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Traditional agroforestry systems and biodiversity conservation in Benin (West Africa)

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In the past, the conservation of biodiversity has been mostly understood in terms of the management of protected areas and natural forests, ignoring the possible role of farm areas and the ways through which rural communities have promoted biodiversity in their subsistence agricultural production systems. The present study focused on the floristic diversity within traditional agroforestry parkland systems around the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in Benin and showed the diversity of tree species in the area as well as socio-economic factors which affect the practice of this farming system. We used questionnaires and interviewed a total of 118 households to collect data. Respondents were interviewed on their farms and during the interview; we inventoried the number of tree on the farm and determined the farm size. Twenty-one tree species belonging to 14 botanical families were recorded during the surveys and the average stand density of the woody component of farmlands was 7.97±5.43 stems/ha. A number of both native and exotic tree species occurred in the parkland agroforestry systems with dominance of indigenous tree species. Species richness varied with the size of household where households with small land holding conserve more tree species in their field than households with large land holdings. 64% of households surveyed were making deliberate efforts to plant tree species on their farmlands. The most important reasons which determined household ambitions to conserve woody species on farmland were tree products contribution to food and medicine. Results also showed that respondents who noticed that trees were decreasing in the wild conserve more tree species on their farmlands. This research highlights the role of traditional agroforestry practices to support tree species richness and provides evidence of the farms’ role as biodiversity reservoirs. KeywordsConservation indigenous species–Parkland agroforestry–Socio-economic factors
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Traditional agroforestry systems and biodiversity
conservation in Benin (West Africa)
Vodouhe G. Fifanou Coulibaly Ousmane
Biaou Gauthier Sinsin Brice
Received: 28 October 2009 / Accepted: 29 January 2011 / Published online: 11 February 2011
ÓSpringer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011
Abstract In the past, the conservation of biodiver-
sity has been mostly understood in terms of the
management of protected areas and natural forests,
ignoring the possible role of farm areas and the ways
through which rural communities have promoted
biodiversity in their subsistence agricultural produc-
tion systems. The present study focused on the floristic
diversity within traditional agroforestry parkland sys-
tems around the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve in Benin
and showed the diversity of tree species in the area as
well as socio-economic factors which affect the
practice of this farming system. We used question-
naires and interviewed a total of 118 households to
collect data. Respondents were interviewed on their
farms and during the interview; we inventoried the
number of tree on the farm and determined the farm
size. Twenty-one tree species belonging to 14 botan-
ical families were recorded during the surveys and the
average stand density of the woody component of
farmlands was 7.97 ±5.43 stems/ha. A number of
both native and exotic tree species occurred in the
parkland agroforestry systems with dominance of
indigenous tree species. Species richness varied with
the size of household where households with small
land holding conserve more tree species in their field
than households with large land holdings. 64% of
households surveyed were making deliberate efforts to
plant tree species on their farmlands. The most
important reasons which determined household ambi-
tions to conserve woody species on farmland were tree
products contribution to food and medicine. Results
also showed that respondents who noticed that trees
were decreasing in the wild conserve more tree species
on their farmlands. This research highlights the role of
traditional agroforestry practices to support tree spe-
cies richness and provides evidence of the farms’ role
as biodiversity reservoirs.
Keywords Conservation indigenous species
Parkland agroforestry Socio-economic factors
Introduction
In the last three decades, agroforestry has been widely
promoted in the tropics as a natural resource manage-
ment strategy that attempts to balance the goals of
V. G. Fifanou (&)S. Brice
Laboratory of Applied Ecology, Faculty of Agricultural
Sciences, University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin),
Cotonou, Benin
e-mail: vodouhefifanou@yahoo.fr
C. Ousmane
International Institute of Tropical Agriculture,
08 B.P. 0932 Tri Postal, Cotonou, Benin
B. Gauthier
Department of Economy and Socio-Anthropology;
Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University
of Abomey-Calavi (Benin), Cotonou, Benin
123
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
DOI 10.1007/s10457-011-9377-4
agricultural development with the conservation of
soils, water, local and regional climate, and, more
recently, biodiversity (Schroth et al.2004). During this
period, most agroforestry researchers focused on
formal agroforestry and emphasized indicators such
as soil composition and crop yield, arrangements of
trees and agricultural crops on site scale of an
individual field (Buck et al.1998; Montambault and
Alavalapati 2005; McNeely and Schroth 2006). The
environmental services that agroforestry practices can
provide to local and even global society including
maintaining watershed functions, retaining carbon in
the plant–soil system, and, by supporting the conser-
vation of biological diversity, have only recently
attracted wider attention among agroforestry and
conservation scientists (McNeely and Scherr 2003;
Schroth et al.2004; McNeely and Schroth 2006).
