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It has become increasingly clear that improved natural resource management, including the management of agroforestry parklands, cannot be limited to the implementation of improved management and conservation techniques. For management to be successful and sustainable, institutional arrangements, including property and use rights and control and enforcement procedures are needed to ensure that farmers gain from their investment and that benefits to outsiders are controlled and possibly limited (Rochette, 1989; ARD, 1989; Lawry, 1989). The two major categories of institutional arrangements, which clearly affect the way in which villagers manage their natural resources include customary land and tree tenure, and state land and forest law.

Several important studies have raised awareness among forestry professionals of the pre-existing social and institutional systems surrounding forest management practices, and have suggested promising approaches to understanding tenure systems (Bruce, 1989; Freudenberger, 1994). Identifying who holds what tree tenure rights will help project designers avoid the unintended destruction of existing rights, the exclusion of certain groups from project benefits or the capture of the project by an elite for its own purposes (Fortmann, 1985). The study of the various institutions which govern the use of natural resources can also contribute to identifying the types of incentives which capture local interests for improved management. Tenure affects who has access to resources, whether people are willing to participate in project activities, and who benefits from a project.

As a complement to previous chapters which are concerned with a number of biophysical, cultural and economic factors influencing the sustainable management of agroforestry parklands, this chapter explores the ways in which the variety of complex land and tree tenure regimes affect parkland management. Both constraints and opportunities of traditional and legal institutions are reviewed and areas of improvement suggested. It is hoped that this review will enhance the relevance and efficiency of projects tackling the conservation and expansion of parklands, as well as research efforts in this field.

As suggested by Shepherd (1992), the separation of woodland management from management of trees on farmland is artificial because of the continuity between the two in land types, user domains, management practices and management institutions. First, lands alternate between farming and woodland regrowth stages through fallow cycles. Secondly, herders use the forest as a primary resource, while the forest provides important but somewhat secondary resources to crop growers. Finally, both land types are under the single governance of traditional authorities and the failure of state institutions to consider the management of both resources as a single entity has led to many current problems. Consequently, the primary focus of this chapter is on parkland resources, that is, cultivated or fallowed fields, though references to the forest are included when considered useful to capture this continuity.

Traditional tenure of agricultural land

Socio-economic organization and land allocation

Generally speaking, in rural West Africa, a number of extended families (households) including one or more nuclear family groups (one man, his wife or wives and children, or sub-households) reside in patrilineal or matrilineal compounds (see for instance Hammond, 1966; McMillan, 1986). Each household, or in some places, each sub-household represents a production unit corresponding to a group of people who usually work together and share a single cooking pot. The oldest male of each (sub)household is responsible for the nutritional and social needs of the household members, while they in exchange devote a large part of their working time to the cultivation of the household collective fields, the harvest from which feeds the household for most of the year and is under the control of the household head. Individuals (wives, older unmarried children) also have the right to cultivate some land for their private needs, giving them some autonomy from the household head, who may decide where these private plots are to be located. Crops produced privately are stored and can be used separately from the household granaries. Usually, women do not inherit individual land rights. Plots cultivated by married women and the cash income generated from them will be used to provide the food complements and goods for their own and their children's use. In places, land is also reserved for village community fields which are cultivated by members of each family on a collective basis under the control of the village head. The product is then used for needy families or community needs (McLain, 1990b).

Fig. 5.1

Fig. 5.1 The fibres extracted by these young women from palm petioles will be used to make ropes and baskets.
R. Faidutti

Through membership in a lineage, households inherit land which was first cleared and cultivated by a related ancestor. These rights are transmitted to descendants. The senior elder of the group is responsible for land allocation ensuring that the subsistence needs of the lineage members and their dependants are met equally. When not put into cultivation, allocated land can be ‘lost’ and its use granted to others by the customary lineage leader.

Modes of access to land

Tenure practices vary locally according to village settlement history and population density, the availability of unfarmed land and the political authority of the chieftaincy. These variations are reflected in the literature. From the various studies available, the following five traditional common avenues of acquiring land have been identified: by first occupancy, by inheritance, by gift, by customary authority and by borrowing. Traditionally, land is not individually appropriated because it is meant for the subsistence of the group and its posterity. However, the frequency of sharecropping arrangements, land rentals, pledging and purchases, especially in peri-urban areas and areas of high land value (orchards) has increased remarkably in the Sahel.

The first kind of land is acquired through the traditional clearing and cultivation of ‘bush’ or unoccupied and unfarmed land, when such land is still available. The consent of the village headman and the religious leader who often control this type of land is generally necessary before clearing the fields.

The second kind of fields are those which have become associated with a particular household through inheritance from father to son. They are the individual responsibility of the household head and their use and inheritance are not controlled by lineage elders. Women are usually excluded from this kind of inheritance (McLain, 1990b).

Donated land is a category acknowledged by a number of authors (Prudencio, 1983; Sanou, 1986; etc.). It is difficult to document this type of land as it results from an oral agreement, and is not formally described in the literature; nevertheless it corresponds to a status actually mentioned by farmers. Such gifts are supposedly indefinite, but they may give rise to conflicts with the original landlords. An example may be land granted to set up a compound and surrounding fields, as described by Kohler (1971) in Burkina Faso, which is ceded for as long as the recipient is in residence in that particular area.

The fourth kind of land has been described by Boutillier (1964), Hammond (1966) and McMillan (1980, 1986). The latter calls it land of customary right. It is associated with the positions of clan elders or village chiefs and, unlike lineage land, cannot be inherited. One gains access to it by becoming the eldest member of the clan, in which case it will not be inherited by his son unless the son himself becomes an elder in the lineage. A man may also earn the right to this land when he becomes a village or quartier chief. Unless a quartier is absorbed into the chieftaincy of another quartier, chieftaincy normally passes from father to son and this land thus remains in the same family (McMillan, 1980). These lands of customary right are generally not fully cultivated by the political leaders and therefore constitute a land reserve.

Land of customary right and land acquired both by first occupancy and by inheritance may be redistributed to people outside the original household through a system of institutionalized borrowing, the fifth category. It is not clear whether donated land can be loaned in the same manner.

Land borrowing

There are various reasons why a farmer may need to borrow land. Ancestral land rights are often not evenly distributed among the various inhabitants of a given locality, as the descendants of the first settlers tend to control larger tracts of land than those who came later. As families of a given lineage grow, the division of land among the sons may leave some of them in need of additional farmland. Alternatives for these individuals include borrowing land from other households of the same village, joining the mother's patrilineage in a neighbouring village, resettling some portion of the household in a less populated area or even seeking a source of subsistence abroad, mostly as a plantation labourer in Ghana or Côte d'lvoire.

Migration has also become a common phenomenon in West Africa. Annual migration to rural areas was estimated to affect 57 000 people between 1969 and 1973 in Burkina Faso (Lewis, 1986). Such a large-scale resettlement process relies on the traditional land borrowing system. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for some farmers, who have left their home village to cultivate elsewhere, to return once they have gained a greater share of family lands. Some land will have been made available for them because of a change in the subsistence needs and land requirements of the family through migration or death, or because their status has increased. As a result, they have access to land of customary right as described above (McMillan, 1980).

