Burkina Faso, situated in the west of Africa, experiences a tropical climate depending on its geographical location. The rainy season lasts for almost two to five months and is a major driver of its floristic and vegetational characteristics of the region. The typical park landscapes i.e. cultivated landscapes created for agroforestry practices are exposed to a growing threat of agricultural usage like: climate change, land fragmentation and changes in land ownership. The Institute for Forest Genetics of the BFW in Vienna, Austria is already involved with some major projects in Africa. This exchange of knowledge and empowering the poverty-stricken population in these regions, is the rationale of BFW’s commitment for Africa.
Map of Burkina Faso
Agroforestry: combination of trees and annual agricultural crop
Improvement in usage
In the arid north of the country, cultivation experiments in close cooperation with the research institutes of Burkina Faso are being carried out on the Prosopis africana, which is a major agroforestry species in the region. Molecular genetic inventories are carried out to quantify the genetic diversity along with drought-stress-test for selection of suitable dry-tolerant seedling populations. These initiatives will help to reduce deforestation substantially, in this part of the country.
Local Knowledge and cooperation
An essential component is the incorporation of local knowledge in combination with capacity building in the field of forest genetics and ecology. Together with the Burkinabe ministry and research institutes like Centre National de Semences Forestières (CNSF) in Ouagadougou, the existing national conservation and utilization strategies for forest genetic resources have been optimized. This includes, for example, the development of improved technical guidelines on the use of forest reproductive materials.
Beyond the duration of the project, a specific dialogue on this issue is
expected to be established with specific institutions of the region.
Among other things, within the framework of the project, Ph.D. and
master students working in these areas are supervised by experts at the
BFW, CNSF and the BOKU ( Universität für Bodenkultur) which will support
the purpose of exchange and dissemination of knowledge.
How can forestry research contribute specifically to combat the effects of climate change?
The film produced by BFW titled, "Climate Change in West Africa - how forestry research in Burkina Faso can help?", using the example of the tree species Prosopis africana in Burkina Faso, gives an overview of the current situation of forest and forestry in West Africa. On the basis of concrete samples, the knowledge of the local population can be improved: Like, the use of the Zai and half-moon technique and water barriers helps to make the most use of the limited amount of available water. The selection of suitable plants from water consumption point of view and growth period depending on the type of tree is as important as the use of termites for the improvement and loosening of the soil.
In addition, the commitments like, technical assistance in the search
for the origin, the drought test of the plants and training of students
and potential future decision-makers, that were undertaken by the BFW
within the framework of the project are also addressed. To summarize
it in the words of a local farmer of Burkina Faso: "There is no life
without trees, no life means no animal and human life. That is why it is
important to continue with these activities because whether we say it
or not, trees mean life."