Open Journal of Forestry
2013. Vol.3, No.3, 79-87
Published Online July 2013 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 79
Local Communities Demand for Food Tree Species and the
Potentialities of Their Landscapes in Two Ecological Zones of
Burkina Faso
Daniabla Natacha Edwige Thiombiano1*, Niéyidouba Lamien2,
Ana M. Castro-Euler3, Barbara Vinceti4, Dolores Agundez5, Issaka Joseph Boussim1
1Laboratoire de Biologie et d’Ecologie Végétales, Université de Ouagadougou, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
2Département de Production Forestière, Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles, Koudougou,
Burkina Faso
3Instituto Estadual de Floresta, Embrapa Amapa Rodovia Juscelino Kubitschek, Macapa, Brazil
4Bioversity International, CGIAR, Headquaters: Via Dei TreDenari, Rome, Italy
5INIA-CIFOR, Dpto Sistemas y Recursos Forestales, Carretera de la Coruña, Madrid, Spain
Email: *
Received March 19th, 2013; revised May 23rd, 2013; accepted June 9th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Daniabla Natacha Edwige Thiombiano et al. This is an open access article distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
We examined demand and supply of Food Tree Species (FTS) products in Burkina Faso. The hypotheses
were: 1) demand for FTS products by local communities exceeds what can be sustainably extracted, and 2)
local communities of the Sudanian zone have access to more diverse FTS products compared to Sahelian
zone. Surveys were conducted in 300 households and 360 quadrats in landscapes surrounding 6 villages
to determine the diversity, richness and availability of FTS. The results indicate that local communities
tend to exploit FTS which are rare to find or absent in the landscape surrounding their village. While the
range of FTS largely exploited tends to coincide across the two ecological zones, the diversity and density
of the preferred FTS are discordant between the two zones. The results of the present study further sup-
port the need for conservation and restoration strategies to sustain the local communities demand for FTS
Keywords: Human Feeding; Food Security; Indigenous Knowledge; Quantitative Ethnobotany; Diversity,
Globally, 1.6 billion people strongly rely on forest resources
for their livelihoods (Pimental et al., 1997). In most developing
countries, forested landscapes play an important role for poor
individuals and households (Langat & Cheboiwo, 2010). In
sub-Saharan Africa, dry forest and woodlands surrounding rural
settlements supply a vast array of wild natural resources (i.e.,
firewood, food, construction materials, medicine and fibers) for
home consumption and sale (Shackleton & Gumbo, 2010).
In Burkina Faso, the basic diet in rural areas is not very di-
verse. The thick porridge processed from millet, sorghum or
maize flour, locally referred to as “Tô”, associated with sauce
containing vegetables and condiments, constitutes the staple
food. It is daily cooked five times per week and represents 83%
of household meals (Soulama, 1990). Apart from the sauce,
which can contain a variety of ingredients, starch is the main
nutrient found in the porridge. With such dietary habits, what
contributes to alleviating nutritional deficiencies in the diet of
this country? Many studies have shown the pivotal role that
Food Tree Species (FTS) play in balancing diets as additional
ingredients and snacks, serving as staple foods during food
shortage periods, and generating income that enables to buy
additional food products not available locally. Mertz et al.
(2001) and Kristensen & Lykke (2003) in their studies in the
south eastern and the south central parts of Burkina Faso re-
spectively, have reported that about 17 trees species are used by
local communities as ingredients for sauces or condiments.
Products from a total of 21 fruit tree species were found to be
consumed as snacks by children (Lamien et al., 2009). Accord-
ing to Shackleton et al. (2011) and Thiombiano et al. (2012),
forests and woodlands supply rural dwellers with a wide range
of foods, and contribute to food security and nutrition directly
and indirectly by providing fruits, seeds and leaves. Most fre-
quently, women are responsible for gathering, processing and
selling non-timber forest products, generating income or using
the products for home consumption; these activities indicate the
key role played by women in food security strategies (Hasalkar
& Jadhav, 2004; Shackleton et al., 2011).
