Forestry policies, institutions and programmes
The Constitution of Burkina Faso ?the primary juridical basis on which the national forestry policy has been built ?stipulates in Article 29 that ¿the right to a healthy environment is recognized; every person has a duty to defend and promote the environment.?The principles laid down in the Constitution have been backed up by legal acts and policy documents, including the following:
- Law 014/96/ADP governing agrarian and land reform in Burkina Faso;
- the Guidelines on Decentralization; the decentralization process under way in Burkina Faso clearly confirms the responsibility and role of the people as the main actors in the management of natural resources;
- the Policy Letter on Agricultural Development;
- the Action Plan and Investment Programme for the Livestock Sector in Burkina Faso;
- laws containing the Forest Code and Environmental Code for sustainable natural resources management in conjunction with the decentralization process;
- Joint Order 10 of 3 February 2000 on the constitution, terms of reference, organization and functioning of Village Land Management Commissions;
- National Forestry Policy Document, which specifies that ¿the participatory approach is established as the guiding principle for all those involved in the forest, wildlife and fishery sectors.
The General Directorate of Water and Forests is the central structure in forest administration and is contained within the Ministry of the Environment and Water. A national decentralization commission was established in July 1994 to encourage reflection on decentralization. A secretariat known as the National Council for the Management of the Environment, responsible for coordinating implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification and other programmes for natural resource conservation and management, was created in 1995.
Since the early 1980s, the Government of Burkina Faso has undertaken a number of initiatives with FAO and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) support. The Natural Forest Management Project, covering a radius of 150 kilometres around the town of Ouagadougou and intended to supply it with fuelwood, began in 1986 and is now in its third phase. Its main objective is to reconcile the urban demand for fuelwood with the need for rational and sustainable management of the surrounding forests.
The National Forestry Action Plan was launched in 1989 and was finalized at the end of 1991 as the Tropical Forests Action Programme, with financial support from the German Agency for Technical Cooperation and technical support from FAO.
In addition, in August 1992 Burkina Faso adopted the National Environmental Action Plan, which combines the National Action Plan to Combat Desertification and the National Village Land Management Programme in order to formulate a policy closely linking development and the environment.
It was then decided to combine the National Forestry Action Plan and the National Environmental Action Plan. Three technical development programmes were planned and formulated: a national village forestry programme, a national natural forest management programme and a wood energy programme.
A programme for institutional support and capacity-building was also drawn up, comprising a study on forest legislation, a study on strengthening forestry-sector structures and coordination problems, and a study on the role of formulation and research in forest development.
Several other programmes got under way in 1991, focusing on: combating desertification, as part of a Sahelian strategy; family planning; combating uncontrolled bush fires; combating the straying of livestock; and combating unauthorized cutting for fuelwood. A national forest fund has been created.
The main problems related to environmental management today are: drought and the inadequate availability of water resources; soil erosion; the scarcity of wood, with strong pressure in the north and centre of the country; strong pressure from transhumant livestock; and the loss of biological diversity, especially of wildlife.
The institutional landscape is complex, with many plans and programmes concerning the environment. It is essential that the implementation of national technical plans be coordinated at the institutional level. The multiplicity of plans and programmes ?and of institutions responsible for managing them ?makes such coordination difficult, given that national capacities are limited (lack of human and logistical resources).
It is hard to determine the economic contribution of the sector because of shortcomings in the methods of collecting and processing forest statistics, and methodological inconsistencies when taking into account items collected by household members for household consumption.
There are constant financial problems. The considerable human pressure should also be stressed, with poaching, clearing, bush fires and overgrazing, all of which have contributed to a drastic reduction in wildlife numbers.
On the other hand, water resources and inland bodies of water, whose annual fishing potential has been estimated at more than 12 500 tonnes, are very much underexploited (barely 7 000 tonnes per year), mainly because of climatic fluctuations and insufficient training, equipment and organization of fishermen.
Last updated: September 2001