Sharing knowledge and building capacity to mitigate climate change through irrigation-free indigenous tree establishment







Delivered by:



Creating improved capacity and awareness among policymakers, decision-makers and smallholders of environmental benefits associated with non-irrigated indigenous tree planting.

This project aimed to help mitigate climate change and deliver livelihood and poverty reduction benefits to smallholder farming communities in dryland Northern Nigeria. How? By promoting the uptake of farmer managed natural regeneration of vegetation (FMNR) and irrigation-free indigenous tree restoration (IFITR) practices. 


Through innovative training to enhance local indigenous tree restoration and planting skills, and to build capacity within smallholder farms in northern Nigeria, the project aimed to: 


  • Improve awareness of the potential of indigenous trees to contribute to local development, green recovery, and climate change mitigation
  • Accelerate emissions reductions due to increased indigenous tree cover and wider uptake, facilitating access to finance
  • Diversify livelihoods and improve gender equality, contributing to a green recovery via enhanced value chains and employment


The project was delivered by the University of Leeds in collaboration with the University of York and Bayero University Kano. 

“We have a lack of professional staff and nurseries lack water. This project has changed what we do, from nursery-based seedling production to farmers managed natural restoration.”

Head of Department of Forestry for the State Ministry of Environment

“The training has enlightened us about the role of female farmers in indigenous tree restoration and drew our attention to the women’s empowerment potential and food security benefits.”

Female extension worker, Kano



  • Dryland Northern Nigeria is subject to land degradation and desertification, driven by both climate change and unsustainable land use practices
  • Almost 70% of the population is involved in agriculture, which is the backbone of the regional economy, making this a key barrier to sustainable development
  • Poverty in the region is the highest in Nigeria, with land degradation exacerbated by migration, conflict and low recognition of the rights and roles of women
  • Women are disproportionately impacted by poverty and land degradation given their prominent roles in farming households, and engage largely in unskilled, labour-intensive agricultural work, lacking access to finance, training, and decision-making
  • State and national government ministries have identified improved uptake of FMNR and IFITR as key priorities for climate change mitigation and sustainable development
Policy recommendations

on climate change mitigation through the introduction and upscaling of IFITR

Capacity building for farmers

for 200 smallholder farmers and extension workers to enhance their silvicultural and technical skills

Art exhibition

2,200 participants attended an art exhibition in Kano focused on indigenous tree species in agroforestry and its potential benefits to raise awareness

Capacity building for policymakers

attended by NGOs and policymakers to better understand the economic importance of driving efforts to include IFITR into their organisations and policies

Project achievements

To achieve its multiple objectives of enhanced emissions reductions, livelihood diversification, gender equality and a green recovery, the project engaged with stakeholders and built capacity through:

  • Stakeholder mapping to identify the barriers, leverage points and opportunities for upscaling IFITR
  • Policy recommendations to improve the uptake of best practices, formalised in signed voluntary commitments to support the changes to policy and practice in their areas of influence
  • Training and capacity building activities on IFITR, including the development of context-specific training manuals for each state and its institutional landscape
  • Establishing two demonstration plots in each state, alongside training on silvicultural and technical skills to identify, protect and manage the growth of trees and shrubs
  • Production of media outputs and art exhibitions to raise regional awareness about benefits from indigenous tree species, focusing on gender perspectives and implementation
  • Building capacity for policymakers and NGOs to better understand the economic importance of promoting IFITR in their organisations, policies and documents

women (50% of participants) took part in the field training for farmers and extension workers


women (27% of participants) attended the workshops for policymakers, highlighting the need for improved diversity within these groups


women (54% of participants) attended an art exhibition displaying artwork by local female artists


short films produced, portraying women as key players in raising awareness on the importance of indigenous tree restoration within their households and communities

GESI highlights

This project integrated GESI perspectives and benefits throughout all the activities delivered. Tangible impact was generated by including women and smallholder farmers in field-based trainings, workshops, media outputs and wider capacity building activities. 

Training has mapped strategies and priorities for women to be major counterparts of future livelihood diversification, and created new capabilities and opportunities for women and smallholder farmers. For example, the fact that innovative tree restoration practices engender increased availability of value products creates opportunities for furthering female empowerment in the sector as well as food security benefits.  

During the implementation of multiple project activities, efforts were made to better understand how differences within groups might pose different barriers that need to be overcome to adequately represent and maximise empowerment opportunities. Additionally, actions were taken to ensure that women's voices were heard in the workshops. Priority has been given to women's perspectives in project outputs, including in the literature review and production of manuals, where their perspectives are prominently presented. 

Finally, recommendations were produced to advocate for increased commitments among the political stakeholders in Nigeria to address GESI dimensions in their approaches. In-depth focus, analysis and discussion on a range of GESI-focused issues have driven the attention of the policymakers towards the opportunities for indigenous tree restoration to foster gender empowerment.

Secondary image - 400 x 600

Forward look

By underpinning the creation of new and diversified livelihoods for those living in dryland northern Nigeria, this project has paved the way for sustainable economic growth that is inclusive of women and marginalised groups. Project impacts will continue beyond the project duration, as tree establishment, growth and associated improvements to soil health and product availability is a long-term process.

The impact could be scaled up and sustained by:

  • Replicating the interventions across other states in Northern Nigeria, the Sahel, and all dryland countries
  • Promoting cross-sectoral harmonisation of tree restoration and climate change into sectoral policies
  • Creating an enabling financing environment and leveraging resources to support tree restoration and value chain development
  • Better mainstreaming GESI into sectoral policies and programmes to address the impacts of climate change on women and vulnerable groups
  • Establishing gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation systems to collect and disseminate gender-related data on climate

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