Whether the request to borrow land originates from a member of the extended family, from a villager of another descent group or from a distant migrant, powerful communal moral and spiritual norms dictate that it generally cannot be denied if the site is not currently, or is unlikely to be, cultivated. Swanson (1979) mentions, for example, that land is rarely denied to someone who needs it for subsistence. Should a farmer himself be in need of land, he will rarely force out those borrowing his own land. Instead he will borrow from other kinsmen or non-kinsmen. The feeling is that “you may be in the same situation of need some day”. This explains why a phenomenon of ‘landlessness’ as such is generally unknown in West Africa. Priority is usually given to kinspeople but loans take place outside clan bonds. In this latter case, they occur within the context of a special relationship such as friendship or intermarriage. Such social bonds appear to be very important for the successful integration of migrant families (McMillan et al., 1990).

Borrowing usually does not involve a direct cash payment as in the Western rent system. Custom requires that small gifts (salt, peanuts, kola nuts, chickens, sheep) or assistance be exchanged for it. They are part of a social security system which allows integration and mutual moral and material support during times of hardship (Prudencio, 1983). These gifts, offered annually, are usually more frequent when borrowers and lenders are not related. However, in areas of high land value, borrowing may be associated with forms of rent payments.

The importance of land borrowing in West Africa has been highlighted in many studies, but its relative magnitude varies according to the land right classification adopted. In nine Mossi provinces in Burkina Faso where population density was above 40 people/km2, half the cultivated fields were on borrowed land and this proportion increased with population density (Boutillier, 1964). In central Burkina Faso, one-third of the entire farm area was borrowed, while only 5 out of 31 household heads exclusively used land to which they had permanent rights (Kohler, 1971). Similarly, 27 percent of the land under cultivation was borrowed in the eastern part of the country (Swanson, 1979). Saul's research (1988) also yielded a proportion of 25 percent. In the densely populated (55.4 people/km2) northern part of the Central Plateau, around Kaya, borrowed land area amounted to 56 percent of the total land area planted (McMillan, 1986). Similarly, in Nonghin, Manga area, 16 percent of fields covering 45 percent of the total cultivated area were borrowed (Prudencio, 1983), while in Koin, a Samo village of western Burkina Faso, 40 percent of fields had a borrowed status (Zeeuw, 1997). In the Fifth region of Mali, 40 percent of the landholders interviewed borrow at least one plot of land, and 25 percent farm only borrowed land (McLain, 1992).

Traditional versus state tenure security

Until recently, indigenous tenure regimes were perceived as being unable to ensure agricultural investment and sustainability of land use. Assuming that western models of leasehold and freehold tenure would promote tenure security, agricultural investment, and land markets, colonial and post-colonial administrations generally acted to reduce the influence of customary village authorities regarding landrights in order to achieve resource management based on centralized State control. A concrete step in this direction was the introduction of land titling and registration, which are still thought to be a prerequisite to sustainable land use. It is claimed that the lack of long-term security keeps those who borrow land from investing in improvements, while those who lend it do not allow such investments in order to avoid claims of appropriation by the user. Evidence shows, however, that legal provisions often do not adapt to the local logic and its social and economic dimensions, and do not have expected results. They may run counter to indigenous management systems, trigger resource conflicts and farmer behaviour with positive or negative consequences on natural resource management.

Borrowing is not necessarily an insecure form of land tenure associated with unsustainable agricultural practices. In the Samo village of Koin, in western Burkina Faso, Zeeuw (1997) has shown that borrowing plays a positive role in the sustainability of land use and does not preclude intensification. As villagers are able to restrict the granting of permanent borrowing rights, overloading the land's carrying capacity may be prevented. In addition, the possibility for farmers to gain temporary access to land results in a flexible, efficient and equitable distribution of land among farming units. Borrowing also contributes to sustainable land use because it gives farmers the option of avoiding keeping a marginal plot in extended cultivation or prematurely taking it out of fallow. Surveys of 150 farms in six villages located in the Sahel, Sahelo-Sudan and Sudano-Guinea zones of Burkina Faso showed that farmers perceive a high degree of security in their land-use rights, except in the case of a relatively small percentage of well defined short-term land loans (Matlon, 1991). Tenure security variables (borrowing versus inheritance; plots located on lineage versus non-lineage land, etc.) had no measurable effect on incentives to invest in land quality improvements such as manuring, fertilization and fallowing.

In Bentenga, many villagers borrowed dry-season vegetable plots from landowners in a neighbouring village, Kaibo, who then used the land for rice and maize production during the rainy season (Saul, 1988). The fact that the land was borrowed did not prevent Bentenga villagers from investing intense labour and cash (in the form of seedlings, fencing and manure) on it. The land grantors concerned thus benefited directly from these improvements for their own cropping enterprises. In Koin, both borrowers and lenders felt that borrowing was not a constraint to the construction of rock bunds (diguettes filtrantes), which are one of the most common intensification techniques used locally (Zeeuw, 1997).

Planting trees was generally not allowed by the lender for fear of a permanent land claim by the borrower. Women could, however, plant live fences of trees and shrubs around the plots they had borrowed for vegetable production in order to limit the encroachment of domestic animals. This practice was considered a part of the horticultural production system rather than an act of appropriation. While tree-planting on borrowed land may be limited, trees can still be incorporated in agricultural management through natural tree regeneration, a practice which is not restricted. Being cheaper and more efficient than artificial regeneration in nurseries, this technique is increasingly promoted by foresters (Zeeuw, 1997). Tree tenure is discussed at length in later sections of this chapter.

Legal interventions aimed at strengthening security in indigenous tenure systems may have unpredictable effects. Zeeuw (1997) emphasized that borrowing land is not a simple material agreement but creates reciprocal socio-political obligations between the family of the lender and the borrower. In exchange for the possibility of earning a living for his family, the borrower is expected to observe loyalty to the lender's family. Should formal contracts be legally established to increase tenure security for borrowers, lenders would lose their power to enforce loyalty by recalling their land and would thus be less inclined to lend. Land would, in turn, be distributed less efficiently in villages and used in a less sustainable manner. An important objective of tenure security for villagers is the participation in peaceful and stable social relationships in the village. Supporting the intervention of external legal government authorities to arbitrate in tenure conflicts may thus not be seen by villagers as a satisfactory means of achieving tenure security. Such interventions are only advisable when conflicts cannot be settled within the community.