Unfortunately, a sustainable provision of products and ser-
vices by forest ecosystems is being threatened by their increas-
ing degradation and accelerated conversion of forest land to
alternative land uses (Langat & Cheboiwo, 2010). FAO (2001)
statistics indicate that tropical regions lost 15.2 million hectares
of forests per year during the 1990s. In Burkina Faso, Ouéd-
*Corresponding author.
raogo et al. (2010) found that conversion of forest land to crop-
land proceeded at an annual rate of 0.96%, while human popu-
lation density shifted from 17 to 30 inhabitants/km2 in the 20
years between 1986 and 2006. Among the drivers of land use
change, Paré (2008) identified demographic and economic fac-
tors as key ones, and detected a close correlation between bio-
diversity status or change in African ecosystems and the spa-
tio-temporal variation in human population density, following
the common pattern of a positive relationship between an in-
creasing population density and magnitude of the threats to
Ethnobotanical research, in combination with quantitative
ecological sampling methods, based on the use of plots or tran-
sects, has gained considerable importance over last decades
(Cotton, 1996; Thomas et al., 2009). Despite the many ethno-
botanical studies carried out in Burkina Faso (Mertz et al., 2001;
Kristensen & Lykke, 2003; Belem et al., 2008; Lamien et al.,
2009), up to now, little work has been undertaken using quanti-
tative ethnobotany approaches, which enable to assess the sus-
tainability in exploitation of non-timber forest products by local
communities, and whether demand for these products goes
beyond the potential supply. Knowledge of these elements is of
paramount importance to gear policy-making towards a more
sustainable use of the diversity of woody species, in a context
of expanding cultivated lands due to a rapid population growth
and of increasingly unpredictable precipitation patterns. The
aim of the present study is to establish evidence that local
communities demand for FTS products is exceeding the poten-
tial of their surrounding landscapes, thereby stimulating con-
servation and restoration actions. We formulated the following
hypotheses: 1) the demand for FTS products by local commu-
nities exceeds what can be sustainable extracted within the
surrounding landscape in both ecological zones, and 2) due to
the more favorable environmental conditions (i.e., higher rain-
fall), the local communities of the Sudanian zone have access to
a more diverse and richer range of FTS compared to those
within the Sahelian zone in Burkina Faso. Therefore, surveys
were conducted at households and landscape levels, to deter-
mine what FTS products are frequently used by households to
meet their food and income needs, and to understand what is
their availability in the surrounding landscapes.
Material and Methods
Study Area
The study was conducted at 6 sites located in the Sahelian
and Sudanian ecological zones of Burkina Faso as they are de-
scribed by Fontes and Guinko (1995). In each ecological zone
(Figure 1), 3 villages in the Sudanian zone (namely Barcé, Péni
and Sara) and 3 in the Sahelian zone (Barsalgho, Bourgou, &
Pobé-Mengao) were randomly selected for the study from
Burkina Faso’s INSD (2010) most recent census database. The
characteristics of the selected villages are summarized in Table
The sites in the Sahelian zone, the vegetation before human
Figure 1.
Location of the different study sites in Burkina Faso.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 1.
Characteristics of the study sites.
Ecological zones Villages No households % households
densities (Inh·km2)Coordinates Annual
rainfall (mm)
Barsalgho 1571 3 64 13˚25'N, 01˚04'W
Bourgou 353 14 48 13˚09'N, 00˚09'W
Pobé-Mengao 578 9 28 13˚53'N, 01˚46'W
400 - 600
Barcé 124 40 68 11˚36'N, 01˚16'W
Péni 659 8 82 10˚56'N, 04˚29'W
Sara 608 8 40 10˚57'N, 04˚25'W
700 - 1000
impact was semi-desert grasslands and thorny shrub lands to
wooded grasslands and bush land. The traditional parkland
systems (integrated crop-tree-livestock systems), are the main
source of food, income and environmental services, but are
rapidly deteriorating; biodiversity and cover of woody species
is being lost, soil fertility is declining from already low levels
due to exhaustive cropping practices and soil erosion (Bationo
et al., 2003).
