Dr. Eyog Matig Oscar, Coodinator, SAFORGEN Programme, IPGRI, Cotonou
Dr. Abdou Salam Ouedraogo, Regional Director for Africa, IPGRI, Nairobi
In 1998, FAO, IPGRI2 and ICRAF3 united their efforts to assist countries in Sahelian Africa in organizing a sub-regional workshop on the conservation, management, sustainable utilization and enhancement of forest genetic resources in dry zone Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim was to assist countries in the eco-region to assess the status of their forest genetic resources, to develop and propose priority action and to formulate recommendations on immediate follow up and implementation. The workshop, which was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 22-24 September 1998, was attended by thirty-five participants including national experts from 15 countries in the sub-region and representatives of a number of international and regional organizations. For further information on the workshop please refer to Forest Genetic Resources No 26 (1998), pp 9-12.
In preparation of the workshop, country experts elaborated national reports summarizing the status of forest genetic resources, identifying the main activities and the most pressing needs for action. The form and contents of these reports had been harmonised by countries in consultation with FAO in order to assure that all aspects associated with forest genetic resources be addressed, and to facilitate the preparation of a regional synthesis (see text box). Based on reports received from the countries prior to the workshop, a draft synthesis was prepared beforehand by Dr O. Eyog Matig4. During the workshop, participants discussed and commented on the draft synthesis. Based on these discussions, and taking into account additional information provided by countries, the preparation of a second draft version has been undertaken and the document is now in the final stages of revision. A summary of the main findings of the synthesis report is presented in this paper5.
Methodology used for the preparation of national reports:
National reports describe the situation of the genetic resources of the main forest trees at species level and below. This work complement other initiatives considering higher levels of organization and using an ecosystem approach. The species approach has been promoted here to help focus on practical considerations and facilitate the preparation of action-oriented conclusions and recommendations. Only species with actual value in the country (whatever the nature of the value) were considered. The process aimed at being holistic and thus, the list of priority species was established in line with a common methodology weighing up the socio-economic, ecological, cultural or other value of the species vis-à-vis the potential risks of reduction or even extinction of their main genetic components. Two types of quantitative data were collected by national experts: (i) data linked to species status (value, usage, distribution, current management and potential threats) and (ii) data linked to recommended actions for a restricted group (priority species).
The synthesis report covers a geographical zone including 21 African countries6. It groups together Sahelian countries in West Africa, dry zone countries in East Africa and countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea with a significant area of dryland. The climate of the study zone is tropical with a very marked dry season. Focus is on areas with annual average rainfall between 300 - 800 mm. The intensity of the dry season is modified by altitude and the influence of the Gulf of Guinea. Climatic heterogeneity has visible consequences on the distribution of flora, in which both Sahelian, Sudanian and Guinean components can be distinguished.
Map 1. Map showing the approximate coverage of the synthesis report. Based on Menaut, 1984. From FAO, 1997.
The area under forest7 cover in the Sahelian and North Sudanian zone is estimated at approximately 1.25 million Km2 or 10% of the total land area (FAO 1999). The typology of the natural forest is varied, from short shrub steppe to dense stands. 302 species of woody plants have been listed in national reports. The Sahelian zone is the privileged domain of Acacia species.
Forest plantations make up a relatively small proportion of the total forest area. Planting efforts during the 1970s focused on meeting the need for wood fuel and controlling desertification through establishment of plantations of fast growing introduced species. The plantation programmes were less successful than expected, however, they did encourage the establishment of national tree seed centres and the initiation of tree improvement work in some countries. More modest afforestation efforts are presently under way, and focus for seed demand and supply has shifted towards local species, mainly planted by rural communities.
The human populations, mostly rural, live mainly from agriculture and livestock breeding. Industrialisation is limited, consisting essentially of primary processing units. The proportion of fuelwood covers close to 90% of total energy needs. Rural and urban populations remain very dependent on the goods and services supplied by forests, trees and multiple use plants, and this is clearly reflected in the priority species listed by the countries (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Main uses of priority species. In national reports prepared by the countries 302 species were listed as important and the uses of these priority species were reported. Figure 1 shows the distribution of priority species sub-divided into 11 different uses.
* Non Wood Forest Products
** Soil and water conservation
Over exploitation of forest resources due to population growth and uncontrolled human activities (unmanaged harvest of wood and non-wood products, grazing, clearing, brush fires) represents the most serious threat to the maintenance and sustainable management of forest resources, and to forest genetic resources in particular. Risks are further amplified by recurrent episodes of drought.