In Senegal, farmers in Ndam Mor Fademba, showed themselves to be aware that some provisions of the national land laws are not well adapted and, if applied strictly, threaten to reduce the flexibility which characterizes their local system of natural resource management. They have therefore responded in a variety of ways to limit their influence on local systems of resource management (Schoonmaker and Freudenberger, 1992). For example, the 1964 Loi sur le domaine national (Law relating to the National Domain) and the 1972 Loi relative aux communautés rurales (Law on Rural Communities) stipulate that all land transactions (land loans are expressly forbidden) must be handled by Rural Community Councils which are entitled to allocate undeveloped land (terre non mise en valeur) and to resolve land conflicts. Because the administration has in the past sometimes granted borrowers titles to land they have had in loan for three or more successive years, farmers are careful to limit loan duration, to assess the motives of borrowers, to lend land that is clearly identifiable as their by live fences or its central location in their landholding, and to limit the investments borrowers may undertake on the loaned land. Borrowers therefore lose the incentive to conserve and improve lands obtained in this manner.

Furthermore, rural councils may judge lands which are not being used for immediate crop production or for infrastructural improvements as being ‘unexploited’. In reality, these fallow lands play a vital role in soil fertility restoration, tree regeneration and forage production, and give essential flexibility to local resource management systems. As a result, farmers demonstrate that they are actively adding value to the land and own it by pruning naturally regenerated trees, by planting Andropogon grasses and weeding around them, etc. But they may also engage in more ecologically harmful practices, such as discontinuing fallow rotations, and clearing and planting fields with little or no intention of harvesting the crops (Freudenberger, 1993a). Lastly, village residents attempt to protect their interests by resolving disputes locally following a well-structured consultation process involving the disputing parties, the chief and, if necessary, his council of elders and the whole village. Communities tend to bring conflicts to the attention of rural councils only as a last resort, as these are viewed as corruptible and unlikely to support local concerns. This has strengthened local-level institutions and flexible land-use arrangements which are adapted to local ecological and economic conditions. A similar strengthening of local management institutions resulted from land claims by outside agribusinesses through the Rural Council in the village of Fandène, Senegal, following a plan for the construction of the Cayor Canal (Guèye, 1994). Despite internal land use conflicts, farmers and herders have formed an alliance and developed strategies, including tree planting, to secure their rights over part of the village territory.

There are many other cases when state control of natural resources has had an unfortunate impact on their condition. In Burkina Faso, for example, the 1984 land reform broke with both customary rights and privatization trends by declaring that ‘land belongs to the State’. Widely broadcast on the radio, this was wrongly interpreted as permitting open and free access to land reserves. As a result, Mossi migrants who had spontaneously settled in the Volta River Basins were anxious to mark their properties and undertook destructive land clearing and cultivation practices (Pélissier, 1980a; Faure, 1995).

Indigenous institutions regulating the management of parkland resources

Historically, West Africa has seen enforcement of traditional forest management regulations on an impressive scale. Thus felling F. albida was strictly prohibited in Sudan, in Niger (CTFT, 1988), in the Baol kingdom of Senegal (CILSS/LTC, 1993b) and in Zambia (Olsen, 1995). In response to the sedentarization of the population and massive land clearing, Tanimoum, Sultan of Damagaram in Niger, established a draconian law for the protection of the environment during his reign from 1854 to 1884. This law listed a number of protected species including F. albida, Balanites aegyptiaca, Ziziphus mauritiana, Khaya senegalensis, and Ficus spp., and threatened people felling F. albida, the most important tree, with the death penalty or amputation of an arm for mutilating it (Sowers and Manzo, 1991). These measures led to a wide expansion of F. albida parklands which are still seen today. In a similar way, in the early 1800s, Sékou Amadou, the Fulbe conqueror, established a land-use management system for the inner delta of the Niger and surrounding areas. This system involved the demarcation of cattle corridors in and out of the region, depending on seasonal fodder availability, which are still respected by farmers today (Thomson and Coulibaly, 1995).

Sahelian rural communities have created an intricate set of rules and conventions including rights, obligations and sanctions regulating access and sustainable use of parklands.

Regulating use by outsiders

Villages in West Africa generally have rights to land and other natural resources which are located in a defined geographical area called a terroir. However, the degree of control they have over available resources within their terroirs varies. Villages can be dominant, semi-dependent and dependent (McLain, 1990b). Dominant villages claim proprietorship over extensive land areas, based on the right of conquest or of first settlement in the area. Over time, villages may have ceded land resources falling within their terroir to neighbouring villages. Dominant villages may or may not still exercise control over the ceded territories, making local tenure regimes more intricate. Different villages or quartiers may also exercise simultaneous rights over distinct resources (agricultural, grazing and fishing grounds) found in the same land units.

Non-agricultural lands made up of forests, scrublands or grasslands are usually considered as commons and used for pasturing animals or as a source of wild foods and raw materials. Goods derived from trees growing on the bush commons are open to anyone in the village (Thomson, 1983). There may, however, be a theoretical boundary demarcating the respective gathering areas of neighbouring villages.

Traditionally, villages had the right to exclude non-villagers from a number of forest uses such as land clearing, harvesting valuable fruits or cutting valuable tree species (McLain, 1990b). Village control mechanisms were undermined by colonial administrations which issued forest regulations enforced by their repressive police force. The erosion of local resource governance often continued with the implementation of Forest Codes. Much to the dismay of villagers, forest lands are now intensely encroached by outside organized groups of wood collectors for the charcoal and fuelwood supply of cities. Live trees are then cut in great numbers or fires lit to justify dead wood collection retrospectively. When these outsiders do not hold legal permits from the Forestry Administration, villages are sometimes able to prevent their access to the village forests (GRAAP, 1988). Generally speaking, land and forest resources with unrestricted access to residents, neighbours and outsiders are characteristic of land unclaimed by lineages yet often claimed by whole villages, and are more difficult to bring under sustainable management. State devolution of access and use rights to local communities and institutional support seem prerequisites to enhancing the villages' capacities to manage these lands sustainably.

Regulation within communities

In many parts of West Africa, rural communities have created rules and conventions, including rights, obligations and sanctions regulating access to and sustainable use of natural resources. For example, Fischer (1994) provides an analysis of elaborate pre-colonial management strategies for local agricultural, pastoral and fishing resources in the Middle Senegal River Valley. Similar systems exist for parkland and forest resources, particularly for those of great use and exchange value. These rules are rooted in indigenous knowledge and understanding of the local ecosystem. A wide range of economic, social and religious sanctions reinforces compliance with prohibitions. Collective management disciplines are often enforced by specific religious or political leaders or respected village individuals. By establishing a connection with God and the ancestors, religious sanctions reinforce the authority of current elders and leaders for the management of forest resources. They have meaning for, and have usually been obeyed by, communities.

There exist local institutions for controlling harvest patterns of tree resources. For instance, ceremonies may be held before villagers proceed to harvest tree crops, especially in the case of V. paradoxa (Ruyssen, 1957; Pageard, 1971). In Watinoma, Burkina Faso, the earth priests (tengsoba) apply the ganlegre custom at the start of Vitellaria nut maturity, whereby a few Vitellaria trees are encircled with baobab strings to signal a temporary prohibition against climbing the tree and harvesting the fruit, and the obligation to leave nuts on the spot after eating abscised fruit only (Vimbamba, 1995). These rules allow equal access among villagers and ensure resource protection and sustainability. Furthermore, commercialization of nuts used to be strongly forbidden. Similarly, in some provinces of the Central Plateau such as Sanmatenga, Ganzourgou and Passoré, a ceremony whereby the chief picked and ate the first ripe pods signalled the opening of the harvest season of P. biglobosa pods (A.S. Ouédraogo, 1995). Hagbers and Coulibaly (1989, cited in Lamien et al., 1996) also reported that in Diongolo, the traditional authorities set the date for harvesting P. biglobosa pods.