The sites in the Sudanian zone, the original vegetation is
woodland and dry forest. At present, the main land uses type
are: fallow, agro-forestry parklands with food crops, pockets of
gallery forests without cultivation, some sacred hills. Clear-
cutting systems are used in areas under both short and long
term fallow.
Ethnobotanical Survey
In each ecological zone, 50 households per village were ran-
domly selected using the village households list from the most
recent population census database (INSD, 2010). A total of 300
informants from the selected 300 households were interviewed.
The informants were all female as it is known in the region that
women have a more significant role in the collection, trade and
processing of the majority of non-timber forest products
(Gausset et al., 2005). Using a semi-structured questionnaire,
informants were asked to list down all the tree species which
are sources of edible products, directly consumed as staple
foods, snacks, vegetables or as supplements to diets during food
shortage periods. Respondents were interviewed in isolation to
avoid influencing each other’s answers. Each interview was
carried out in the informant’s local language, in order to facili-
tate understanding of the questions and to obtain precise infor-
mation on local dietary habits.
Ecological Sampling
The FTS inventory was carried out in the landscapes sur-
rounding the 6 villages listed in Table 1. With regard to sam-
pling design, among the various methods for abundance estima-
tion described in Krebs (1999), line transect, based on individ-
ual quadrats as sampling units, was adopted, as recommended
by Mahamane and Saadou (2008) for the type of vegetation
found in the study sites. Four transects of 5 km each were es-
tablished north, south, west and east from each village, in order
to cover the FTS products harvesting areas around each village.
The results of surveys showed that women, who generally
cover long distances to harvest FTS products in the areas sur-
rounding the village, cannot go beyond 5 km from their houses.
Along each transect, a total of 15 quadrats of 50 × 50 m2 and 20
× 20 m2 were defined respectively for the inventory of adult
trees and seedlings (Mahamane & Saadou, 2008). A total of
360 quadrats were established in both Sahelian and Sudanian
zones. The distance considered between two quadrats was 333
m to cover the 5 km radius. The smaller quadrats to record
seedlings were sub-plots established within the larger quadrats
of 50 × 50 m2. FTS stems with girth 10 cm at 20 cm from the
soil were considered as adult trees while stems with girth < 10
cm were considered as seedlings (Zida, 2007). The list of FTS
to be inventoried was determined by the preferences expressed
in the households’ survey, in the same village. The number of
stems of adult trees and seedlings was recorded.
Data Analysis
To establish the list of FTS and their relative importance in
the households, the frequency of use per species was estimated
by taking into account the proportion of times a plant was men-
tioned out of the total number of interviews. This technique
reveals the relative importance of each cited species. The adult
stems and seedlings densities of each species was estimated by
extrapolating the number of individuals found in the 50 × 50 m2
and quadrats to a hectare. Descriptive statistics
were computed from these derived variables. To compare adult
trees and seedlings densities within and between ecological
zones, the dataset was submitted to normality test. The Kol-
mogrov-Smirnov statistic was significant, indicating a vio-
lation of the assumption of normality. The comparison was
therefore, performed using the Mann-Whitney U test, alterna-
tive to the independent-samples t-test (Pallant, 2010).
2020 m
Among the various indices of diversity found in the literature,
the reciprocal of Simpson’s (D) index was used to estimate the
FTS richness, as it provide a good estimate of diversity for a
relatively small sample size (Magurran, 2004). The index was
derived from households surveys and landscape-scale FTS
inventories. We assumed the household similar to the quadrat in
terms of number of species cited or found in the different units.
The Richness Shared Index (RSI) suggested by Ladio and
Lozada (2004) was adopted to analyze the richness cited per
informant or found per quadrat with respect to the total richness
mentioned by the total number of people interviewed or found
in the total number of quadrats. An independent sample t-test
was used to compare the Simpson reciprocal diversity index
(1/D) and the Richness Share Index (RSI) between ecological
zones and between households’ survey and landscapes FTS
data, which were normally distributed. The guidelines for
Cohen (1988) partial eta squared statistic (ηp
2), reported in Pal-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 81
lant (2010), were used for effect size interpretation.
