Land Use and Biodiversity in Unprotected Landscapes: The Case of Noncultivated Plant Use and Management by Rural Communities in Benin and Togo

Society and Natural Resources (Impact Factor: 1.09). 06/2012; 25(12). DOI: 10.1080/08941920.2012.674628


To contribute to the development of strategies for sustainable agricultural land use and biodiversity conservation in landscapes without formal protection status, we investigated the local use and management of noncultivated plants as important ecosystem functions of inland valleys in south Benin and Togo, and local perceptions on changes in plant biodiversity and causes for these changes. Local users of noncultivated plants perceived agriculture and construction as major factors contributing to the reduction of (noncultivated) plant biodiversity. However, they also collect many useful species from agricultural fields and the village. A small community forest reserve and a 2-ha community garden were the only organized forms of conservation management. Observed ad hoc conservation initiatives were selective harvesting of plant parts, preserving trees during land clearing, and allowing useful weed species in the field. Future development and conservation efforts in unprotected landscapes with multiple ecosystem functions should acknowledge knowledge, interests, and needs of local communities

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    • "In fact this is a common strategy to cope with declining forests (Shepherd, 1992). Other strategies, observed by Rodenburg et al. (2012) around inland valleys in Togo and Benin, include the establishment of a community garden with useful species and the conservation of a small community forest. These observations show that local communities depending on natural resources in – 7 – and around inland valleys are able to exploit these landscapes synergistically, balancing agricultural production with biodiversity conservation, use and management. "
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