Similar village institutions for restricting seasonal access to economically useful trees such as Mangifera indica, Adansonia digitata, P. biglobosa, V. paradoxa and Cordyla africana, as well as thatch grasses, fish ponds and drinking-water sources, have recently been studied in The Gambia, Guinea, and among the Mende of Sierra Leone (Freudenberger et al., 1997). These seasonal common property regimes define ‘closed’ periods when use of resources located on village commons or individually appropriated lands is banned by the village authorities. The various property rights are reactivated after the ban is lifted. These community arrangements are instrumental in ensuring that the harvest takes place after the fruit is mature and that high prices are maintained for the products. They reduce the cost of protecting tree stands with fencing or other forms of control, and minimize potential conflicts between community members in cases of theft. Rule enforcement, consisting of social sanctions which deeply affect a violator's relations to the community and often of heavy fines in money and/or kind, is highly effective.

Other arrangements relate to tree cutting. Seignobos (1996) suggests that interdictions on the cutting of F. albida among several ethnic groups in Cameroon may have led people to believe that multiple misfortunes will befall those who cut or use this tree. In the Kumbija zone of Senegal, living trees are usually not cut. The only valid purpose for cutting a live tree is to build the roof of a house, for which purpose Bombax costatum is used (Bergeret and Ribot, 1990). In The Gambia, fuelwood is generally not obtained from food trees in order to preserve local tree-based food supplies. Fruit collectors, often women and children, pick only ripe fruit and do so without cutting off branches, leaving the unripe fruit for later collectors. Similarly, traditional regulations exist regarding the number, species and timing of animals to be killed in hunting. Reproduction periods are enforced for the regeneration of forest wildlife (Madge, 1995). In heavily populated areas of northern Nigeria, formal rules governing the felling of farm trees were effectively enforced by the district head up to the 1970s. In Dugurawa, the headman would exhort villagers to maintain tree stocks for future generations and, rather than requiring formal fees or permits, give his permission for felling trees against the farmer's assurance that they would be replaced by planted or effectively protected seedlings. This system was still evident in 1986 (Cline-Cole et al., 1990).

Rules sometimes apply to all except particular social groups who may be primary users of these resources or who have specific roles in maintaining these arrangements. In Burkina Faso, it was believed that blacksmiths were the only people who would not suffer physical disorders from tree cutting. Similarly, access to sacred groves commonly found within or at the periphery of villages is still limited today and reserved for religious figures. No tree cutting or burning is allowed there (Vimbamba, 1995; Guinko, 1985). In The Gambia, access to the forest or tree cutting by villagers, except specialists such as herbalists, is discouraged by the fact that trees or forested areas are believed to harbour spirits and witches (Madge, 1995).

Collective beliefs deriving from these traditional institutions are challenged by new socio-economic influences and may seem to constrain the development of modern management practices. For instance, taboos may constrain the practice of planting trees. According to Montagne (1986), villagers in Natie (Sikasso area), Mali, do not plant P. biglobosa out of respect for taboos. Lahuec (1980) mentions that, not so long ago, the establishment of tree plantations was strongly prohibited among the Mossi and would condemn the planter to certain death. This was also reported for the Banfora region of southwestern Burkina Faso, where Richard (1980) interpreted the taboo as a defence mechanism of traditional land authorities threatened by a modern economic system. Similarly, in The Gambia, a young man was asked by his mother to remove all indigenous tree seedlings in a newly established orchard, including orange and mango trees for fear of bad luck (Madge, 1995). Implicitly, this enterprise might have threatened the political ascendancy of local elders who traditionally obtained their social power and wealth through the sale of oil palm products. It would also challenge the communal tenure rules associated with forest trees.

This should not be construed to mean that planting cannot be pursued in these communities. Rather, such taboos indicate in a powerful way that tree planting on land having some character of common property would threaten elaborate arrangements and diminish the common property rights of others (Shepherd, 1992). Projects should thus look for ways to adapt their objectives to existing indigenous institutions rather than trying to change or circumvent them.

Changing traditions

Not all traditional regulations are still effective in today's environment, and decisions are increasingly made on an individual basis. For instance, an increase in theft is forcing farmers to harvest P. biglobosa pods early in order to avoid losing production (A.S. Ouédraogo, 1995). A common action taken by farmers who want to control depredation of their own resources is to make tree ownership more visible to poachers. In Senegal, farmers mark F. albida trees with pieces of bark or cloth to discourage Peulh herders from indiscriminately lopping branches from their trees. This method appeared to be successful since it was being adopted by other villages in the area (Seyler, 1993). It is also practised on P. biglobosa because of its high subsistence and economic value. In Burkina Faso, farmers place fetishes (gris-gris) on or next to P. biglobosa trees, as well as spines around the trunk to control theft (Ki, 1994). However, as spines can be removed and fetishes are often no longer respected, individual surveillance is also practised and is the most effective method for protecting pods of P. biglobosa.

Authors who have followed the historical evolution of traditional tenure regimes argue that such institutional arrangements are resilient and flexible and show a remarkable continuity across historical periods (Freudenberger et al., 1997). In coastal West African countries including The Gambia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the existence of seasonal restrictions against picking tree fruit was already documented by Portuguese explorers in the late 1500s. While these methods were traditionally used to regulate access to non-marketed plants, access interdictions were extended to cash crops during the colonial period. Communities used such arrangements to limit the sale of agricultural and tree crop commodities to the international markets when faced with declining prices. Despite colonial efforts to outlaw the practice, these indigenous systems for regulating resource use have adapted to change and persisted to the present day. A determining factor in their continuity has been the fact that they rely on intergenerational cooperation. Elders usually delegate monitoring and enforcement authority to young people and specialized resource users and therefore promote the perpetuation of resource management principles and practices (Freudenberger et al., 1997; Thomson and Coulibaly, 1995).

Fig. 5.2

Fig 5.2 Harvesting of young leaves from a small Adansonia digitata tree, Burkina Faso.
R. Faidutti

New village-level regulatory processes are being implemented where customary control mechanisms did not exist. For instance, the commercial value of Detarium microcarpum fruit, a tree traditionally valued for subsistence, has increased in recent years in Burkina Faso. In Sarogo, heavy exploitation of the species and the resulting absence of regeneration led the village community to appoint a paysan forestier (forest monitor) to oversee the conservation of the local Detarium forest which had developed on fallows (Wiersum and Slingerland, 1997). Community compliance with harvesting dates and conditions set by the village chief and enforced by the paysan forestier is high.

Village communities are taking collective action against illicit tree cutting for fuelwood and charcoal as well as pruning for fodder.