In order to determine how the species used in the households
or found in the quadrats are similar among the different plant
communities, we computed the Jaccard (JSI) and Morisita-Horn
(CMH) similarity indices (Magurran, 2004). The different sec-
ondary variables were calculated using the Microsoft Office
Excel 2007 and all the statistical analyses were performed with
IBM SPSS Statistic 19.
Importance of FTS in Ho us eholds and Landscape s
The proportion of households which have indicated a particu-
lar species as source of food, and the proportion of quadrats
where this species was found, according to the ecological zone,
are presented in Table 2. A total of 30 FTS from 16 families
were recorded in the household surveys and quadrat inventories.
The inventory data showed that 13 species were common to the
two ecological zones, 5 were specific to the Sahelian zone and
12 were specific to the Sudanian zone. The households survey
resulted in 10 common species, 5 restricted to the Sahelian and
10 to the Sudanian zone.
In both ecological zones, species such as Adansonia digitata,
Lannea microcarpa, Parkia biglobosa and Vitellaria paradoxa
were mentioned by more than 70% of the respondents as
sources of food, but were seldom found in the quadrats of the
landscapes surrounding the villages, with the exception of
Vitellaria paradoxa and Parkia biglobosa which were respec-
Table 2.
Proportions (%) of households (n = 300) and quadrats (n = 360) where FTS were recorded in the two ecological zones of Burkina Faso.
Sahelian zone Sudanian zone
Households Quadrats Households Quadrats
Adansonia digitata 98 8 95 2
Afzelia africana 0 0 14 3
Annona senegalensis 0 0 5 15
Balanites aegyptiaca 1 66 1 7
Bombax costatum 74 1 28 10
Boscia senegalensis 6 9 0 0
Cadaba farinosa 3 4 0 0
Capparis corymbosa 0 0 2 1
Ceiba pentandra 0 0 5 0
Detarium microcarpum 1 0 11 13
Diospyros mespiliformis 4 4 0 16
Ficus sycomorus 0 1 1 1
Gardenia erubescens 0 0 13 2
Grewia bicolor 0 3 0 4
Landolphia heudelotii 0 0 10 1
Lannea acida 0 0 0 23
Lannea microcarpa 91 4 86 15
Leptadenia hastata 57 0 5 0
Maerua crassifolia 5 4 0 0
Parkia biglobosa 81 0 97 32
Piliostigma reticulatum 0 35 0 6
Saba senegalensis 39 1 73 1
Sclerocarya birrea 0 13 16 6
Securidaca longepedunculata 0 0 0 8
Strychnos spinosa 0 0 11 11
Tamarindus indica 1 7 0 2
Vitellaria paradoxa 71 3 97 77
Vitex doniana 1 0 17 6
Ximenia americana 0 2 19 5
Ziziphus mauritiana 0 12 0 0
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
tively encountered in 77% and 32% of the quadrats in the Su-
danian zone. Some species such as Afzelia africana, Gardenia
erubescens, Landolphia heudelotii, Vitex doniana and Xime-
nia americana were restricted to the Sudanian zone. On the
opposite, very few informants from the Sahelian zone men-
tioned Balanites aegyptica and Piliostigma reticulatum as sour-
ces of food although they were encountered in 66% and 35% of
the quadrats respectively. In the Sudanian zone, important spe-
cies with similar use and presence patterns were Lannea acida
(cf. 23% and 0% from household surveys and quadrat invento-
ries, respectively) and Diospyros mespiliformis (cf. 16% and 0%
from household surveys and quadrat inventories, respectively).
Piliostigma reticulatum and Securidaca longepedunculata were
not recorded in household surveys as sources of food but these
two species were considered in the quadrat inventories because
it is well known from other sources that these species are used
as food ingredients. Leptadenia hastata, a liana, was reported
by half of the households in the Sahelian zone and few house-
holds in the Sudanian zone but the FTS inventory did not in-
clude it.
Landscapes’ Potentialities of Food Tree Species
The potentialities of FTS in the landscapes are expressed in
terms of list of the species that occur in the area, and the density
of their adult trees and seedlings in the two ecological zones
(Table 3). A Mann-Whitney U test revealed greater seedlings
densities than adult trees, both in the Sahelian zone (seedlings
Table 3.
