Financing Biodiversity”: Performances and Ecological Fallouts of a Changing Landscape
Land restoration receives global attention due to its environmental, social, and economic benefits, as well as its role in climate mitigation and adaptation. With funding from multilateral climate funds, international programs, carbon offsetting, and the voluntary market, ecological restoration is evolving into a proper industry. By focusing on Senegal, particularly the Great Green Wall and Mangrove restoration projects, we seek to evaluate the shift from a development-focused paradigm, led by international organisations, to a market-driven ‘filière’, or industry centred around restored land. We assume that the mutation of international framework and commitments shape the actors involved in funding, designing, and implementing restoration initiatives, and the types of projects that attract financial support.
We created a comprehensive database of restoration projects in Senegal from 2007 to the present (88 projects, 346 stakeholders, 784 areas of interventions) and conducted a typology exercise considering stakeholders, intervention areas, on-ground practices, finances, and implementation protocols. We carried out a spatial analysis that intersected project locations with land use and land degradation levels, thereby assessing the ecological effectiveness of funding allocation at a national level.
Our findings indicate a 50% increase in the number of projects from the period of 2007–2015 to the period of 2015–2023. Three distinct groups of projects appear: ‘Global restoration initiatives’, regional projects focused on agriculture and funded by international organisation and development banks;‘local development actions’, publicly funded with smaller budgets and limited intervention areas;‘non-governmental restoration actions’, privately funded initiatives that use quantitative indicators (hectares and number of trees). Our analysis indicates a rising trend in private investment. The share of initiatives funded solely by private entities averaged 21.5% annually (2007–2015) to 31.2% (2015 to 2023). Projects with at least one private donor rose from 58.8% to 70.6% in the same periods. We reveal that ecological restoration intersects with diverse sectors such as food security, conservation, energy production and use, tourism. A clear spatial distribution of organisational forms exists between internationally recognised carbon-sequestering ecosystems – such as mangroves – and dry land areas where restoration efforts are costlier – in the Sahelian zone for example – which continue to rely on conventional development actors and international donors. The biomass production indicators (NDVI) crossed with the project locations show limitations in the effectiveness of capital allocation to meet the ecological restoration needs.