Villages are also anxious to obtain rights to exclude others in order to protect their natural resources. In western Senegal communities are taking collective action against illicit tree cutting for fuelwood and charcoal as well as pruning for fodder (Seyler, 1993). Some have formed ‘comités de surveillance’ (monitoring committees), informal groups of household heads who take turns patrolling each other's fields against poachers. Culprits are first verbally warned, and for repeated offences, are referred to the traditional or the forest service authorities. While this measure was fairly successful in areas with low livestock populations, it was more difficult to keep herders or village farmers with large animal herds from pruning trees during dry years. Villages also recruit paysans forestiers to enforce tree protection. They are given the power to fine offenders by forest agents and usually receive food aid.


The above examples show that there is a strong tradition of resource-use regulation within villages. These arrangements are based on a sophisticated understanding that communities have developed of species characteristics and their requirements for regeneration. When the subsistence or commercial value of parkland resources is high, communities reveal the institutional capacity to maintain, reinforce or construct tenure arrangements and management systems to use those resources in a sustainable way. There is little doubt that such local traditions and capacities are a source of hope for the maintenance of agroforestry parklands in Africa.

These forms of indigenous management are insufficiently studied and understood. More research is needed to better identify their strengths and limitations as well as the conditions which favour their reproduction. Too little is known, for example, about how the enforcement of these property arrangements is sustained in time and space through intervillage coordination, intergenerational cooperation and delegation of enforcement tasks to other village organizations.

Given appropriate recognition by the state, they certainly provide a strong basis for the development of co-management regimes between government and local communities which could be vested with additional powers to regulate local resources (e.g. permits). Because all community members have a part to play in indigenous management institutions, they also provide an entry point for identifying incentives for participation in project activities.

Traditional restrictions, such as those described above, may be the most visible signs of wider indigenous management and knowledge systems which have been responsible for the maintenance of agroforestry parklands. These systems include management practices reviewed earlier, such as the practice of fallow cycles, selective maintenance of preferred species, use of fire, individual tree management techniques, etc. The first answer farmers often give for the justification of parkland agroforestry techniques is that they were born into these systems. The tradition of maintaining and promoting trees in fields is passed from generation to generation and is an inherent part of their cultural and agricultural identity. People also respect their forest environment and associate it with health and abundance. “You will not experience famine if you protect a kongosirani (Sterculia setigera) in your field” (Bagnoud et al., 1995a). A better understanding of the multiple dimensions involved in these knowledge and management systems would greatly help research and development personnel as well as policy-makers to assist rural communities in further developing and updating sustainable forest resource management systems.

Constraints and opportunities in traditional tree tenure

The previous section examined some of the main features of indigenous institutions governing the management of parkland resources. Nested within these common property management regimes are more specific tenurial practices relating to access to more individual parkland tree resources which are the focus of this section. Unlike Western concepts of tenure in which land and what grows on it commonly form two parts of a single property package, land ownership in West Africa is often seen as separate from ownership of the vegetation on this land. Just as is the case for land, a perception of tenure security is an important prerequisite for intensive tree management. Tree-related rights may be very complex with a number of categories (see Box 5.1) which can be held by different people at different times (Fortmann, 1985). Whereas annual crops generally belong to the cultivator whether he has permanent rights to the land or not, trees, and particularly perennial tree crops, may belong to one person while heritable rights to the land on which they grow may be held by another person, and yet another person or group may be entitled to gather products from the trees.

McLain (1990a) argues that the primary factor governing rights to plant and use trees is the tenure status of the land on which they are found, specifically whether farmers have permanent or temporary landholding rights. In addition, just as the labour provided in the initial clearing and cultivation of unclaimed land gives a first settler the basis for claiming a proprietary right to a piece of land, tree tenure commonly differs on appropriated and unclaimed land, and for planted versus naturally regenerated trees. Other parameters influencing tree tenure include tree species and their commercial value, tree parts and quantities used, relationships between right holders, etc.

Box 5.1
Categories of rights comprising tree tenure
  • The right to own and inherit trees
  • The right to plant trees
  • The right to use trees
    • harvest fruit, nuts, pods
    • gather bark, fungus, insects, birds' nests
    • use the standing tree: beekeeping or curing hides
    • cut all or part of a living tree
  • The right to dispose of trees
    • destroy the tree by uprooting or chopping down individual trees or by clearing a section of the forest
    • lend the use of the tree to someone else
    • lease, mortgage, or pledge the tree
    • give away or sell the tree either together with or separate from the land
(Source: Fortmann, 1985)

Traditional rights to parkland trees on inherited land

In Sahelian villages, under customary tenure rules, rights to trees are usually vested with holders of lineage or inherited land. Landowner control theoretically includes rights to inherit, plant, cut or prune and gather tree products (McLain, 1990b; 1991a). The authority of holders of lineage land may also consist in excluding non-family (and family) members from exercising tree-related rights.

Communities position themselves differently on the continuum from individual to collective rights and the associated restrictions they apply. Permanent landholders in Burkina Faso and Mali generally own V. paradoxa nuts in their fields (Ruyssen, 1957; Saul, 1988). The latter author adds that, among the Mossi, anybody can eat V. paradoxa fruit (sweet outer pulp) as it perishes very quickly after picking, but that the economically important nut has to be left at the foot of the tree. The permanent landholder may also choose to allow anyone (including land borrowers) to gather the nuts. In contrast, in villages south of Bamako, trees on crop fields belong to the cultivating household, but collection of V. paradoxa nuts is carried out by everyone in the village regardless of field ownership (Gakou et al., 1994). A similar pattern was reported among the Bobos of Koutiala, a town in southern Mali, where trees located within or outside cultivated fields would traditionally belong to the community, and landholders could not claim rights to the trees' nut production. Only once the main community collection was completed, was free gathering of the remaining nuts allowed (Ruyssen, 1957).

Property rights become stronger when management tends to be more intensive (Wiersum and Slingerland, 1997). When land is farmed private tree rights mostly predominate, but group rights often reassert themselves when land is under old bush fallow (Shepherd, 1992). There is evidence, for instance, that Vitellaria nuts gathered from bush fallow or uncultivated areas are available to anyone on a first-come first-served basis in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana, while the nut harvest from cultivated fields, and sometimes recent fallows, generally belongs to the permanent landholder (Saul, 1988; Ruyssen, 1957; Hall et al., 1996). This relationship between tenure and intensity of management also comes into play in farmers' decision-making, for instance on resource access or conflict resolution as illustrated in the following examples. Schreckenberg (1996) mentions that in the Bassila region of Benin women own the nut harvest of Vitellaria trees present in their or their husbands' fields. They therefore prefer to start collecting nuts in bush areas surrounding their fields where competition from other women is greater. Another anecdote from the same area describes two women arguing over the right to harvest Vitellaria trees in a fallow area which had been farmed by the husband of one of the women in the previous year. Other village women settled the dispute by deciding that the products of field trees should be reserved for the farmer concerned (and his family) only in currently farmed fields but not in fallows.

