The Acacia nilotica forests of the Senegal River valley in Senegal were largely depleted in the 1970s and 1980s by drought, mismanaged rehabilitation exercises and cutting for charcoal. This short paper outlined the efforts of the PROGONA project to conserve A. nilotica on state forest lands supporting human use. The first phase of the project (1984-90) used foresterial techniques to rehabilitate protected forests, but the cost-benefit ratio was high. In the second phase, led by FAO, new migrants were allowed to clear land for cultivation on provision that they retained 16 - 20 % tree cover. Communication of project objectives and infrastructural development were included. The third phase proposed to involve villagers in drawing up local management plans.