Understanding Why Farmers Keep Planting Trees in Dry Areas

Greg Howard
21st April, 2024

Understanding Why Farmers Keep Planting Trees in Dry Areas

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Cameroon, farmers continued tree-growing post-support due to perceived success and benefits
  • Ongoing motivation and financial gains were key to maintaining tree-growing practices
  • Community influence and tree-growing as a cultural norm also encouraged persistence
In recent years, the importance of land restoration has become increasingly recognized as a critical component of sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation. One approach to encourage land restoration is the implementation of tree-growing support programs, which aim to involve farmers actively in the process. However, a crucial question arises: what motivates farmers to continue these environmentally beneficial practices once the support programs conclude? This issue of "behavioural persistence" is at the heart of a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Pretoria[1]. The study focused on the Mogazang landscape of Cameroon, where such tree-growing support programs have been in place. Through a combination of farmer surveys, interviews with key informants, and extensive literature review, the researchers aimed to uncover the factors that influence whether farmers maintain tree-growing activities after program support ends. The results were enlightening. The researchers found that a farmer's decision to persist with restoration practices was influenced by several factors. A positive attitude towards tree-growing, the perception of its benefits, ongoing motivation, and the financial profitability of maintaining the trees were all significant. Additionally, the influence of the community played a crucial role in encouraging farmers to continue their efforts. One of the key insights from the study was that the design of these support programs often did not adequately address the aspect of behavioural persistence. The inception phase of the programs typically did not prepare farmers for the eventual withdrawal of support, leaving them potentially less equipped to continue on their own. The findings of this study are particularly relevant when considering previous research on behaviour change maintenance[2]. The earlier study highlighted the importance of motives, self-regulation, psychological and physical resources, habits, and environmental and social influences in sustaining behaviour change. The University of Pretoria's research builds on these themes, demonstrating that these factors are indeed critical in the context of land restoration practices. For instance, the concept of self-regulation can be linked to the ongoing motivation that farmers need after the conclusion of support programs. The farmers' positive attitudes and perceptions reflect the role of motives in maintaining new behaviours, while the financial benefits align with the resources theme. Community influence relates to the environmental and social factors that can support or hinder behaviour change maintenance. This research underscores the need for support programs to incorporate strategies that address the long-term maintenance of tree-growing behaviours. By understanding the factors that contribute to behavioural persistence, program designers can create more effective interventions that not only initiate change but also sustain it over time. In conclusion, the study by the University of Pretoria provides valuable insights into the factors that influence the behavioural persistence of tree-growing among farmers. It highlights the gap in current support programs regarding the maintenance of behaviour change and offers a framework for future program design and policy formulation. By integrating the understanding of behaviour change maintenance from previous research[2], this study paves the way for more sustainable land restoration practices that can continue to thrive even after the initial support fades away.



Main Study

1) An Analysis of the Behavioural Persistence of Tree-growing Farmers in the Sudano-Sahelian Region of Cameroon

Published 19th April, 2024


Related Studies

2) Theoretical explanations for maintenance of behaviour change: a systematic review of behaviour theories.


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