Fig. 5.3

Fig. 5.3 Harvesting pods of Parkia biglobosa, Benin.
K. Schreckenberg

Generally, landowners tend to enforce exclusive rights only on tree planting and cutting. Whether exclusive rights to pruning and gathering fruit are enforced depends on the value of the tree species, the type of use, the quantity used and the relationship of the tree user to the landowner (McLain, 1990b; 1991a). Where borrowers are concerned, use rights tend to be less restrictive than planting rights because landowners consider that borrowing farmers contribute to the protection and conservation of trees growing on the land.

In Burkina Faso, Saul (1988) considers the right to harvest V. paradoxa nuts to be one of the primary indicators of who maintains permanent rights over borrowed land. In central Mali, borrowers are authorized to a share or all of the wild fruit crops. Permission is theoretically needed for cutting down trees on loaned plots but enforced only for valuable trees. Pruning can be done without the owner's authorization (McLain, 1990b). In M'borine, Senegal, fuelwood collection in the dry season is allowed freely on all villagers' fields and fallows, while only wives may gather from their husband's fields during the wet season. Large branches are reserved for the field owner, regardless of the season (Postma, 1990).

In Yatenga, northern Burkina Faso, deadwood can be collected on any field but the owner's permission is required when live trees are lopped or felled (Thomson, 1980). In the Gourmanche region in the Southeast, harvesting of parkland resources such as Vitellaria, Ficus, Tamarindus, and Borassus trees in family landholdings is traditionally open to all in locations of abundant land supply (Swanson, 1979). The only exception is P. biglobosa and its widely used and marketed beans, which have traditionally been subject to more exclusive arrangements as indicated by the following examples. In many places, this tree continues to be one of the few non-cultivated trees whose produce belongs permanently to the owner upon whose land it was found. It is a heritable good which is handed down to the eldest son of the family in some areas of Burkina Faso (Ouédraogo, 1990). In the 1960s, free access to Parkia pods was already limited to unclaimed bush land and fallows among the Bobo (Boutillier, 1964). In Bassila, Benin, Parkia pods belong to the traditional landowners even in currently uncultivated areas, and a dispute over ownership of a piece of land was settled by finding out who had traditional harvesting rights to Parkia pods on the land (Schreckenberg, 1996). Nevertheless, Logba and Otamari migrants often fail to comply with this rule and may instead agree with the landowner to harvest trees and give him a small part of the harvest. Rule enforcement over tree production greatly depends on how close trees are to the landowner's village.

The value of species varies geographically but valuable species are generally those producing fruit for human consumption such as exotic and indigenous fruit trees. In the Fifth Region of Mali, access to less valuable or fallen fruits, or fruit in poor production years as well as dead wood on the ground, tends to be open to all, even to borrowers on loaned land (McLain, 1990b). Increasing population levels and pressure on resources tend to increase their value and contribute to stronger individual claims (Shepherd, 1992). Open-access policy for parkland trees on lineage lands in some places can also shift to exclusion by landholders (Swanson, 1979). While pruning and debarking of F. albida is open to all in Dossi, Burkina Faso, farmers' claims to these trees are more restrictive and result in more frequent conflicts with herders in Watinoma, a village with a ten-fold higher population density (Depommier, 1996a). Similarly, as fuelwood becomes increasingly scarce, wood on privately held land will tend to be appropriated less freely. Yet, the relative availability of fuelwood may not be diagnosed properly because this institutional structure remains invisible to the outsider (Hoskins, 1981).

Fig. 5.4 Man collecting Borassus aethiopum fruit.
R. Faidutti

Fig. 5.4

As trees increase in value, tenure rights are more clearly articulated, and the possible dissociation between land and tree rights does not pose management constraints. In Wolokonto, southwestern Burkina Faso, planting of B. aethiopum is allowed on plots of land assigned by the village chief. When plots come to be used by other farmers, the Borassus palms continue to belong to the original planter. Consequently, the majority of farmers own more trees in other farmers' fields than in their own. Farmers commonly tap palms which do not belong to them but have to give the owner half their earnings from wine sales (Cassou et al., 1997). Similarly, B. aethiopum trees in Fandène, Senegal belong to those who planted the trees. Children may be allowed to pick and eat the fruit without permission, but commercial harvesting requires a rental or pledging arrangement with the tree owners (Freudenberger, 1994). Landowners in Bassila, Benin, require compensation for the felling of any oil palm tree for tapping (non-destructive tapping methods are not known in this area). They will visit the area with the tapper and mark the trees to be felled. Payment is per tree or as a lump sum with wine gifts (Schreckenberg, 1996).

In the strongly hierarchical Mossi social organization and other places such as northern Ghana, the power of village chiefs sometimes supersedes tenure arrangements governing tree products on lineage lands. Parkia biglobosa used to be referred to sometimes as the ‘tree of the chief’, to whom all or a share of the pod harvest collected by farmers would accrue (Norton, 1988; Boutillier 1964). This custom has somewhat changed with time, but claims of ownership of Parkia trees remain. In some places, the kapok tree (Bombax costatum) and the tamarind tree (Tamarindus indica) are also the Mossi village chief's property (Ouédraogo, 1990).

Fig. 5.5

Fig. 5.5 Collecting Borassus aethiopum sap to make wine.
R. Faidutti

The fact that in central Mali frequency of tree protection was fairly constant across fields acquired through both inheritance and loans indicates that farmers borrowing land have an incentive to protect some natural tree regeneration (McLain, 1990b). These farmers had the right to prune trees and thus to minimize their interference with crop production and to collect the fruit produced. Despite the meagre comparative data available on tree densities in inherited and borrowed fields, this seems to be the general rule throughout the Sahel. As mentioned above, the contribution of borrowers to field and tree maintenance is recognized. Besides its advantages of low cost, efficiency, technical ease and appropriateness, assisted natural tree regeneration appears to be a suitable technique for promoting parkland enrichment by holders of temporary land rights.

Nevertheless, agroforestry projects focusing on promoting natural regeneration need to assess how such actions may influence the existing tree tenure regime. For example, 16 out of 30 permanent landowners stated without hesitation that, if they were borrowing land, they would not stake out regenerating F. albida shoots, as recommended by the Dosso Gao Project (Niger), for fear of having their land reclaimed by the owner. Half the farmers with temporary land rights also expressed concern with respect to being dispossessed for protecting seedlings (Montagne, 1984). Projects, therefore, also need to encourage the definition of clearly articulated rights with holders of both permanent and temporary land rights in order to promote participation across all tenure categories.

