Perspectives of Sustainable Management of the Mieou Classified Forest in Mali


Between 1990 and 2015, Mali lost 30% of its forest. Even today, 500,000 hectares of forest are destroyed each year by agricultural clearing, increased wood and charcoal consumption, and bush fires. The Ségou region has 15 classified forests, including the Mieou forest, the site of this study. This forest has experienced a very significant change in land use between 2000 and 2015, characterised on the one hand by an increase in shrub savannah, bare soil and human settlements, fields and fallow land, as well as treed savannah and orchards, and on the other hand by effects linked to agricultural and pastoral pressure. A management plan is in place to help minimise the negative impacts of natural resource development activities on the environment. This provides for a number of actions, including developing pastoral areas and access roads, raising awareness, developing fishing ponds, reforestation, soil restoration, and management by exploitation/rotation on plots. All stakeholders need to be mobilised to ensure the success of the development plan.


The study involved individual interviews with resource individuals, asking about their use of resources, their knowledge about the new management plan, and their perceptions of specific actions included in the plan. The 39
interviewees were distributed as follows: 37 men and two women from 15 villages, seven socioprofessional categories, five ethnic groups and a maximum education level of elementary school.

Our results confirmed multiple and abusive use of forest resources. With regard to local populations’ knowledge of the management plan, the survey revealed that only 38% of our interviewees were aware of the management plan being implemented. The remaining 62% said they were unaware of such a plan. Additionally, around 60% of the respondents said that they had no other alternatives for saving resources (during the replenishment period).

One of the conclusions of this study is that successful implementation of the management plan would require the information and awareness-raising activities for community representatives to go beyond these representatives and ensure that individual households also receive the message.

Women carrying bags on their heads in Mali.


The anticipated impact of our project is to highlight the conditions (endogenous attitudes and practices) that could be necessary for successful implementation of the management plan. This contribution to the operationalisation of a sustainable development and management strategy would help the most vulnerable (young people and women) to adapt better to climate change.

Lessons learned 

The exploration and provision of alternative livelihoods could be one option prior to the implementation of the plan, and the administration in charge of the plan’s implementation would need to clearly discuss the options with the communities in order to avoid them returning to exploit the areas under development even before they reach an acceptable stage of rehabilitation.