In the past, the conservation of biodiversity has
been mostly understood in terms of the management
of protected areas and natural forests, ignoring the
possible role of farm areas and the ways through
which rural communities have promoted biodiversity
in their subsistence agricultural production systems
(Acharya 2006). Many authors have shown that
traditional agroforestry practices contribute to the
conservation of biodiversity through in situ conser-
vation of tree species on farms, reduction of pressure
on remnant forests, and the provision of suitable
habitat for a number of plant and animal species on
farmland (Atta-Krah et al.2004; Ouinsavi et al.2005;
Acharya 2006, McNeely and Schroth 2006). Trees in
these systems provide shade, shelter, energy, food,
fodder and many other goods and services that enable
the farmstead to prosper (Leakey and Tchoundjeu
2001; McNeely and Schroth 2006; Oke and Odebiyi
2007; Djossa et al.2008; Ouinsavi and Sokpon 2008).
Wild fruits supplement the daily diet, substitute for
exotic fruits, gain importance during periods of food
shortage and are important sources of income for
people through commercialization (Styger et al.
1999; Teklehaimanot 2004; Djossa et al.2008).
Although traditional agroforestry systems are less
diverse and less dense than natural forests (Backes
2001; McNeely and Schroth 2006; Oke and Odebiyi
2007), it is useful to know about them for supporting
sustainable biodiversity conservation. They represent
a series of practices implemented by individual
farmers and require in-depth social and economic
analyses to assess their economic viability, the factors
that influence their adoption and the limit of their
sustainability to guide future research efforts (Mont-
ambault and Alavalapati 2005; McNeely and Schroth
2006).
In parts of West Africa, traditional agroforestry
consists of maintaining useful seedlings or trees on
farmlands when preparing a plot for cropping (Boffa
1999; Lovett and Haq 2000; Ouinsavi and Sokpon
2008; Djossa et al.2008). To date, in Benin (West
Africa), despite the presence of trees on farmland
since the beginning of agriculture, knowledge about
their use has only recently been consolidated into the
science of agroforestry (Djossa et al.2008; Ouinsavi
and Sokpon 2008; Kyndt et al.2009), and much still
remains to be learned mainly concerning socio-
economic factors that support the practice of these
systems and their sustainability. This chapter will
focus on plant diversity within traditional agrofor-
estry parkland systems in the Pendjari Biosphere
Reserve and will show as well socio-economic
factors which affect the practice of this farming
system.
The Pendjari Biosphere Reserve is one of the best
managed protected areas in Benin. The main man-
agement objective for this reserve is the conservation
of local biodiversity. Knowing the increasing focus
on the role of agroforestry to help maintain a high
level of local biodiversity outside protected areas
(Schroth et al.2004) and considering the increasing
population density in the area, there is a need to
identify and promote land use strategies that are
compatible with the maintenance of the local biolog-
ical diversity.
Previous studies revealed that socio-economic and
environment factors such as land holding size and
tenure options, household size, income sources, num-
ber of livestock hold, tree species abundance in the
wild and variation in altitude affect agroforestry tree
species diversity and density (Gautam 1986; Malla and
Fisher 1988; Gray and Kevane 2001; Schuck et al.
2002; Acharya 2006; Bellow et al.2008). Indeed, it has
often been shown that large land holdings support
more tree species than small holdings (Gautam 1986;
Malla and Fisher 1988; Bellow et al.2008) while the
number of species per hectare was significantly related
to the size of the land holding, with smaller values for
larger farms (Bellow et al.2008). Based on prelimin-
ary results, we hypothesized that in the Pendjari
Biosphere Reserve, people limited in land access will
2 Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
123
support lower tree species diversity and higher densi-
ties. We also made the assumption that large land
holdings will support more tree species than small
holdings. The supposition was also made that people
who notice the decrease of tree species abundance in
the wild will support the highest tree diversity and
density in their agroforestry systems. The objective of
this chapter was to (1) assess species richness of
woody species within traditional agroforestry parkland
systems and (2) identify socio-economic factors which
support the practice of these systems by inhabitants
around the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve.