Tree planting on borrowed land

The particular tenure status of tree planting (as opposed to protecting natural regeneration) is related to the principle that ‘labour creates rights’. Just as clearing a piece of land confers ownership to the clearer, planted trees in Africa generally belong to the planter and tree planting may give that person rights over the land on which they are planted (Fortmann, 1985). While this poses no problem when the planter is also the landowner, planting is sometimes used by people borrowing land as visible evidence of a claim to it. Thus McLain (1990b) found that, in central Mali, tree planting was relatively more common on donated than on inherited or borrowed land, and interpreted this as a mechanism used by farmers to consolidate their claim to the land. In the Peanut Basin of Senegal, Golan (1990, cited in Seyler, 1993) found that farmers with less secure tenure planted or maintained more trees than farmers with more secure tenure. She concluded that tree planting and better tree management were a way for these farmers to ‘prove’ their tenure visibly. In contrast, trees which regenerate naturally do not generally modify tenure unless labour is invested for the improvement of tree production. Afraid of losing the possibility of deriving benefits from the land where the trees are established, landowners generally refuse outright to allow borrowers to plant trees on their lineage land (Neef and Heidhues, 1994; McLain, 1990a, 1990b, 1991b; Swanson, 1979).

Because of their limited rights to plant and cut trees, the cultivators of borrowed land tend to be much less eager to participate in agroforestry activities involving tree planting. In fact, in all four areas studied in central Mali, the number of borrowed agricultural plots with planted trees was significantly lower (half or less) than that of inherited plots with planted trees (McLain, 1991a). This also means that people with predominantly borrowed land will be less likely to plant trees than farmers having inherited land only. This is particularly true for certain segments of the population, such as secondary landholders, women, unmarried men, and immigrants who tend to rely on borrowed land to a greater extent than primary landholders.

In Mali farmers are theoretically not allowed to plant trees on borrowed land without securing the landowner's permission (McLain, 1990b, 1991a). Disputes arise when they do so and owners will go so far as to uproot young trees. Borrowers may also be expelled from their holdings when trees are planted (Swanson, 1979; Janodet, 1990). Even when permission is sought, it is most often denied for fear that it will lead to a land claim.

Nevertheless, there are numerous cases of borrowers being allowed to plant trees but the choice of species may be limited. Mango trees, being commercially valuable, were the only trees causing land tenure conflicts in Swanson's research area in Burkina Faso as these (especially the grafted ones) are “the only species considered worth planting and caring for”. It is clear that the greater the commercial value of a tree, the stronger the opposition of landowners to allow tree plantations on loaned sites. Authorization to plant trees on borrowed land also occurs in Mali, but exotic fruit tree species such as orange, guava, papaya and lemon trees are excluded (McLain, 1990a). In the German Projet Agro-Ecologie in Yatenga, Burkina Faso, experience has shown that efforts to plant the exotic neem (Azadirachta indica) on borrowed land often result in the termination of granted cultivation rights. This is not the case for indigenous species (S. Ouédraogo, 1998).

The fact that rights to planted trees may remain ambiguous when owners take back a piece of land can be a disincentive for borrowers to plant trees. However, there are opportunities for landowners and borrowers to reach satisfactory agreements allowing borrowers to benefit from planted trees while safeguarding the owners' claim to the land. Such arrangements are made informally between villagers (McLain, 1991a). In the Bassila area of Benin, farmers who have negotiated authorization with landowners to plant trees in fields, sometimes as boundary markers, choose exotics rather than indigenous species, which could be argued to result from natural regeneration (Schreckenberg, 1996). Species, such as Eucalyptus spp., Gmelina arborea and Tectona grandis are then independently managed, mostly for pole and timber production.

A farmer who returns a borrowed field to the landowner may or may not come back every year to gather products of an indigenous (subsistence) tree species he has planted. He would certainly return, however, if the (exotic) tree produced a sizeable marketable harvest such as mangos. The economic value associated with fruit tree plantations is such that land parcels where orchards are established are more and more being treated as personal property. Unlike most other types of land where the principle of inalienability is respected, plantations are increasingly subject to sales (Saul, 1988).

Commoditization of land and trees

Growing market orientation, in addition to population growth, may tend to dissolve traditional common property systems and individualize agricultural production and land rights (Neef and Heidhues, 1994). This can promote profound changes leading to the individualization of land and labour management strategies. Household members are exerting pressure to free their labour and receive their share of family lands (Ngaido, 1995). In areas of high land value, such as the surroundings of urban centres, shores of lakes allowing dry-season irrigation, fertile low-lying land (bas-fonds) in rural areas, orchards, etc., allocation of land in exchange for money is becoming quite common (Freudenberger, 1993a). As agroforestry parkland crops accrue in value, it may be that rights to parkland trees will also become more individualized and strongly articulated, possibly even being used to strengthen rights to land.

In the sub-humid and humid zones of West Africa, tree crop production has led to the commercialization of various rights in trees and land. However, patterns of control over tree crops and their revenues have depended not so much on formal rules of access and transfer but on interactions among potential beneficiaries and their ability to exercise their claims (Berry, 1987). Land transactions in the Sahel are increasingly common whether they take place in opposition to national laws, as in The Gambia where the law protects customary tenure systems, or in accordance with state legislation, as in Burkina Faso where the 1991 Réorganisation Agraire et Foncière (Land and Agrarian Reform) officially encourages private property. In reality, producers and private investors, who are allocated traditionally held lands, do not rely on existing administrative and legal frameworks. For example, in Burkina Faso, land titling is not considered as a guarantee for security of tenure by entrepreneurs nor is it recognized by banks as valid collateral to secure loans. Instead such people seek to maintain good relations with local land authorities and rationalize their economic activities by minimizing social risks (Faure, 1995).

Fig 5.6 A woodworker finishes a traditional mortar used for pounding various foods. Wood for such items often comes from agroforestry parklands.
R. Faidutti

Fig. 5.6

Rather than ‘private property’, access to tree crops can better be described as ‘a degree of individual control’. A number of pathways including inheritance, labour investment, and migration create multiple overlapping rights to tree crops so that control patterns remain subject to renegotiation and redefinition (Berry, 1987). Over time the evolution towards the commercialization of rural assets in agroforestry parklands may follow similar trends and should indeed be allowed to proceed endogenously.

Women's rights

Because women usually marry outside their native villages and patrilineal kinship controls land allocation, they have to borrow land from their husband or their husband's relatives. The location of allocated land may change from one season to the next (Matlon, 1991; Postma, 1990), but this varies geographically. In some places in Burkina Faso and Senegal, women sow Bambara groundnut or fonio (Digitaria exilis) plots after the major planting of millet and sorghum, generally on residual unplanted field portions. They often do not know at the outset of the season where their major plantings will be located, nor at the end of the season whether they will be able to cultivate the same plot the following year (Matlon, 1991). In contrast, land allocated to a married woman by the head of the family in Ndam Mor Fademba, Senegal, is stable and securely held for as long as she stays in the family (Schoonmaker and Freudenberger, 1992).

Trees located on women's fields generally belong to the men lending the piece of land who may, however, concede to the women the right of access to them. In central Mali, women have the right to trim branches and gather fruit and dead wood without permission from the landowner. Women are also usually responsible for the processing and commercialization of parkland products (see Chapter 7). Tree protection is not less common in women's than in men's fields in central Mali (McLain, 1991a). Densities of self sown trees were even found to be significantly higher in women's fields (35 trees/ha) than in the fields of household heads (24 trees/ha) in Thiougou, southern Burkina Faso, where women had long-term land loans (Boffa, 1995). Various vegetables and spices as well as some cereals are grown in women's fields, whereas family fields are more exclusively oriented towards staple cereal production. With fields of similar species richness but about three times smaller than those of family heads, the number of tree species per unit area was twice as high in women's fields as in family fields managed by male household heads.

