Book: Tony Rinaudo – The Forest Maker (and two short videos)

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration – FMNR

Book cover: Tony Rinaudo – The Forest MakerOne of the most inspirational earth repair success stories of recent times.

I recently read the book: TONY RINAUDO: THE FOREST MAKER. 2018. Johannes Dieterich, Editor. 151 pages. English edition,.Rufer & Rub Sachbuchverlag, GmbH, Zurich.

What a great book! What an inspiring story! Over 7 million hectares of rergeening in the Sahel so far. Tony Rinaudo is famous and legendary in the African Sahel and internationally.

This technique is useful in Savanna and Parkland ecosystems worldwide where the forest cover has been removed but there is still stump sprouting going on. This will be case in some semi-arid lands, but of course some places have lost their woody plant cover so long ago that there no stumps left to sprout. It is estimated that up to 7% of the earth’s surface could be regreened with FMNR, 2 to 3 billion hectares.

Here are a few quotes from the book.

“When I had first arrived in Niger in 1980, I was 23 years old and fresh out of university [Australia]. I was naïve but full of youthful enthusiasm and vigour”

“After two and half years of mounting frustration I was ready to give up. At one of my low points I was driving to the villages with a trailer load of seedlings. The hopelessness of it all weighed on me. I stopped to reduce the air pressure in the tyres to help the vehicle travel more easily over the loose sand”

“On this day one of the common small “bushes” caught my eye. I had seen these bushes many times before but had never registered their significance. Today I walked over to take a closer look. On seeing the leaves I realized this was not a bush at all – it was a tree, which had been cut down, and was re-sprouting from the trunk. In that instant, everything changed. I somehow knew that was the solution I had been looking for – and it had been at my feet the whole time. There were millions of similar bushes belying the fact that a vast underground forest existed just beneath the surface of the seemingly barren landscape”.

It wasn’t easy, but Rinaudo went on to learn how to prune the bushes and protect them so that they became sizable trees in 5 years time. He taught some farmers the technique and they began practicing with great results for crop yields, wind reduction and organic matter accumulation along with increased fodder for livestock and other yields. This spread gradually from farmer to farmer and through extension agents until it crossed most of the country of Niger and beyond.

“Throughout the Sahel more than 100 different woody species are being managed by farmers through natural regeneration. These trees provide a high level of value to local people”.

“As a result of FMNR, tree densities and tree cover in Niger have dramatically increased in recent decades. Analysis of high-resolution images acquired during 2003 to 2008 shows that in the Maradi and Zinder regions of Niger along, about 4.8 million hectares were regenerated by 2008 through FMNR. An estimated 1.2 million households ere engaged. The agricultural landscapes of southern Niger have more than 200 million more trees than they did 30 years ago. A more recent mapping of tree cover on farmlands has revealed that FMNR is now being practiced on over 7 million hectares in Niger”.

There is lot of information on the internet and quite a number of videos on Youtube from short to long.

Here are a couple short ones:

Tony Rinaudo clip from 'Ethiopia Rising'

The Forest Maker


MICHAEL “SKEETER” PILARSKI is a life-long student of plants and earth repair. His farming career started in 2nd grade and his organic farming career began in 1972 at age 25. Michael founded Friends of the Trees Society in 1978 and took his first permaculture design course in 1982. Since 1988 he has taught 36 permaculture design courses in the US and abroad. His specialties include earth repair, agriculture, seed collecting, nursery sales, tree planting, fruit picking, permaculture, agroforestry, forestry, ethnobotany, medicinal herb growing, hoeing and wildcrafting. He has hands-on experience with over 1000 species of plants. He is a prolific gathering organizer and likes group singing.