Method
Study area
The study took place in the Pendjari Biosphere
Reserve located in the north west of the Republic of
Benin (10°300to 11°30 N; 0°500to 2°000E; Fig. 1).
It was declared a Game Reserve in 1954, and
upgraded to a National Park in 1961, and to a
Biosphere Reserve in 1986 (IUCN 2002). The
reserve is not fenced, but its boundary is defined
by two peripheral roads. It covers an area of
4,661.4 km
2
.
The climate is of tropical type with a 7-months dry
period. Peak rainfall occurs between late May and
early October and the mean annual rainfall is
1,000 mm (Sinsin et al.2002). The annual mean
temperature varies from 25–28°C during the cooler
period of the dry season and 30–33°C during the hot
period of the dry season. Relative humidity varies
between 17 and 99% (PAG2 2005). The river
Pendjari is the only important one that carries water
all year round.
The landscape in the region is characterized by
savannah-land, cultivated land and fallow land.
Different types of savannah vegetation exist, includ-
ing open grasslands (Sinsin et al.2000; Adomou et al.
2007). The most dominant land use is subsistence
agriculture followed by livestock farming. Cultiva-
tion of subsistence crops and livestock raising occur
in a narrow band along the edge of the hunting
reserve. This is being addressed by the establishment
of ‘Controlled Access Zone’ (Fig. 1). Cultivated
crops include cotton, yams, maize, sorghum, cowpea,
groundnuts and rice (CENAGREF 2005).
The border of the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve is
lined with 20 small villages installed in the controlled
access zone along two axis roads between the hunting
zone and reserve border (Fig. 1). The population is
estimated at 30,000 inhabitants (CENAGREF 2005)
and is composed of three main ethnic groups: Berba,
Gourmantche and Waama.
Data collection and analysis
We collected data through a semi-structured survey
of 118 households in 7 villages using a questionnaire.
We chose the household as the research unit to collect
data taking into consideration the fact that the
household head is the decision maker concerning
agroforestry practices in the study area. In each
household, we interviewed one adult, usually the
household head or in their absence, any adult member
(C18 years old) willing to participate. We selected
our study villages based on the dominant ethnic group
in each of them; i.e. three Berba villages, two
Gourmantche villages and two Waama villages
(Table 1). Before executing the intensive household
survey, we tested the questionnaire in 10 households
in Kouale
´gou (one of the reserve surrounding village)
village and used the findings to improve it.
The questionnaire was written in French but the
interviews were entirely conducted on the field in
respondent local languages (Berba, Gourmantche and
Waama). We established contact with each respon-
dent and introduced the objectives of the study. If the
first contact was done with the respondent at house,
we planned with him to visit his field and the
interview is done there. During the interview; we
inventoried the number of tree on the farm and
determined the farm size. Most of the questions were
closed-ended, and we collected information on the
reasons which motivate the decision to integrate
indigenous trees into the farming system. We didn’t
include shrubs present on the land during data
collection in this survey. The survey elicited infor-
mation on household characteristics such as demo-
graphic characteristics, land tenure, ethnic group
affiliation, educational level and their perception on
integrated species abundance in the wild. Concerning
land tenure, we collected information on the different
land tenure option in the study area and specifically
how the respondent obtained the land he uses. In
contrary to species relative abundance, the perception
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13 3
123
of the abundance of a given species, which indirectly
expresses its availability in the natural context, also
represents a factor which influences people’s choice
to integrate or not the species in the farmland (Pieroni
2001). Data were also collected on the income the
respondent got from each species integrated in
respondents’ farmland. During the survey we orga-
nized one focus group discussion per ethnic group
involved in the study to obtain more details on the
kind of species that are integrated into the systems.
About 15 men and women participated in each focus
group discussion and the discussion lasted approxi-
mately 2 h.
During focus group discussions and household
surveys, respondents listed species by their local
names, which were later identified taxonomically
based on species collection. For this reason, during
the interviews, we used a field herbarium, an
Fig. 1 Map of Pendjari
Biosphere Reserve in the
northern part of Benin
(West Africa), illustrating
the location of surrounding
villages and different zones
as suggested by the
biosphere reserve concept
4 Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
123
illustrated reference book of Arbonnier (2000), and
Benin Analytic Flora (Akoe
`gninou et al.2006)to
identify plant species. We collected samples of the
species that we could not identify directly in the field
and conducted their taxonomic identification at the
National Herbarium of Benin, at the University of
Abomey-Calavi, where all plant species known to be
native to Benin are conserved as voucher specimens.
