Economic Botany

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 256-270

First online:

Fulani Knowledge of the Ecological Impacts of Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae) Foliage Harvest in Benin and its Implications for Sustainable Harvest

  • Orou G. GaoueAffiliated withBotany Department, University of Hawaii at ManoaLaboratoire d’Ecologie Appliquee, Universite d’Abomey CalaviDepartment of Biology, Institute of Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology, University of Miami Email author 
  • , Tamara TicktinAffiliated withBotany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa

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Fulani Knowledge of the Ecological Impacts of Khaya senegalensis (Meliaceae) Foliage Harvest in Benin and Its Implications for Sustainable Harvest. An improved understanding of how local people view their impacts on the resources they exploit and how they perceive that their resources are affected by other factors can provide insight into reasons some resources are overexploited and into strategies to conserve them. In West Africa, various tree species are heavily harvested by indigenous herders for foliage to feed their cattle. The reported declines in populations of several of these species have both biological and cultural implications, as cattle are an integral part of indigenous cultures and livelihoods. In this study we investigated Fulani herders’ practices, knowledge, and perceptions of the ecological impacts of harvesting foliage of African mahogany, Khaya senegalensis, in Benin, and we tested some of the factors that may influence them. Fulani herders have detailed ecological knowledge of their impacts on the resources they depend on, and this is finely tuned to local ecological conditions. This knowledge is also widely spread across different sectors of Fulani communities and is highly congruent with scientific findings. However, due to the open-access context of K. senegalensis populations, detailed knowledge of sustainability does not translate into sustainable practices. Fulani perceptions of threats to populations differ significantly between ecological regions and provide key insights for locally relevant resource management plans. Traditional Fulani practices such as the sopoodu provide a basis for sustainable management of proposed Fulani-owned K. senegalensis plantations. This study illustrates how the assessment of local ecological knowledge, practices, and perceptions can play a key role in the design of culturally-appropriate conservation plans.

Key Words

Benin conservation of tropical trees Fulani local ecological knowledge non-timber forest products harvesting impacts