Adult trees and seedlings of FTS densities (Stems/ha ± sd) in the two ecological zones of Burkina Faso.
Sahelian zone Sudanian zone
Adult trees Seedlings Adult trees Seedlings
Acacia macrostachya 0 ± 0 9 ± 6 0 ± 0 15 ± 10
Adansonia digitata 5 ± 3 4 ± 0 8 ± 7 4 ± 0
Afzelia africana 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 7 ± 6 32 ± 17
Annona senegalensis 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 13 ± 11 76 ± 72
Balanites aegyptiaca 15 ± 12 54 ± 65 10 ± 6 19 ± 16
Bombax costatum 8 ± 6 8 ± 0 5 ± 2 14 ± 10
Boscia senegalensis 11 ± 10 36 ± 31 0 ± 0 0 ± 0
Cadaba farinosa 5 ± 2 11 ± 11 0 ± 0 0 ± 0
Capparis corymbosa 0 ± 0 9 ± 4 4 ± 0 4 ± 0
Detarium microcarpum 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 24 ± 28 83 ± 100
Diospyros mespiliformis 10 ± 6 11 ± 8 7 ± 5 32 ± 35
Ficus ingens 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 9 ± 2
Ficus sycomorus 4 ± 0 0 ± 0 10 ± 8 4 ± 0
Gardenia erubescens 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 9 ± 5 35 ± 12
Grewia bicolor 5 ± 2 8 ± 0 4 ± 0 13 ± 6
Landolphia heudelotii 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 4 ± 0 11 ± 9
Lannea acida 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 8 ± 6 23 ± 14
Lannea microcarpa 5 ± 2 4 ± 0 10 ± 7 13 ± 12
Maerua angolensis 0 ± 0 5 ± 2 0 ± 0 4 ± 0
Maerua crassifolia 5 ± 2 15 ± 13 0 ± 0 0 ± 0
Parkia biglobosa 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 10 ± 8 17 ± 17
Piliostigma reticulatum 10 ± 10 66 ± 96 9 ± 7 21 ± 26
Saba senegalensis 4 ± 0 0 ± 0 6 ± 3 6 ± 4
Sclerocarya birrea 6 ± 3 9 ± 6 9 ± 7 17 ± 18
Securidaca longepedunculata 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 8 ± 6 62 ± 119
Strychnos spinosa 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 9 ± 9 69 ± 58
Tamarindus indica 6 ± 5 8 ± 0 5 ± 2 10 ± 8
Vitellaria paradoxa 4 ± 0 0 ± 0 25 ± 23 110 ± 163
Vitex doniana 0 ± 0 0 ± 0 4 ± 1 15 ± 12
Ximenia americana 4 ± 0 9 ± 2 5 ± 2 21 ± 19
Ziziphus mauritiana 7 ± 5 18 ± 17 0 ± 0 8 ± 6
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 83
Md = 16, N = 373 and adult trees , N = 322; U = 31322,
z = 11.08, p = 0.000, r = 0.42) and the Sudanian zone (seed-
lings Md = 24, N = 603 and adult trees Md = 8, N = 481; U =
72,503, z = 14.31, p = 0.000, r = 0.43). The eta squared values
2 = 0.42 in Sahelian zone and 0.43 in Sudanian zone) indi-
cate a large size effect within ecological zones.
Comparison between ecological zones revealed greater
densities in the Sudanian than the Sahelian zone both for
seedlings (Sudanian zone Md = 24, N = 603 and Sahelian zone
Md = 16, N = 373; U = 94,737, z = 4.16, p = 0 .000, r = 0.13)
and adult trees (Sudanian zone Md = 8, N = 481 and Sahelian
zone Md = 8, N = 322; U = 69,024, z = 2.74, p =0 .006, r =
0.10). The eta squared values (ηp
2 = 0.13 for seedlings and 0.10
for adult trees) also indicates a large effect between ecological
Richness and diversity of FTS in households and landscapes.