We used a Poisson regression which is a form of a
Generalized Linear Model (GLM) to identify a set of
explanatory variables which affect the density and
species richness in agroforestry parkland systems.
The following socio-economic factors: household
size, land tenure, land holding size, income from
parkland trees, species abundance in the wild, ethnic
group affiliation and their interaction were used in the
model. As mentioned above, these factors were
identified in previous studies as affecting agroforestry
tree species diversity and density (Gautam 1986;
Malla and Fisher 1988; Gray and Kevane 2001;
Schuck et al. 2002; Acharya 2006; Bellow et al.
2008). The choice of Poisson regression to analyze
data is justified by the fact that the dependent variable
is count variable (number of species observed in each
exploitation) (Fahrmeir and Tutz 1994).
Results
Species richness in traditional agroforestry
parkland system
During the household survey, a total of 21 plant
species (14 families) of which 12 were food tree
species were recorded as present on farms while 27
species representing 17 families were cited during the
focus group discussions (see Table 5). Only species
recorded during the household survey were included
in the detailed analyses reported below. The average
species richness per exploitation was three. The most
represented family was Anacardiaceae with five
species, followed by Leguminosae with four species.
Ten families were represented by only one species.
The three most frequent species were Vitellaria
paradoxa (present on 90% of farmlands), Parkia
biglobosa (present on 75% of farmlands) and Lannea
microcarpa (present on 29% of farmlands) (Fig. 2).
The average stand density of the woody component
of farmlands was 7.97 ±5.43 stems/ha and vary
according to species (Fig. 3).
Relationships between households’ socio-
economic and demographic characteristics
and the diversity and density of farm trees
In the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, socio-economic
and demographic factors such as household size and
land holding size affected significantly species rich-
ness in agroforestry parkland systems (Table 2). The
species richness increased with the size of household
(Fig. 4a) while the opposite tendency was observed
concerning the size of land holding per household.
Households with small land holding conserve more
tree species in their field than large land holdings
(Fig. 4b). The average species richness in household
with small land holding is 3.32 ±1.5 and 3.00 ±1.2
in households with large land holdings.
The survey results also revealed that the number of
trees per hectare was directly related to the size of the
land holding and local perception of species abun-
dance in the wild (Table 3). The small land holdings
support the highest number of trees (Fig. 5). Further-
more, people’s perception on the declining of species
abundance in the wild increases the density of tree
species in the traditional agroforestry parkland sys-
tems. Local people perception about species’ abun-
dance in the wild relies mainly on the facility they
have to obtain species products.
Although the majority of tree species integrated
into the traditional agroforestry parkland systems
Table 1 Characteristics of
research sample showing
number of households per
gender and ethnic groups
Gender expresses the sex of
household head
Ethnic groups Number of
villages
Gender Total
Male Female
Berba (N=41) 3 37 (31%) 4 (3%) 41 (35%)
Wama (N=40) 2 36 (31%) 4 (3%) 40 (34%)
Gourmanche
´(N=37) 2 34 (29%) 3 (3%) 37 (31%)
Total 7 107 (91%) 11 (9%) 118 (100%)
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13 5
123
were multipurpose species, the reasons which support
farmers’ choice to protect them on their farmlands
vary according to household view. The most impor-
tant reasons were tree products contribution to food
and medicine followed by commercialization of tree
fruits, use of tree shade during farm activities and
species contribution to soil fertility improvement
(Fig. 6). The income from tree species in traditional
agroforestry parkland systems varied significantly
according to the kind of species (v
2
=32.56;
Fig. 2 Frequency of the six most encountered tree species in traditional agroforestry parkland systems in Pendjari Biosphere Reserve
Fig. 3 Average stand density of the six most encountered tree species in the fields
Table 2 Socio-economic
and demographic factors
affecting species richness in
parkland agroforestry
systems
Source Wald Chi-Square Df Probability
Household size 7.223 1 0.007
Land holding size 3.095 1 0.049
Household size * land holding size 1.319 1 0.251
6 Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
123
P=0.0001). Parkia biglobosa turned out to have
the higher number of marketable products followed
by Vitellaria paradoxa and Lannea microcarpa
(Fig. 7).
