric, in person and did an interview with him.
The photos above show the process of regeneration of the first demonstration plot in regenerative agroforestry in their first camp in Lambokely. It is a food forest made up of tree rows and vegetable growing beds. The tree rows are made up of different species of trees (fruit trees, biomass trees, bananas, native trees). Between the lines of trees, there is an intercrop of vegetables and food crops.
Q & A
What inspired you to start with regenerative camp?
My biggest inspiration to create a regenerative camp were Vandana Shiva’s books about regenerative agriculture and Syntropic Agroforestry by Ernst Gotsch.
On which techniques did you build your Regenerative Camp?
On resilience designed agroecology, agroforestry, ecosystem restoration, conservation of water and soil. My camp is a living laboratory; with climate change agriculture has to be more and more climate resilient, and it is necessary to have more diversification, and stratification in the fields.
What is the goal of the Regenerative camp?
To have sustainable farming systems adapted to the needs of local farmers (peanut and corn production) and to the local context (sandy soil, semi-arid climate, slash-and-burn problem). To have this it is necessary to train local communities so they can share techniques with other communities.
How the local people has accepted the idea of a regenerative camp?
In the beginning, I had to do a sensitization of local people because at first, they were suspicious, but after they had seen positive results of my work I gained their confidence and now they are happy to be involved in my projects.
What are the plans for the future?
For the moment we are preparing on the ground to expand our syntropic agroforestry plot to 3ha. We currently have around 10,000 tree seedlings in our camp nursery. Our current challenge is to find stable funding so that we can pay for full-time employees in Taniala Regenerative camp, and to create lots of regenerative camps around Madagascar. We are also looking for partnerships and collaboration with other institutions.