The species richness and diversity were measured through
the reciprocal of Simpson diversity index (1/D), the mean spe-
cies richness per households and quadrat, and the Richness
Share Index (RSI). These are presented in Table 4.
To determine the difference between Sahelian and Sudanian
zones in the 1/D estimated from households’ surveys and land-
scape FTS inventories, an independent-samples t-test was con-
ducted. There was no significant difference in 1/D both for
households (Sahelian M = 6.726, sd = 0.952 and Sudanian M =
6.145, sd = 0.576; t(4) = 0.905, p = 0.43 two-tailed) and land-
scapes (Sahelian M = 3.283, sd = 1.265 and Sudanian M =
3.330, sd = 0.276; t(4) = 0.063, p = 0.95 two-tailed). The
magnitude of the 1/D differences (means difference = 0.58,
95% CI = 1.202 to 2.365) was larger (ηp
2 = 0.16) for house-
holds survey data than for landscapes inventory data (means
difference = 0.047, 95% CI = 2.123 to 2.029; ηp
2 = 0.0009).
An independent-samples t-test was also conducted to com-
pare the reciprocal of Simpson indices (1/D) between house-
holds’ survey and landscape FTS inventory data sets within
each of the two ecological zones. There was a significant dif-
ference in 1/D both for the Sahelian zone (Households M =
6.726, sd = 0.952 and Landscapes M = 3.283, sd = 1.265; t(4) =
3.766, p = 0.020 two-tailed) and the Sudanian zone (House-
holds M = 6.145, sd = 0.576 and Landscapes M = 3.330, sd =
0.276; t(4) = 7.627, p = 0.002 two-tailed). The magnitude of the
1/D differences (households means difference = 3.44, 95% CI =
0.905 to 5.981; ηp
2 = 0.78-landscapes means difference = 2.81,
95% CI = 1.790 to 3.839; ηp
2 = 0.93) was considerable both for
Sahelian and Sudanian zones.
To compare the Richness Share Indices (RSI) between
households’ survey and landscape FTS inventory data sets in
the Sahelian and Sudanian ecological zones, an independent-
samples t-test was performed. There were significant differ-
ences in RSI both for Sahelian (Households M = 0.511, sd =
0.049 and Landscapes M = 0.019 sd = 0.00; t(2) = 17.494, p =
0.003 two-tailed) and Sudanian (Households M = 0.470, sd =
0.045 and Landscapes M = 0.018, sd = 0.000; t(2) = 17.53, p =
0.003 two-tailed). The magnitude of the RSI differences
(households means difference = 0.491, 95% CI = 0.028 to
0.370; ηp
2 = 0.99) and landscapes means difference = 0.452,
95% CI = 0.341 to 0.563; ηp
2 = 0.99) were large for both eco-
logical zones.
To compare the Richness Share Indices estimated from
households’ survey and landscape FTS inventory between Sa-
helian and Sudanian ecological zones, an independent-samples
t-test was conducted. There was no significant difference in RSI
for households data set (Sahelian M = 0.511, sd = 0.049 and
Sudanian M = 0.470, sd = 0.045; t(4) = 1.065 p = 0.35 two-
tailed), but significant difference for landscapes data set (Sahe-
lian M = 0.019 sd = 0.00 and Sudanian M = 0.018, sd = 0.000;
t(4) = 5.682, p = 0.005 two-tailed). The magnitude of the RSI
differences (means difference = 0.041, 95% CI = 0.065 to
0.146) was large (eta squared = 0.22) and not significant for
households data set, but greater and significant for landscapes
data set (means difference = 0.002, 95% CI = 0.001 to 0.003;
eta squared = 0.89).
Similarity of FTS between Ecological Zones and
Informants Data Set s
To measure FTS similarity between the Sahelian and Su-
danian zone, the Jaccard (JSI) and Morisita-Horn (CMH) simi-
larity indices were computed for households and landscapes
data sets (Table 5). The JSI, which is based on the presence or
absence of a species in a data set, indicates about 50% of simi-
larity between FTS occurring in the Sahelian and the Sudanian
zone, while the Morisita-Horn similarity index, which is based
on the number of individual of a species recorded in a data set,
indicates 86% of similarity between the two ecological zones
for household surveys data. At the landscapes scale, 45% of
similarity in FTS was detected between in the Sahelian and the
Sudanian landscapes, according to Jaccard index, while the
Table 4.