The mean household size in the study area is
6.78 &7 members (INSAE 2002) while the mean
land holding per household in Benin is about
1.7 ha &7 (MAEP 2007).
Small households: B7 members; Large household:
[7 members
Small land holding B2 ha; Large land holding [7
2 ha.
Species integrated into the systems
In the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, a number of both
native and exotic tree species occur in the traditional
agroforestry parkland systems with the dominance of
indigenous tree species (85%) (see Table 5). The
implementation of these systems consists in main-
taining useful seedlings or trees on farmlands when
preparing a plot for cropping or the deliberate
farmers’ ambition to grow some useful species in
the field. 64% of households surveyed were making
deliberate efforts to plant some tree species on their
farmlands. Both indigenous (Vitellaria paradoxa,
Parkia biglobosa, Khaya senegalensis and exotic
(Mangifera indica,Eucalyptus camaldulensis) spe-
cies were planted by farmers. The main reasons
which motivate them were species contribution to
household nutrition (65%), its commercialization
potential (30%) and its use as building materials
(5%). The average species richness of planted trees
was one per exploitation. On the other hand, the
land tenure system was an important factor which
determines farmers’ choice to plant trees (Table 4).
The highest species richness was observed with
households that inherited land from their parents
(Fig. 7).
Fig. 4 Effect of household
size and land holding size
on the tree species richness
in traditional agroforestry
parkland systems in the
Pendjari Biosphere Reserve
Table 3 Socio-economic
and demographic factors
affecting species density in
parkland agroforestry
systems
Source Wald Chi-Square Df Probability
Land holding size 7.707 1 0.006
Local perception of species abundance 5117.26 3 0.0001
Land holding size * local perception
of species abundance
1.235 2 0.539
Fig. 5 Effect of land holding size on the tree species density
in traditional agroforestry parkland systems in the Pendjari
Biosphere Reserve
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13 7
123
Discussion
Species diversity in traditional agroforestry
parkland systems
Traditional agroforestry parkland systems in the
Pendjari Biosphere Reserve maintain a level of
woody species richness which may contribute to
biodiversity conservation at national, regional or even
international level. This finding highlights the impor-
tance of local socio-economic and environmental
factors on agroforestry systems diversity shown by
Montambault and Alavalapati (2005), Acharya
(2006), McNeely and Schroth (2006), and Bellow
Fig. 6 Reasons which
support species integration
in traditional agroforestry
parkland systems
Fig. 7 Annual mean
income got from the five
most marketable tree
species in traditional
agroforestry parkland
systems in the Pendjari
Biosphere Reserve ($US
1*450 FCFA)
Table 4 Socio-economic
and demographic factors
affecting farmers’ choice to
plant trees in agroforestry
parkland systems
Source Wald Chi-Square Df Probability
Land tenure 7.536 2 0.006
Land holding size 0.122 1 0.333
Household size 2.199 1 0.133
Household size * land tenure 1.432 2 0.489
Household size * land holding size 2.254 1 0.489
Land holding size * land tenure 0.792 2 0.673
8 Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
123
et al.(2008). It also highlights the role of traditional
agroforestry practices to support tree species richness
and provides evidence of farms as biodiversity
reservoirs which merit more research and develop-
ment attention. Indeed, more than 85% of woody
species present on the farmlands are local multipur-
pose species that farmers protect or grow in their
fields. As shown by Atta-Krah et al.(2004), Acharya
(2006), McNeely and Schroth (2006), Ouinsavi and
Sokpon (2008), agroforestry parkland systems as
other traditional agroforestry practices support biodi-
versity through in situ conservation of tree species on
farms and the choice of integrated tree species in the
farming systems is guided by many reasons peculiar
to farmers. This confirms Boffa (1999), Styger et al.
(1999) and Lovett and Haq (2000) in their opinion
that phytodiversity in traditional agroforestry is
mostly dominated by tree species that are useful for
the local population. Concerning the case of the
Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, tree species contribution
into household nutrition and health care were the two
main reasons which support their integration in the
system. Moreover, for the majority of respondents
surveyed, the choice of multipurpose species in the
system is done on profit basis. It is expected that these
species provide marketable products that will gener-
ate additional income to resource households espe-
cially during dry season when people are facing food
shortage problems. The importance of income from
tree species explains the difference in the frequency
with which each kind of tree species were met in
farmland. P. biglobosa and V. paradoxa; the most
marketable species were also the most frequently met
on the field. Therefore, parkland agroforestry systems
play two important roles. They support local biodi-
versity conservation through indigenous species’
integration as part of farming system and they also
contribute to household well being. Traditional
agroforestry systems may be seen as a possible
approach to contribute to increase livelihood security
and poverty reduction, thereby providing incentives
for forest conservation and sustainable use.
