In Mali, the forest covers about 11% of the territory as estimated in 2020. . Prospecting, inventory and mapping studies have shown that 79.44% (2018) of these forests are in a state of sometimes severe degradation, threatening their territorial integrity. While some of these forests are subject to the process of total declassification, others have already recorded partial declassifications followed by compensatory classifications. The remaining 20.56%, which are in a relatively stable state, are highly exposed to pastoral pressures, poaching, bush fires and gold panning .
As of today, we note that only 2.80% of these forests have valid management plans but little or no follow-up of concrete management.
However, the pressures exerted by the population including agricultural clearing, abusive wood cutting, bush fires and overgrazing, have caused significant modifications of this natural formation. In addition to this anthropic activity, climate change is also a factor causing pressures to forests. Thus, year after year, clear forests are transformed into savannahs, savannahs into steppes and steppes into desert. Mali loses 100,000 ha of its vegetation cover each year. The south of the country, which benefits from better climatic conditions, remains the most productive area with a productivity of about 1.5 m3/ha/year; in contrast to the north of the country where productivity varies between 0.5 and 0.3 m3 /ha/year .
Under the Malian legislation in force, protected areas are national parks, nature reserves, wildlife reserves, special reserves or sanctuaries and biosphere reserves. The three RAMSAR sites located in the Inner Niger River Delta are considered protected areas.
Economically, forests remain the main source of domestic energy through wood and charcoal used by almost all households in Mali, most of whom do not have access to alternative energy sources (gas, electricity). The issue of the forestry sector in Mali is defined by several aspects, the most important of which are: i) a constant degradation of forest resources (including wildlife and fisheries) due to anthropogenic causes but also to climatic changes; ii) a social crisis around the management of forest resources between the government and the communities, and within the communities; weak integration of the forestry sector into the national economy coupled with insufficient investment from the national budget in the sector; iii) Insufficient or poorly enforced legislation and policy; and iv) unstable Institutional management framework with insufficient capacities.
The main causes of forest loss in Mali include clearing for agricultural purposes, bush fires and overexploitation of wood.
Although notable efforts are being carried out for the reconstitution of the plant cover through natural regeneration and reforestation, results remain mixed. In peri-urban areas, the uncontrolled exploitation of wood to meet needs, above all for energy, and also as a source of income to fill the agricultural production deficit continues to accentuate the degradation of natural formations .
Key policies and governance approach
The preparation of the national prospective document for the development of the Malian forestry sector is one of the most critical and important taken by the Government of Mali, with the technical and financial support of various partners, with the aim to protect and restore forest cover .
In 1995, the Law No. 95-004 establishing the conditions for the management of forest resources, contains general provisions relating to forest resources. It is made up of 99 articles divided into 5 sections. Article 17 establishes the list of protected species and article 18 provides that the decentralized territorial communities may decide to protect specific species. Articles 21 to 23 regulate burning in the forest domain as well as the distribution and composition of the national forest domain, which is divided into the domain of the State, the decentralized territorial communities and individuals and is made up of the classified forest domain and the protected forest domain. The Law also talks about the management of the national forest estate, aimed at the protection of forest resources and carried out according to management plans .
This Law has been implemented by the Decree No. 01-404/p-rm determining the terms and conditions for exercising the rights conferred by the titles to exploit forest resources of 2001 and eventually repealed by, in 2010, Law n°10-028 determining the fundamental principles relating to the management of the resources of the national forest domain .
The general objective of the New National Forest Policy (PNF) is the efficient and sustainable management of forest, wildlife and fishery resources .
The National Directorate of Waters and Forests has the task of developing the elements of the national policy on water and soil conservation, the fight against desertification, the sustainable management of forests, wetlands, wildlife and of its habitat and the preservation of the diversity .
Successes and remaining challenges
Several key actions are underway to rehabilitate Mali's forest resources. Among these actions are the implementation of 106 forest management plans, the demarcation of three classified forests, the development of thirty (30) management plans (PAG), including one classified forest and 29 village massifs, and the registration of ten (10) classified forests under management, 627 ha of classified forests and 105,000 ha of village massifs.
These highly strategic achievements raise a lot of hope, given the participatory and inclusive approach that underlies their implementation and facilitates their appropriation by the stakeholders. In addition, 3,351 ha have been the subject of assisted natural regeneration; firebreaks have been opened over 1,325 km and cleaned over 1,027 km. Reforestation has covered 32,517.72 ha in 2017 and forest enrichment 25,561, 26 ha. Between 2007 and 2014, the areas planted have increased from 9 079 hectares à 80 387 hectares, or a multiplication by 9.
The collective and individual awareness of the problems of degradation of the environment in general and of forest resources in particular as well as the policies, strategies and programs in progress give hope that actions to protect the environment will be increasingly effective.
Despite this, Mali still has 112 classified forests and protection perimeters covering an area of 1,338,991 acres, or less than 1% of the country's area. These classified forests are the object of anarchic occupation leading to their degradation.
Initiatives and Development Plans
The 1996-2005 Action Plan encompasses five major programs and four accompanying measures designed to concretely translate the new orientations of forest policy. The programs listed are: i) The "Natural Resources and Land Use" program which includes all projects relating to the planning of agricultural land use and the conceptual framework for the development and management of natural forest resources; ii) The "Forest, wildlife and halieutic resource management" program, which concerns all development projects proper in the forest, wildlife and fisheries domain; iii) The “Nature protection, ecosystem restoration and nature conservation” program which covers all conservation projects for protected areas and MAB-UNESCO international heritage sites, monitoring international conventions for the protection of endangered species. disappearance / extinction, and restoration of natural forest, wildlife and fishery resources; iv) The “Training” program which includes vocational training, retraining and specialization projects in favor of the various players in the sector; v) The “Development of sectors” program, which concerns projects to promote sectors for forest, wildlife and fishery products .
Mali is also part of UN-REDD, a system which put in place more than USD52 million dollars available to projects implementation. In the country, close to USD30 million have been received to finance projects .
Moreover, UNDP and the World Bank recently joined forces to carry out actions in the Boucle du Baoulé. UNDP’s actions focus on the park itself, while the World Bank, through the Natural Resources Management Program (PGRN), focuses on 344 riverside villages.
Goals and Ambitions
Mali’s goals and ambitions for its forests are perfectly reflected in the country’s ambitions for GES mitigation scenarios including development and improvement of renewable energy and mix energy production systems, improvement of agricultural production performance, reduction of deforestation and large-scale reforestation. Global cost of the conditional mitigation scenario amount to 34, 68 $ billions (1, 16 for energy, 20, 6 for agriculture and 12, 92 for forest) .
- A number of policies and initiatives are needed and currently being drafted or underway to reduce the various pressures and rehabilitate forest formations (development, classification, reforestation, assisted natural regeneration, etc.)
 The World Bank (2022). Forest area (% of land area) – Mali. Available: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/AG.LND.FRST.ZS?locations=ML.
 Rapport National sur le Developpement Durable, NSDS-Mali (2009).
 ECOLEX Le portail au droit de l’environnement. Mali. [Online]. Available at : https://www.ecolex.org/fr/details/legislation/loi-no-95-004-fixant-les-conditions-de-gestion-des-ressources-forestieres-lex-faoc002794/.