Forests and the forestry sector

Burkina Faso

The forestry sector plays a major economic, social and cultural role in the country. Forests and wooded formations cover about 7.1 million hectares (25.9 percent of the country¿s total land area), located mainly in two national parks on the frontier with Benin and Togo. This figure includes 67 000 ha of planted forests. Natural forests (gallery forests, open forests, shrub savannah, striped thickets) are divided into reserved forests (25 percent) and non-reserved forests (75 percent). Reserved forests encompass national parks (10 percent), wildlife reserves (67 percent) and reserved forests proper (23 percent). There is an annual deforestation of 15 000 ha (0.2 percent). Plant formations, including burned-off areas and bush fallow, cover 254 100 km2 (92 percent of the country¿s total land area).

Multipurpose species widespread in the country are the locust bean (Parkia biblobosa) and baobab (Adansonia digitata). Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) has always been carefully tended, and today the centre of the country is green and wooded, resembling one huge shea orchard.

Community forestry is well developed in Burkina Faso. The country has been a pioneer in rural forestry, the participatory management of natural forests and small stands, and the management of plant and animal wildlife. The concept of land management has been successfully implemented and has been adopted as the main development strategy for community forestry. However, its adoption in the country still comes up against a number of serious obstacles, such as the lack of security of tenure of both land and resources, weaknesses in land tenure legislation and inadequate agroforestry policies.

In Burkina Faso the rural and urban economies are not yet sufficiently integrated to allow the emergence of a truly modern harvesting sector to supply the towns with fuelwood. The consumption of petroleum products - all of which are imported - is low, and wood provides 91 percent of the total energy consumed. Consumption is particularly high around towns, where accelerating urbanization has led to overexploitation of the closest resources, resulting in a typical ring of desertification. The government has the long-term aim of promoting the use of butane as a domestic fuel and as an alternative to wood, in order to curb deforestation. Despite a reduction in taxes, butane costs twice as much as wood, although its price is lower than that of wood charcoal.

Fuelwood, construction wood, livestock, wildlife, medicines, shea and honey are still the country¿s main forest industries. Fuelwood accounts for 85 percent of the total gross domestic product of all wood products marketed in the country, followed by construction wood (12 percent) and timber (3 percent). The annual consumption of timber is about 25 000 m3, of which 93 percent is imported from neighbouring countries and only 7 percent produced locally.

In 1990 the sector contributed only 5.2 percent to the gross domestic product (a little more than 40 billion CFAF). Its contribution was, however, considerably higher, inasmuch as several economic activities depending on forest harvesting were not taken into account, notably the gathering of fruit, pods, leaves and various parts of trees, the supply of materials needed for traditional medicine and the feeding of livestock.

Last updated: September 2001

last updated:  Thursday, January 14, 2016