Species richness.
Sahelian zone Sudanian zone
Species richness Indices
Households Landscape Households Landscape
Nb of families 11 12 14 16
Nb Genus 15 17 20 23
Nb of Species (S) 15 18 20 25
Reciprocal of Simpson index (1/D) 6.726 ± 0.952 3.28 ± 1.27 6.145 ± 0.576 3.33 ± 0.28
Mean species richness per
household and quadrat 5 ± 0.1 2 ± 1 6 ± 0.1 3 ± 1
RSI 0.51 ± 0.03 0.02 ± 00 0.47 ± 0.03 0.02 ± 00
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Table 5.
Recorded FTS similarity between the Sahelian and Sudanian zones in households survey and landscapes inventory data sets in Burkina Faso.
Sahelian Sudanian
Ecological zones Origin of data sets
Household Landscape Household Landscape
Jaccard Similarity Index (JSI)
Household 1 0.55 0.50 0.43
Landscape 1 0.29 0.45
Household 1 0.69
Landscape 1
Morisita-Horn ’s Index of Similarity (CMH)
Household 1 0.04 0.86 0.39
Landscape 1 0.03 0.11
Household 1 0.74
Landscape 1
Morisita index indicated only 11% of similarity.
This study focuses on FTS products that rural communities
use and the potential of the landscape surrounding their villages,
to supply these products. Data were collected at households and
landscapes levels to measure whether the current demand of
FTS products by some selected rural communities in Burkina
Faso, matches the supplying capacity of the environment
around the villages, and assess whether exploitation patterns are
Our results indicate that rural communities are still using tree
species as source of food in Burkina Faso. A total of 30 species
were recorded in the two main ecological zones (Sahelian and
Sudanian). With regard to what species are considered most
important, the results of this study are supported by those ob-
tained from previous investigations: 15 tree species whose
products are used to prepare sauces and relishes were reported
also by Mertz et al. (2001); furthermore, 17 tree species which
are source of edible fruits and ingredients for sauces in the Su-
danian zone, were reported also by Kristensen and Lykke
(2003). Finally, 14 of the tree species recorded in this study as
supplements to diets in the Sahelian region were reported also
in a study by Ganaba et al. (2002). These results seem to indi-
cate a general consensus on what tree species constitute a nota-
ble source of foods, with some specificity according to eco-
logical regions.
Comparing frequencies of species occurrence in households
and landscape data sets, considerable differences emerged be-
tween ecological zones. In accordance with our first hypothesis,
some important FTS (according to household surveys) occurred
at low density in the landscapes surrounding the villages stud-
ied, suggesting limited potentialities of these species to match
the demands of FTS products. This situation was further sup-
ported by the low density of adults, except for Vitellaria para-
doxa in the Sudanian zone. For example, Parkia biglobosa was
recorded as important in 81% of the households surveyed in the
Sahelian zone but was totally absent in the landscapes sur-
rounding the study sites, both in the stage of seedlings and
adults. This indicates that its products were brought in the area
from sudanian areas and sold in the market place. Cunningham
(2000) reported that the first typical response to resource scar-
city is to increase the harvest range.
For most species, density of seedlings appeared greater than
that of adults, in each ecological zone, suggesting that condi-
tions are favorable to recruitment. Nevertheless, seedling densi-
ties seem low if compared to those reported by Bognounou et al.
(2009) for a tree species giving non edible products, Pteleopsis
suberosa (Combretaceae), with 21630 to 26120 individuals ha1
and those reported by Koadima (2008) for a FTS, Securidaca
longepeduncula (Polygalaceae), with 7600 individuals ha1 in
landscapes surrounding villages of the Sudanian zone. Authors
such as Boffa (2000) and Kozlowski (2002) pointed out the
difficulties encountered by most tree species to regenerate and
reach the adult stage, notably on annual cropland, due to vari-
ous factors (failure of seeds to germinate, predators, pathogens,
seedlings mortality and anthropogenic disturbances).