Factors supporting traditional agroforestry
parkland systems
Land holding size and tenure options are important
factors which intervene in peasant choice of farming
systems (Malla and Fisher 1988; Gray and Kevane
2001; Schuck et al. 2002; Acharya 2006; Bellow
et al.2008). Concerning parkland agroforestry
practice in the study area, the highest species richness
per hectare was found with household with small land
holding. Indeed, despite their limited access to land
for farming activities, these producers diversified the
woody species in their farm in view to benefit from
tree products which serve the dual purpose of
providing food for the family and also a valuable
cash crop that can be sold to resource household. This
finding is consistent with results from Johnson and
Delgado (2005); Acharya (2006) and Bellow et al.
(2008) who concluded that for small farmers the
maintenance of diversified tree cover within a small
farm area is an element of their livelihood strategy.
This strategy to get additional resources from farm
trees was also perceptible in the number of trees
integrated in the farming system by small farmers.
They concentrated the highest woody species density
and especially multipurpose tree species. Therefore,
contrary to the common thinking, the limited access
to land for farming activities doesn’t have negative
impact on biodiversity conservation within parkland
agroforestry systems.
Furthermore local people make deliberate efforts
to plant both Indigenous and exotic tree species on
their farmlands. This is a good local strategy to
support biodiversity conservation in the area above
all of the main integrated tree species are indigenous
and reinforces the importance of the role played by
useful species in local community livelihood. The
smaller numbers of tree species planted on small
farms despite the high tree density observed with
small household land holding reflect the limited land
availability for tree planting (Acharya 2006; Bellow
et al.2008). Indeed, in the study area, local people are
limited in local species growing due to the lack of
knowledge about species’ biology and the negative
effect of their shade on annual crops. This limits the
sustainability of traditional agroforestry parkland
systems in the area. Complementary studies are
needed to improve the potential of these farming
systems and support in situ biodiversity conservation.
As regards the influence of land tenure option on
tree species planted by farmers in agroforestry
parkland systems, results show that the most impor-
tant species richness was observed with household
who inherited land from their parents. Indeed, land
tenure in the study area is based on ‘first use and
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13 9
123
continuous occupancy’. The first individual to clear
and cultivate forestland owns the land so long as the
land is used continually. He can give it in inheritance
to his descendants or as gift to other interested
community members. Land owners can also loan out
the land to interested farmers to use it for annual crop
production. Farmers who loan land are not allowed to
grow woody species on it. In some cases, by mutual
agreement with land owner, farmer who loans the
piece of land can harvest fruits and other products
from trees on farmlands but quite often, the trees
remain the land owner’s property. This could explain
the lower species richness of planted tree observed
with households which use this land tenure option.
The high influence of land tenure options on farmers’
choice to grow woody species on their farmlands has
been showed in other studies (Johnson and Delgado
2005; Bogale et al. 2006). Therefore, it will be useful
to secure land tenure for any action to support the
sustainability of traditional agroforestry parkland
systems.
Contrary to previous studies (Gautam 1986; Malla
and Fisher 1988; Bellow et al.2008), results
revealed that the highest species richness per land
holding was found in large sized households. The
same tendency was observed considering the house-
hold size and density of tree species planted on the
farmlands. The highest tree density observed in large
household would be a consequence of difference in
value accorded to useful species by household
members shown in other studies (Kvist et al.2001;
Dalle and Potvin 2004; Camou-Guerrero et al.
2008). Indeed, people in any given community do
not use and value all plant species equally. The
ambitions of each household member to guarantee
the sustainability and more control on the most
useful species to him increase tree species diversity
in the field. This finding appears to confirm result
from Acharya (2006) who found the highest number
of tree species per land holding in medium and large
sized households. Thus, although the increasing
demography is often seen as responsible of the lost
of biodiversity, it could contribute to its conserva-
tion trough traditional agroforestry systems practices
improvement.
