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Africa’s Great Green Wall (GGW) is a transformative initiative to combat desertification, land degradation, and the effects of climate change in drylands around the Sahara. Large-scale restoration interventions are the priority actions that are implemented to increase biomass production, vegetation cover, and land productivity for small-scale farming and pastoral systems. We hypothesised that standardised assessment can be carried out within the first years of restoration interventions. Using innovative high-resolution satellite imagery and spatial assessment tools, we investigated participatory field operations over five years in 120 plots of 50 to 200 hectares under restoration involving 100 village communities in Burkina Faso and Niger. Comparative assessment results showed an 80% match between collected field data and computerised data just after mechanised ploughing, using Radar detection techniques of soil disturbance. After restoration planting, the vegetation index data (NDVI) showed a significant increased biomass in years 3 and 5 in all the plots. Plots planted 5 years ago, showed land cover improved 10% to 40% on average. Qualitative data of species enrichment also showed an increase in biodiversity, as a methodical combination of woody and herbaceous native species were planted. However, there was very little cumulative increase in NDVI values of natural regeneration in control plots for this Sahel region. The combination of field data with remote sensing data to provide a standardised, affordable and objective assessment of the biophysical impact of restoration interventions is now used by FAO to support the whole GGW restoration programme and is proposed for other large-scale restoration initiatives.
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Society for Ecological Restoration