Fig 5.7 Women bringing home fuelwood.
R. Faidutti

Fig. 5.7

These overall and specific density differences show women's particular interest in maintaining a significant production of various crop and tree products in their fields, and this was not constrained by the local tree tenure regime. It has been reported, however that when products such as Vitellaria nuts have increased value as a cash crop, men have reduced women's access to this resource (Snoy in Crélerot, 1995; Khouw and Golane, 1987). A similar trend resulting from the introduction of domesticated material or improved processing technologies might develop to the detriment of women, and changes in tree tenure therefore need to be monitored, and consequences anticipated.

There are also examples of finer scales of rights regulations within gender groups. These confirm the continuity of tenure rights from the most to the least ‘visible’ as well as their pervasiveness. In polygamous marriages in Ghana, the oldest wife regulates access of household members to Vitellaria nuts (Pugansoa and Amuah, 1991). In Bassila, Benin, Vitellaria trees close to villages are generally harvested by the older village women. Women explained that this is in part because older women get up early in the morning to harvest these trees before anyone else, but also because younger women deliberately leave these more accessible trees for elderly and incapacitated women (Schreckenberg, 1996).

Women can theoretically plant trees on borrowed land but they are discouraged from doing so because trees revert to the owner when the loan is discontinued. Unlike men who may use tree planting as a means of gaining control over borrowed land, this is not an option for women (McLain, 1990b). Some married women in Bassila villages in Benin choose to plant trees next to their parents' compound rather than their husband's in order to avoid the risk of losing them if their marriage breaks down (Schreckenberg, 1996). Thus, the lack of tenure security for women is a disincentive to long-term investments such as tree planting. The number of women having planted trees was in fact significantly lower than that of men in Malian villages. A large percentage of women being secondary holders, they tend to have fewer rights to trees than primary holders (McLain, 1991a). There may also be cultural constraints to women participating in tree-planting operations. In Petit Samba, Burkina Faso, planting is never done by women (Gijsbers et al., 1994).

Current trends including permanent cash cropping, plough farming and population increase, which cause a reduction in fallow area and duration, tend to have a negative effect on women's production and tenure of two primary forest resources: fuelwood and Vitellaria nuts (Grigsby and Force, 1993). Fallow reduction requires greater labour for fuelwood collection, and restricted access to both resources because land tenure, which is communal during the fallow phase, becomes more individualized or kin-based during the farming phase. Furthermore, while formal credit may be a necessary step for women to adopt efficient forest-related technologies, insecurity of access to land resources currently makes this investment too risky. The involvement of social organizations such as women's groups may be a way of increasing their access to land resources and making credit more affordable and labour more efficient.

A number of cases suggest that women's land and tree rights and living conditions are more vulnerable to land use changes, than those of male landholders.

In Senegal, vegetable gardening in bottomlands has expanded significantly in recent years. Because these areas were traditionally used primarily by women and children to collect non-timber forest products (fuelwood and fruit), their conversion into vegetable gardens may have a negative impact on women's ability to supply household needs for forest products and may place increased pressure on parkland trees (Seyler, 1993). Moreover, much of the collected fruit is sold on local markets and represents a significant income for women. In contrast, income from vegetable gardens is for the men of the household. Zeeuw (1997) also contends that women can be more vulnerable to conflicts affecting land tenure security. In Koin, Burkina Faso, women borrow land to establish vegetable gardens which they may lose in case of conflicts. Because they often make permanent investments (fences, well, etc.) and the gardens are generally located on village fields, that are more scarce and less easily replaced than bush fields, they stand the chance of losing more than men in such conflicts.

There may also be gender conflicts regarding management, access and control over parkland tree resources. For instance, men usually control P. biglobosa fruit while women are the beneficiaries of V. paradoxa. In villages where intensification of agricultural land use is in progress, farmers have tended to reduce tree densities in recent years (see Chapter 2). In order to arrive at densities they consider more optimal, male household heads may cut down V. paradoxa trees. This is opposed by their wives who share the labour on family fields. Consequently, men have to maintain sufficient Vitellaria densities to satisfy them (Bagnoud et al., 1995a; Schreckenberg, 1996). The fact that income from parkland trees is divided among several household members can be a constraint, since the profitability of tree conservation is not perceived at the global farm level (Bagnoud et al., 1995a). In Benin, women also complained that men do not pay sufficient attention to the development phases of Vitellaria in deciding when to burn their fields (Schreckenberg, 1996), even though fire may be detrimental during flowering or fruiting. Bobo women in Burkina Faso have also been observed to plant P. biglobosa trees in their husbands' fields secretly because they are entitled to half the production (Ki, 1994). As Hall et al. (1997) noted, the secret character of this operation and the social risk involved demonstrate the significance of gender differences over tree management strategies and the importance of these tree resources.

Implications of traditional tenure regimes

Traditional tenure regimes are an important driving force of individual and community decisions about land use and trees in the Sahel and Sudan zone of West Africa.

There appear to be no major tenure-related obstacles to tree-planting activities where farmers have permanent landholding rights. In contrast, parkland enrichment through planting on borrowed land is likely to face strong resistance and create great conflict with traditional landowners. But the conditions surrounding tree planting are likely to be very site-specific and need to be analysed on a case-by-case basis to increase the success of forestry development efforts. For instance, in areas where loans can be inherited if not reclaimed after a generation, second-generation settlers should be able to participate.

A number of strategies have been suggested to increase participation of land borrowers in tree planting activities (Freudenberger, 1996; McLain, 1990b, Raintree, 1987). Official oral or written agreements between borrower and owner can be negotiated to guarantee benefits to the borrower from trees planted while keeping intact the landowner's permanent land rights. Such contracts may even be necessary when the landowner authorizes tree planting so that litigation is avoided once trees mature to a productive age. Another possibility is to encourage landowners to require tenants to plant trees in return for a contractual share of the harvest. Finally, it is important to recognize that not all trees have the same importance in the eyes of the landowner, and it may be better to encourage the protection and planting of indigenous parkland species rather than introduced fruit trees. For some purposes, shrubs may fulfil a land borrower's needs and be acceptable to the landowner. Overall, it seems that landholding status has little effect on incentives to protect natural tree regeneration in parklands. This characteristic as well as technical and cost advantages argue strongly in favour of this technique as opposed to tree planting for increasing tree densities in parklands.

Women may be most disadvantaged by indigenous tenure rules, as their access to land is often temporary and is a disincentive to investments yielding benefits in the long term. Parkland agroforestry activities should attempt to help women negotiate agreements with landowners to allow tree planting. They could also focus on promoting technologies which require minimal labour and capital investments to produce rapid returns, and on increasing opportunities involving parkland tree products.

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