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Senegal officials visiting

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 1 - August 25, 1994

A group of cabinet-level and agency-head-level officials from Senegal began looking at natural resources planning and management in U.S. and Virginia organizations and communities August 13 to conclude a multi-million-dollar reforestation project in their country and to get ideas for a new, $20.58-million community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) project that gets under way in October.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), both projects are being carried out under a contract between the South-East Consortium for International Development (SECID) and the government of Senegal, with Virginia Tech serving as the lead institution.

"Both the reforestation project and the community-based natural-resources management project are efforts of the government of Senegal and USAID to improve the environment, economy, and agricultural production of Senegal," said Robert L. Youngs, professor of wood science and forest products at Virginia Tech and the home campus coordinator for the reforestation project. He said the country's problem "is vast deterioration of land and forest resources, with increasing desertification, reduced crop yields, lowered water table, and scarcity of fuel wood."

The visitors from Senegal include Mbaye Ndoye, chief of cabinet in the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection; Abdoulaya Kane, director of the Forestry Department; Clement Diedhieu, director of the Senegal Reforestation Project; and Babacar Niane, technical advisor for scientific affairs in the Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection.

According to Youngs, they "are interested in discussing and visiting programs aimed at enhancing the involvement of individual landowners and local communities in planning and managing natural resources. Their objective is to develop ideas, concepts, and models that can be translated to Senegal conditions and further refined as the new CBNRM project is implemented."

Youngs, who coordinated the two-week tour, said the government officials arrived in Washington on August 13 and remained in the D.C. area for five days, looking at operations in American forests, American Farmland Trust, USDA Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, United States Geological Survey, Spot Imagery, PATCO, Nature Conservancy, Society of American Foresters, International Society of Tropical Foresters, and USAID's African Bureau.

On August 19 the officials traveled to Charlottesville, where they looked at the Virginia Department of Forestry's Stewardship Program and related community-interaction programs, the City of Charlottesville's community planning of greenways and other resources, local planning and projects of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District, and Albemarle County's water-resource management.

In Roanoke they discussed community involvement in planning and development and in natural-resource management with Explore Park officials.

In Duffield they visited the Lenowisco Planning District offices on August 22 to look at the application of GIS and other techniques in local resource planning and management, followed by a visit to the Powell River Project in Norton.

On August 23, the officials went to the Dungannon Development Commission, then looked at Soil Conservation Projects in far southwestern Virginia that resulted from joint efforts of organizations involved in resource conservation and development.

Yesterday, they observed Forest Service activities in the southern part of Jefferson National Forest that involved local citizen and organizational efforts to use the forest resource in economic development, recreational development, and environmental protection.

The tour then moved to Blacksburg, where the officials will review today community-planning activities of the Town of Blacksburg and Montgomery County.

During the afternoon, they will participate in a workshop at the university to review and discuss planning techniques and technologies for community involvement and leadership in resource planning and management. Virginia Tech professors and representatives of the community, industry, and local government will join in the discussions.

Before departing on August 27 to return to Senegal, they will review the entire tour, the Senegal Reforestation Project, and goals of the new CBNRM project with officials in the Office of International Research and Development, which played the lead role in getting the two projects. The office is part of University Outreach and International Programs at Virginia Tech.

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