In the national reports, countries assessed the conservation status of priority species. Generally precise data on this issue was not available and the assessment of the conservation status was based on estimates of number of individuals protected under different conservation schemes (reserves, conservation stands, managed forests, etc.). The intensity of perceived threats and their causes was also described and, based on this information, the level of security of each species was estimated and quantified on a scale from 1 to 5, where 1 was high level of security (mild threat) and 5 was low level of security (high risk of genetic loss). Table 1 gives an example of data on conservation/threat status reported in the national reports.
As mentioned above, plantation programmes during the 1970's lead to the establishment of national tree seed centres and the initiation of tree improvement work in some countries. National tree seed centres or seed stores were established in the following countries: Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, Sudan and Togo8.
In the national reports countries also listed the species targeted for selection and improvement programmes. Table 2 includes a species by species summary of the reported activities in the field of tree improvement and selection.
Table 1: Example of information compiled in the national reports: Status of conservation and level of threats to the species Faidherbia albida
|Species||Country||Conserved in||Threats and their causes||Degree of security|
|Protected areas||Managed forests||Un-managed forests|
|Managed for soil conservation||Wood or non wood production||Grazing areas||Environmental factors||Clearing and felling||Overgrazing||Development of infrastructure||Others|
|Legend: CI: Côte d'Ivoire; Cam: Cameroon; K: Kenya; Maur: Mauritania; Ng: Niger; Nga: Nigeria; Sd: Sudan; S: Senegal . Numbers refer to number of individuals conserved. X indicates that conservation efforts are in place, but these have not been quantified.|
Table 2: List of species included in programmes of selection, evaluation or improvement work
|Species||Provenance test||Orchards or conservation plots||Sexual or vegetative propagation||Molecular analyses||Country involved in this research work|
|Acacia auriculiformis||V||V||CI, Mal|
|Acacia senegal||V||V||V||K, Cm, BF,Sd, Ng, Mal|
|Acacia seyal||V||V||K, Sd,Ng|
|Acacia tortilis||V||V||S, K, Sd|
|Anogeissus leiocarpus||V||V||BF, Mal, Be|
|Azadirachta indica||V||V||V||S, Cm, Ng, BF|
|Eucalyptus camaldulensis||V||V||V||V||K,S,Cm,Na,Ng,BF,Sd,CI, Tgo|
|Faidherbia albida||V||V||V||K, S, CI, Cm, BF,Sd, Ng|
|Khaya senegalensis||V||V||V||BF, Cam|
|Parkia biglobosa||V||V||BF, Cm, Na, BF|
|Prosopis africana||V||BF, Ng|
|Prosopis juliflora||V||V||S, BF, Ng|
|Pterocarpus erinaceus||V||Be, CI, Mal|
|Tamarindus indica||V||V||K, BF, Cm,|
|Tectona grandis||V||V||V||CI, Tgo|
|Ziziphus mauritiana||V||S, BF|
|Legend: Be: Benin; BF: Burkina Faso; CI: Côte d'Ivoire; Cam: Cameroon; K: Kenya; Mal: Mali; Maur: Mauritania; Ng: Niger; Nga: Nigeria; Sd: Sudan; S: Senegal; Tgo: Togo;|
No country in dry-zone northern sub-Saharan Africa has a national institution dealing exclusively with forest genetic resources, although a particular body generally plays the role of focal point. Macro-economic policies have been influenced since the 1970s by economic restructuring and the implementation of structural adjustment programmes. Where land ownership and forest management are a public sector concern, the forestry sector has been greatly affected; budgets, manpower and responsibilities of a number of forest services have been reduced. Several countries are seeking a balance between the respective functions of public forest institutions and the national, provincial and local levels of authority. The decentralization efforts underway in most countries have had immediate implications for ownership relations and for the management, conservation and utilization of forest genetic resources. Forestry codes are increasingly taking these new developments into account (Table 3). National agricultural research centres, of which forestry is a component, have also been reformed. The general trend is towards the regionalization of agricultural research, with programmes implemented by multi-disciplinary teams. While justified and positive from many points of view, this restructuring has sometimes weakened forestry research capacity by further diluting expertise which was already at a critical level.
Table 3: Legislative provisions regarding forest management
|Country||Forestry code updated in||Forestry code being updated|
|Côte d'Ivoire||1965||In progress|
|Ghana||1945 ?||In progress|
|Nigeria||Forestry and fauna policy of 1988||No|
|Sudan||Law of 1989||No|
The data compiled from the national reports on the status of forest genetic resources throughout the zone clearly shows that forest resources generally face severe and immediate pressures, and that prompt action is needed to prevent irreplaceable loss of genetic resources.
