Tony Rinaudo: For a better future in Niger

Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security 2020

Tony Rinaudo


Why would an Australian farmer who moved to Africa in the 1980s be called ‘the forest-maker’? Tony Rinaudo, World Vision Australia's climate action advisor, told this year's Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security how he embarked on his journey to tackle deforestation in Niger and about the challenges he met on the way.

Tony Rinaudo

The three-week long Caux Dialogue on Environment and Security was part of the first online version of the Caux Forum and took place from 1–19 July 2020. The conference offered plenaries and workshops on a large range of environmental and health topics. Rinaudo's story was one of a number of case studies from all over the world, which illustrated the connection between climate change, desertification and other environmental issues. They depicted various approaches to transforming conflict and searching for sustainable solutions. (Watch the plenary here).

When Rinaudo moved to Niger in the 1980s he was confronted with a country on the brink of environmental crisis, suffering from severe droughts and accelerated desertification. Niger faced crop failure, famine and an increase in crop-ravaging insects.

His first attempts to tackle the situation were a failure. The locals called him the ‘crazy white farmer’. The early years were ‘very very difficult’, he said.

In time he managed to inspire local farmers to join initiatives for farmer-managed natural regeneration (FMNR), a strategy which involves pruning out weak tree stumps to help the stronger ones grow faster. The method, which the poorest could implement ‘with a pocket-knife’, led to revolutionary results.

Today Niger has an average of 40 trees per hectare, compared to only four per hectare in the 1980s. The reforestation has led to better supplies of food, fuelwood and water, thereby increasing food security and reducing conflicts over water resources.

Rinaudo concluded: ‘If you work with nature and allow trees to regrow, then nature will care for you and you'll have a better future for yourself and for your children.’


On 3 July 2020 the Swiss online platform reported on Tony Rinaudo's presentation. Read the full article here.




Photo: Reforestation, WWF

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