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Economic Botany

, Volume 65, Issue 4, pp 381–395 | Cite as

Eliciting Local Values of Wild Edible Plants in Southern Bénin to Identify Priority Species for Conservation1

  • Sognigbe N’Danikou
  • Enoch G. Achigan-Dako
  • Jennifer L. G. