Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 87, Issue 1, pp 203–216

Influence of agroforestry practices on the structure and spatiality of shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.) in central-west Burkina Faso


DOI: 10.1007/s10457-012-9536-2

Cite this article as:
Elias, M. Agroforest Syst (2013) 87: 203. doi:10.1007/s10457-012-9536-2


This article examines the role of humans in shaping a shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.) population in Prata, central-west Burkina Faso. Four management regimes or land uses were considered: fields cultivated by indigenous Gurunsi farmers, fields cultivated by migrant Moose farmers, fallows, and bush lands. The structure of the shea population differed between Gurunsi and Moose fields and between these fields and fallow and bush lands. The size class distribution of V. paradoxa in fallows and bush lands was skewed towards the lower classes and the slope of the distributions was negative and significant, indicating the occurrence of recruitment. In comparison, Gurunsi fields carried young and mature trees with 95 % of individuals in the 15.5–90 cm range, whereas Moose fields carried no specimen with dbh <16.5 cm. The slope of the size class distribution was slightly negative for Gurunsi fields and slightly positive for Moose fields, but non significant in both cases. Vitellaria paradoxa densities did not significantly differ between Gurunsi (35 stems/ha) and Moose (26 stems/ha) fields, but were higher in fallows (172 stems/ha) and in the bush (161 stems/ha) than in cultivated fields. Nearest neighbour distances were progressively greater from uncultivated fields to Gurunsi and finally Moose fields, whereas shea trees were increasingly aggregated from Moose to Gurunsi fields to fallows and bush lands. In Prata, shea tree management is thus associated with ethnicity and/or with a host/migrant status that confers different farm sizes and levels of tenure security to farming households. Gurunsi and Moose farmers cited productivity, spacing and shading effects as the main factors influencing their decision to conserve specific shea trees in their fields. Results signal favorable prospects for V. paradoxa regeneration in Prata’s fallows and bush lands and to a lesser extent in Gurunsi fields.


Vitellaria paradoxa Land use Ethnicity Population structure Spatial analysis Regeneration 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anthropology Department Pavillon Charles-De Koninck, bureau 3431 1030, avenue des Sciences-Humaines Université LavalQuébecCanada

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