In the Three Rivers gazetted forest of northern Benin, the start of the agricultural season is a frequent hotspot of conflict between local communities and forest officials.
It is at this moment when demands are made for forest fees giving permission for residents to cultivate fields or graze their livestock. Yet this is exactly when farmers experience a financial squeeze in preparing their land and obtaining inputs to start the new season.
The grievance is heightened by the fact that the payments demanded by the officials are informal, approaching 10 times the fees promoted in a Participatory Forest Management Plan. The resulting breakdown in trust between the two sides is of no surprise.
What does this story have to do with the decision to align action on land degradation and tenure security, namely through using the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs) to help achieve Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN)? Very much as it turns out.
It is precisely these sorts of localised conflicts that are unrepresented in large-scale datasets observing land governance and degradation. This data story investigates how data is collected and made available to monitor land degradation, and the challenges faced looking for a suitable interface with data on land tenure security.
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A PDF version of this data story will be available soon.