The contribution of traditional agroforestry park-
land systems to in situ biodiversity conservation
is also perceptible considering the influence of
individual perception of species abundance in the
wild on tree species density within agroforestry
parklands systems. People are more favorable to
conserve in their fields the species that they perceive
less available in the wild. This finding appears to
confirm previous results from Murniati et al.(2001)
who found that in the area where timber is the main
product harvested from forest, farmers expressed a
strong interest in growing high-quality timber in their
mixed gardens to insure a future timber supply. Like
in our case study one factor encouraging households
to consider growing timber is the sheer difficulty of
harvesting a tree and dragging it five kilometers out
of the reserve. In the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve
case, local people’s perception of species abundance
rely more on species products’ accessibility.
Although the major part of woody species present
on the farmlands seems to be available, due to the
economic attractiveness of their products, the free
access to harvest species products is steadily decreas-
ing. Contrary to the past, land owners exert more
control on useful species in their field and people are
not allowed to exploit them without permission.
Moreover, nobody can get in the reserve to exploit
useful species if they didn’t receive authorization
from the responsible entities (Village Associations
for the Management of Wildlife Reserves) and the
authorization is given only to affiliated people who
regularly pay their licence. Due to these restrictions,
farmers are more willing to have useful species on
their own land. This is a very important indigenous
sustainable use strategy which could be improved by
conservationists and researchers to reduce pressure
on reserve resources.
Conclusion
This study helps to describe traditional agroforestry
parkland systems richness in woody species and the
socio-economic factors which support the practice of
this farming system. It revealed that rural people not
only depend on wild plants as sources of food,
medicine and fodder, but also developed methods of
resource management, which may be important for
the conservation of some of the world’s important
species and habitats. Knowing the importance of
biodiversity conservation to responsible in charge of
10 Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13
123
the Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, traditional agrofor-
estry systems would be useful tools to reduce
pressure on reserve resources and create a favorable
environment for many plant species. The improve-
ment of parklands agroforestry systems could help to
reduce conflicts between reserve responsible and
local communities concerning land access for farm-
ing activities.
Acknowledgments This study was funded by Man and
Biosphere—United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (MAB-UNESCO). We are grateful to
Pendjari local communities who participated in this research, to
Orou G. Gaoue
´, Doris Mutta and Goetz Schroth for useful
discussion on earlier version of this paper. We are grateful to
Wilfried Bonou and Michae
¨l Tindangou for their helpful
assistance.
Appendix
See Table 5.
Table 5 Species listed by participants as present in parkland traditional agroforestry system with their priority uses
Species Family Species origin Source Main use
Afzelia africana Leguminosae Indigenous FG ?HS Buil.
Balanites aegyptiaca Balanitaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Med.
Daniellia oliveri Leguminosae Indigenous FG ?HS Buil.
Mangifera indica Anacardiaceae Exotic FG ?HS Food
Adansonia digitata Bombacaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Anacardium occidentalae Anacardiaceae Exotic FG ?HS Food
Anogeissus leiocarpus Annonaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Med.
Azadirachta indica Meliaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Med.
Bombax costatum Bombacaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Borassus aethiopum Boraginaceae Indigenous FG Food
Burkea africana Leguminosae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Citrus sp Rutaceae Exotic FG Food
Combretum nigricans Combretaceae Indigenous FG Med.
Diospyros mespiliformis Ebenaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Eucalyptus camaldulensis Myrtaceae Exotic FG ?HS Med.
Ficus sycomorus Moraceae Indigenous FG Med.
Ficus thoningii Moraceae Indigenous FG Med.
Khaya senegalensis Meliaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Med.-Buil.
Lannea acida Anacardiaceae Indigenous FG Food-Med.
Lannea microcarpa Anacardiaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Parkia biglobosa Mimosaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Pterocarpus erinaceus Fabaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Med.
Sclerocarya birrea Anacardiaceae Indigenous FG Food
Spondias mombin Anacardiaceae Indigenous HS Food
Sterculia setigera Sterculiaceae Indigenous HS Med.
Tamarindus indica Leguminosae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Terminalia avicennioides Combretaceae Indigenous FG Med.
Vitex doniana Verbenaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
Vittelaria paradoxa Sapotaceae Indigenous FG ?HS Food
HS mean that the species have been cited during household survey and FG reveal species cited during the focus group discussions
Agroforest Syst (2011) 82:1–13 11
123
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