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Reducing pressure on protected resources

Nature economy

Benin’s mangroves are another valuable resource which are being overexploited. With wood consumption for energy purposes estimated at between 0.77 and 1 kg per person per day, a huge amount of pressure is being placed on this important ecosystem. To identify alternative cooking energy sources, particularly at sites classified as wetlands of international importance (Ramsar 1017 and 1018), ACED worked with EREP, a Swiss consultancy that specialises in waste management and environmental conservation, from 2015 to 2016. The initiative produced a study that confirmed the technical and economic feasibility of using biogas produced from water hyacinth with household biowaste as an appropriate energy alternative to mangrove wood.

To test the theory, a pilot biogas digester was installed to supply 17 households in the Sô-Ava municipality with domestic gas in 2018-2019. The beneficiaries were trained on how to supply the digester and use biogas bags to safely store the energy within their homes. The households reduced their wood consumption, directly reducing pressure on mangrove resources, and improved their waste disposal by feeding the digester.

Further, the combined efforts of the biogas initiative and that of the water hyacinth compost intervention have reduced the amount of CO2 being released by the plant by more than 10,000 tonnes since 2013, thereby helping to mitigate climate change.

The initiative has also planted more than 1,500 mangrove propagules to regenerate the mangrove sites and recover areas of deforestation. To encourage local ownership and preservation of the mangroves, beekeeping activities have also been initiated at the protected sites. Thirty beneficiaries have received training and equipment to benefit from this new source of revenue – and have been taught about the importance of mangroves and their role in maintaining the ecosystem.

This blog post emerged from the 10-year impact report of ACED. You can download the full report for more information.