Ever since 1989, Naturefriends International (NFI) declares cross-border, ecologically important and endangered regions to be the “Landscape of the Year“(LoY) for two or three years.

The project focuses on current challenges within the region, develops prospects for a sustainable development together with the local community and realizes appropriate measures.

The LoY marks the beginning of a long-term process that is largely designed by Naturefriends. This includes the responsible usage of natural resources, the development of local income opportunities, as for example the promotion of sustainable tourism, and the beginning of cross-border cooperations.

The Landscape of the Year in Senegal/The Gambia is especially important, as it is the first LoY on the African continent. Possibilities for international solidarity through specific activities will be created and established through this pilot project within the Naturefriends movement.

The Naturefriends involved already have a lot of experience regarding the implementation of environmental projects with different European partners. On-going activities like tree planting projects could be incorporated as well within the LoY.

The selected region is located at the border of the Sahel region where the consequences of climate change have significant impact on the local communities. Therefore, one focus of the LoY will be on climate justice by supporting mitigation of climate change related problems.

The region

The project will take place in the cross-border region between Koungheul (SN) and Janjanbureh (GA) (distance Koungheul – Dakar: about 320 km on good roads; distance Koungheul to Janjanbureh: about 50 km).



Koungheul is situated in the Kaffrine region and is characterized by woodland-savannah and flat areas with few elevations in the East, West and South. A large depression from the Southeast to the Northwest can carry rainwater until the end of November.

The climate is very dry and the region is suffering from climate change. There is a significant increase in bush fires and a dramatic decline of forests.

The whole department of Koungheul has 7,098 km2 and about 190,000 inhabitants. There are 135 villages; main languages of the region are Wolof, Mandingo, Pulaar and Koniagui.

The economy is weak and has low diversification; agriculture is the most important factor. The region is strongly affected by poverty and there is no food security. In consequence, the migration rate, especially of young people and women, is very high.

Koungheul is an important stop for tourists travelling to eastern Senegal (Tambacounda and Kédougou regions). In addition, there are two camps for hunters. Many Senegalese tourists come to visit the “Festival de Koungheul“, a famous cultural festival taking place once a year, and the “Carnival Konyagui“, a traditional event organized by the ethnic minority of the Koniagui. However, there is very little tourist infrastructure (accommodation and transport).

Therefore, sustainable tourism development could play an important role in combating poverty and empowering the local population.


Central River Division, formally McCarthy Island Division, with an area of 3038 sq. km, is the largest local Government area in the Gambia.

The division consists of 10 districts including McCarthy Island with the headquarters in Janjanbureh.

According to the 2013 national census, the population is 226,018 from multi ethnical groups such as mandinka, fulas, mansouwanka, etc.

Janjanbureh, previously known as Georgetown, is a town, founded on Janjanbureh Island in the Gambia River, in 1832. It is now the capital of the Central River Region.


The island has many historic sites relating to the settlement of freed slaves and early christian settlers who were from the Wesleyan Mission (1823) and introduced the peanut (groundnut), a crop still exported downstream on the Gambia River.


The dominant vegetation type of the region is tropical rain forest in the form of a gallery forest, which are particularly rich in bird species (more than180 species).

The region, with its Sudan-guinea savannah, has secluded woodland, as well as rice paddies.


The Janjanbureh Island used to be a bustling town visited by tourists and locals from the surrounding villages for trade in peanuts and other imported items. It had a busy jetty frequently visited by cruise boats.


But nowadays, despite its cultural heritage, its being home of the famous Kankurang masquerades, its tremendous biodiversity wealth, its various eco-trails on foot safari reserves, Janjanbureh is described by the lonely planet as “a sleepy, former colonial administrative centre”.


Focus of LoY activities

The core activities include concrete measures, which will be implemented by Naturefriends Senegal and The Gambia together with the local community and regional stakeholders. The following key issues will be looked at:

  • Cultural diversity, multi-ethnical aspects
  • Traditional knowledge and folklore
  • Climate justice
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Sustainable use of natural resources (e.g. using improved cooking stoves, sustainable gardening and agriculture, a.o.)
  • Sustainable tourism development


The overall goal of the Landscape of the Year is to contribute to a sustainable regional development.

The specific objectives include:

  • Foster intercultural exchange (SE – GA as well as SE/GA – Europe)
  • Foster exchange of experiences and good practice between Naturefriends and other stakeholders
  • Initiate capacity-building and empowerment of local people
  • Contribute to reduction of poverty
  • Contribute to sustainable use of natural resources


  • Opening event & Tour d’Horizon [1] (January 2018): the opening event could be designed as one big event, e.g. in Janjanbureh, and some smaller, local events in some of the villages on the next days; this way local people would have the chance to welcome the guests in their villages; the events could be combined with a joint tree planting action by African and European participants.
  • The “Tour d’Horizon” is the trip proposed to European Naturefriends wishing to discover the LoY (“Tour d’Horizon” meaning overview).

First part of Tour d’Horizon should focus on the region; second part could include a trip through The Gambia back to Senegal, visit of Saloum Delta, a.o.

  • Leaflet on the characteristics of the region in English and French and German
  • Virtual exchange of young people from the LoY region and European countries, e.g. combined with peer-to-peer learning on climate justice and solidarity action of European participants (e.g. collecting money for tree plantings or gardening)
  • Two workshops for local women focusing on empowerment and possibilities to contribute to family income

One workshop in May 2018

Follow-up workshop in 2019

  • Training on sustainable tourism development with a focus on capacity building for nature guides, for regional stakeholders and Naturefriends from neighbouring countries in 2018 or 2019
  • Closing event and possibly a second Tour d’Horizon: going to be decided in 2018/2019
  • Continuous PR activities and dissemination of project results within and beyond the Naturefriends network

Distribution of tasks

Naturefriends Senegal will be responsible for all local activities. A steering group with representatives from Naturefriends Senegal, The Gambia, and NFI will conduct the implementation of the single activities. Communication is going to focus on Skype and e-mail.

Physical meetings cannot be financed by NFI.

All activities on the local level are going to be implemented by Naturefriends Senegal and The Gambia. If needed, NFI is going to provide expertise and support, especially in planning the Tour d’Horizon, implementing the workshops and applying for funding.

The PR- and dissemination activities will be implemented by NFI. Furthermore, NFI will coordinate the activities in the framework of the “virtual exchange of young people”.

[1] The trip named „Tour d’Horizon“, a model for sustainable tourism in a Landscape of the Year, is one of the main activities of every LoY; it is an international trip for Naturefriends, organised by NFI (Naturefriends International), the Naturefriends of the region and their partners. It proposes to the participants to discover the region (nature, culture, history), through visits and excursions and through personal contacts with the population.