Management of Natural Resources

Programme description

Title: Management of Natural Resources
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Mauritania
Lead executing agency: Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017

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In Mauritania, high population pressure and poor management are leading in many instances to massive over-utilisation and degradation of the forest and pasture ecosystems and their natural resources, particularly in the south of the country. The marine and coastal biodiversity is also being threatened by increasingly intensive fishing and offshore oil and gas exploitation by industry. Such over-utilisation is causing a shortage of vital resources and is having a detrimental effect on food security and ecosystem services. The situation is exacerbated by the negative impact of climate change.

The Mauritanian Government has recognised the importance of managing natural resources in a sustainable manner. However, in spite of adopting some useful approaches, the Ministry of the Environment and key stakeholders in national parks and municipalities are not yet in a position to effectively ensure that resources are used considerately.


Sustainable management of the ecosystems and their natural resources is improved.


The project is being implemented nationwide. Pilot activities are taking place in the regions of Guidimakha, Hodh El Garbi and Gorgol in the south and in the Banc d’Arguin and Diawling coastal national parks.

The project is involved in three key areas:

  1. Policy advice and technical and organisational consultancy are being provided to improve the effectiveness of the Ministry of the Environment. For example, the Ministry is receiving help to develop formal procedures, refine the legal framework and implement international environmental conventions.
  2. Preservation of the marine and coastal biodiversity is being supported by making biodiversity management more professional and safeguarding the financial security of a selection of protected marine and coastal areas. In cooperation with international nature conservation organisations, the project is supporting a programme designed to preserve biodiversity in the oil and gas sector. Moreover, the project is helping to set up an inter-sectoral commission to preserve marine and coastal biodiversity.
  3. The decentralised management of natural resources in the agricultural, woodland and pasture areas in the south of the country is being strengthened. Direct support for user associations is therefore being scaled back and skills are being increasingly transferred to the ministries and municipalities. Sustainable, decentralised resource management is being rolled out and incorporated into training modules offered by an educational establishment and programmes run by other donors.

A consortium of the consulting firms GOPA and Eco Consult supports the implementation of the project.

Results achieved so far

The project has already been able to contribute towards improving the legal basis for environmental protection and sustainable resource management.

Professional management tools and processes have been put in place in the Banc d’Arguin and Diawling national parks.

The programme to preserve biodiversity in the oil and gas sector that the project is supporting in cooperation with other international organisations has introduced a monitoring and early warning system for the marine environment, and collated and disseminated scientific findings on marine biodiversity. A national strategy for setting up and managing a national network of protected marine and coastal areas has been drafted. Dialogue and cooperation between the relevant ministries, oil and gas companies, civil society and scientists have been strengthened.

Decentralised management has been successfully introduced in the two key regions of Guidimakha and Hodh El Gharbi. Smallholders and livestock owners have so far formed 37 user communities, and are now sustainably farming an area of over 10,000 square kilometres in demonstrable accordance with formal and legally binding user agreements. Women are being given particular support so that they are assured access to and representation on the user communities’ main committees. The proportion of women in key positions in the user associations has increased from six to 36 per cent.

Additional information