The appropriateness of preparing a sub-regional action plan on forest genetic resources, and its objectives and contents, were discussed during the sub-regional workshop in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September, 1998. Participants agreed that a sub-regional action plan on genetic resources of the Sahelian and North Sudanian zone of Africa would constitute a valuable tool, and that the plan should be based on the scientific and technical information contained in the national reports, and on ideas and proposals put forward at the meeting.
It was decided to articulate the plan in two parts: one part defining priority species at sub-regional level; and the second part describing the actions necessary to reduce the major threats to these species. A list of priority species was drawn up based on national reports, discussed during the workshop, and complemented with information provided by workshop participants.
302 species were listed as priority species in the national reports. With the purpose of identifying tree species for collaboration projects at sub-regional level, a list of species considered priority by most countries, and hence with potential for targeted collaborative efforts in the region was prepared (Table 4). Only those species given as priority by a majority of countries (in practice 10 or more countries) are included in Table 4.
Table 4: Priority species listed by 18 countries in the sub-region
|Priority species||Total number of countries listing the species||Countries listing the species as a percentage of total countries||Main uses|
|Faidherbia albida||15||83%||Fodder, shade, soil and water conservation, agroforestry, fuelwood|
|Tamarindus indica||15||83%||Food, NWFP*, shade|
|Khaya senegalensis||14||78%||Timber, fuelwood, NWFP|
|Acacia nilotica||12||67%||Fuelwood, NWFP|
|Adansonia digitata||12||67%||Food, shade, NWFP|
|Anogeissus leiocarpus||12||67%||Fuelwood, roundwood (poles etc)|
|Parkia biglobosa||12||67%||Food, agroforestry|
|Acacia senegal||11||61%||NWFP, fodder|
|Azadirachta indica||11||61%||Roundwood, fuelwood, NWFP|
|Borassus aethiopum||11||61%||Roundwood , food, timber|
|Diospyros mespiliformis||11||61%||Food, timber, fuelwood|
|Pterocarpus erinaceus||11||61%||Timber, fuelwood, NWFP|
|Balanites aegyptiaca||10||56%||Food, NWFP|
|Eucalyptus camaldulensis||10||56%||Roundwood (poles etc), fuelwood|
|Vitellaria paradoxa||10||56%||Food, fuelwood, NWFP|
|Ziziphus mauritiana||10||56%||Food, fodder|
|* NWFP: Non wood forest products|
For each species country experts indicated the most urgent operational needs. Based on this information operational priorities for the species identified for regional collaboration were defined (see Table 5).
Table 5: Operational recommendations for regional priority species
|Species||Exploration & collection||Evaluation||Conservation||Use of germplasm|
Legend: 1: High priority, action should start or be continued with immediate effect; 2: Prompt action recommended, action should start within the next two biennia ; 3: Action is required, but less urgent than 1) and 2).
The information in Tables 4 and 5 defines priorities for coordinated efforts, and thus constitutes an important part of the plan of action. Based on the species prioritisation process proposals and recommendations for concrete action were identified and agreed upon. Participants agreed to group proposed activities under the following thematic areas:
A draft document comprising the synthesis report and the sub-regional plan of action described above has been prepared and is being circulated among participants of the workshop. Once comments have been received and incorporated, the documents will be published and made widely available. In addition, data contained in the national reports will be entered into REFORGEN - the FAO world wide information system on forest genetic resources - enabling users to search for information by country and by species. The information will shortly be made available through Internet at the FAO Forest Genetic Resources homepage.
In regard to the research component of follow-up to the Ouagadougou forest genetic resources workshop, the national experts took note of IPGRI's efforts with respect to the establishment of a regional programme on forest genetic resources research in Africa (SAFORGEN), an initiative they strongly supported.. It was recommended that the SAFORGEN programme, when implemented and operational, play a major role in overall coordination of forest research efforts in the sub-region.
The elements of priority forest genetic resources activities identified by countries in the Sahelian and North-Sudanian zone are not limited to species-related activities but encompass a wide range of concerns and issues relating to the forest genetic resources field. Implementation will require voluntary actions from a range of actors, including national governments, local and regional authorities, regional and international organizations (both inter-governmental and non-governmental), the scientific community, the private sector, local communities and Forest Services.
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