Assessing use, diversity and local conservation priorities of woody species within agroforestry systems along Ouémé catchment in Benin (West Africa)

  • Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d'Estimations Forestières/Université d'Abomey-Calavi
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Ouémé catchment experiences increasing degradation of its natural resources due to anthropogenic pressure. Consequently, most of the agroforestry species as well as the cultural and Indigenous knowledge related to them are facing a very high risk of extinction. The present research aimed to assess the biodiversity of the useful woody species in this area and their cultural importance and then prioritize these woody species for conservation purpose. An ethnobotanical survey was carried out among 411 randomly selected households followed by an ecological survey conducted in 69 random plots of 0.15 ha. Ecological and ethnobotanical parameters were calculated and then analyzed. To determine the local priorities species for conservation, a local conservation priority index (LCPI) was computed for each species. The high value of LCPI for a given species indicates the need for a greater level of attention for conservation and management. Fortyfive useful woody species belonging to 21 families dominated by Leguminosae (24.44%) and Anacardiaceae (8.88%) were reported. The fortyfive species were categorized into six use categories by the informants: food, medicinal, construction, fuel, veterinary and technology. The most useful species were Elaeis guineensis (UV=0.24), followed by Parkia biglobosa (UV=0.19) and Vitellaria paradoxa (UV=0.18). The prioritization method yielded top ten ranked species: Parkia biglobosa, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Adansonia digitata, Milicia excelsa, Irvingia gabonensis, Vitex doniana, Prosopis africana, Diospyros mespiliformis, Afzelia africana and Vitellaria paradoxa. With the aim of establishing the sustainable management in the catchment, we suggest that more attention be paid to the aforementioned species as part of rehabilitation activities.

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... Additionally, several studies highlighted the negative effects of the forest degradation on many plants species (Gbaï et al. 2011;Vodounou et al. 2011). To restrain such degradation and its effects, in situ and ex situ conservation strategies are both urgently needed, and the integration of local knowledge into forest resources management practices is an important way (Ahoyo et al. 2017;Lokonon et al. 2017). ...
... In our previous study (Lokonon et al. 2017), we have inventoried woody species used by the local people in Ouémé catchment and general analysis was made on conservation priority of these species. Despite the presence of useful woody species in the agroforestry systems of this catchment, there is a limited understanding of the factors that determine their value in traditional communities and what woody species are priorities for local people. ...
... These species are often cited as most priority species for conservation in West Africa (Kristensen and Lykke 2003;Vodouhê et al. 2011;Sop et al. 2012;Assogbadjo et al. 2012). The essential criteria that lead to the choice of these species are the nutritional and socioeconomic values of their fruits and seeds (Nikiema 2005) and timber (Lokonon et al. 2017) to local people (species with highest values of parameters D and H). They are characterized by high commercial and nutritional value (Kristensen and Lykke 2003). ...
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The Ouémé catchment abounds an important diversity of woody plant species. However, harvesting pressure on these species seems to lead to threats of their sustainability. Despite this fact, few published studies concerning their conservation have been undertaken. In this regard, our study focused on (1) assessment of impact of socio-demographic factors and climatic zones on knowledge and use of the woody plant species; (2) assessment of the use status of each of these species and (3) ranking within each climatic zone these species according to their priority for conservation. A total of 411 randomly selected informants were interviewed through a semi-structured survey followed by a field survey in 69 random plots of 0.15 ha. Data from available literature were used to complete the surveys. Ecological and ethnobotanical parameters were computed, and the highest priority species for conservation were identified. The results showed significant difference in plant use between women and men, ethnic groups and climatic zones. However, age was not a determinant of plant knowledge. The findings also revealed that more than 50% of native species in the study area are underutilized or widely used by few people. Moreover, six species were identified as priorities and need high conservation efforts in the two climatic zones, namely: Parkia biglobosa, Pterocarpus erinaceus, Milicia excelsa, Prosopis africana, Afzelia africana and Khaya senegalensis. Non-governmental organizations, governments and agroforestry research institutions are entreated to incorporate these species in local development strategies aiming at sustainable management and long-term conservation of native species.
Parkia biglobosa (Jacq.) G. Don, Pterocarpus erinaceus Poir, Milicia excelsa (Welw.) C. C. Berg, Prosopis africana (Guill., Perrot. and Rich.) Taub., Afzelia africana Sm. and Khaya senegalensis (Desv.) A. Juss. are the most highly valued indigenous tree species in the agroforestry systems of the Ouémé catchment area. However, information on the population structure of these species is lacking, thus limiting the development of their sustainable conservation, utilization and restoration strategies. This study addressed this gap. It assessed the population structures and regeneration status of the six species from Don, Tan-Houègbo, Atchabita, Bétékoukou, Glazoué, Tchaorou, Zagnanado, Tévèdji, Sinaou and Bétérou along the catchment. Data were collected from 78 permanent rectangular plots (50 × 30 m) randomly installed within 10 provenances. Dendrometric data including diameter at breast height (dbh) of adult trees (dbh ≥ 10 cm), collar diameter, total height of seedlings and saplings, number of individuals per species according to adult, sapling and seedling were recorded. The population structure was described using ecological and dendrometric parameters (relative frequency, importance value index (IVI), mean densities, basal area, mean height), and diameter size-class distributions. Seedling:sapling and sapling:adult ratios were also computed and analyzed for determining regeneration patterns. Based on IVI, Parkia biglobosa (95.85%) and Khaya senegalensis (65.92%) were the most represented species in the catchment area. The analysis of variances showed that dendrometric parameters of the six species varied significantly between provenances. Seedling:sapling and sapling:adult ratios were
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