With regard to our second hypothesis about a predicted more
diverse and richer wealth of FTS in the Sudanian zone, com-
pared to the Sahelian zone, due to its higher rainfall, the com-
parison of the reciprocal of Simpson’s diversity indices be-
tween the two zones did not exhibit any difference both for
household surveys and landscape inventories datasets. The
similarities in landscapes data could be explained by the fact
that each zone has specific FTS but a large number of FTS are
common. Similarities in households data can be explained by
the fact that even if species such Parkia biglobosa and Deta-
rium microcarpa were absent from the Sahelian landscape in-
ventoried, these species appeared in the associated household
surveys because traders import their products from the Su-
danian zone. The trade of non-timber forest products across
regions in Burkina Faso is considerable. Kernels of Sclerocarya
birrea seeds and dry leaves of Adansonia digitata are largely
exported from the Sahelian to the Sudanian zone (Lamien &
Traoré, 2002), while flour and seeds of Parkia biglobosa, and
dry fruits of Detarium microcarpa, are exported from the Su-
danian to the Sahelian zone (Lamien N., personal observations
in 2008). Fresh fruits of Saba senegalensis and Lannea micro-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 85
carpa are also exported from production areas to main cities
(Lamien et al., 2010). The comparison of the 1/D index be-
tween households and landscapes data sets indicates greater
values of 1/D in households than landscapes data both in the
Sahelian and Sudanian zones. The explanation could be linked
to convergent customary habits, across households within the
same ecological zone, of exploitation of a well-defined set of
FTS, since ancestral times. Household surveys tend to produce
homogeneous results for what concerns the range of most used
species, with very limited differentiation. This is also supported
by Kristensen and Lykke (2003) who found that all their infor-
mants had given the same answer to 28% of their questions.
This suggests a consolidate transmission of traditional knowl-
edge from a generation to the next, generating a cultural inertia
in the use of natural resources found in the surrounding envi-
ronment (Ladio & Lozada, 2004; Cotton, 1996). This finding is
further supported by other results in this study, such as the
mean species richness per household and the RSI, whose values
also are greater compared to those found from the landscapes
data set; however, for these values, no significant difference
between the Sahelian and Sudanian zone was found, suggesting
convergent patterns between households of the two ecological
zones. Nevertheless, differences in landscapes’ RSI values
between the two ecological zones, although very low, were
significant, indicating a certain variability of species richness.
The high Jaccard Similarity Index did not support this situation
which seems more related to the species individuals as indi-
cated by the low Morisita-Horn’s similarity index.
In accordance with the first hypothesis formulated, this study
reveals that the demand of FTS products by local communities,
in some selected sites from two ecological zones of Burkina
Faso, is exceeding the supply generated within in the areas
surrounding the rural communities investigated. There is evi-
dence that without adequate forest conservation and restoration
initiatives, the areas surrounding villages will no longer meet
the demand for FTS products. Lack of availability in a particu-
lar region is compensated by import of products from other
areas. However, even those regions where climatic conditions
are more favorable to support a more diverse range of FTS (e.g.,
Sudanian ecological zone), the most important FTS occur at
low frequencies, both as seedlings and adults. The diversity and
richness of FTS used by local communities are similar across
the two regions, showing a tendency to utilize similar FTS.
This seems linked to customary habits. On the contrary to the
second hypothesis formulated in this paper, there is no evi-
dence that the range of FTS in the Sudanian zone is more di-
verse and richer compared to that of the Sahelian zone of
Burkina Faso, although densities of individual species are sig-
nificantly different between the two zones. Our results call for
conservation strategies to sustain the local communities’ food
tree species demand.
The authors are grateful to Africa-Brazil agricultural innova-
tion marketplace and the National Institute for Agricultural and
Food Scientific Research and Technology, (INIA, Spain),
through a collaboration between Bioversity International, the
Forest Research Center (CIFOR) of INIA, and several national
partners from African countries, under the umbrella of SA-
FORGEN, the sub-Saharan African Forest Genetic Resources
programme, which supported financially this study. Thanks to
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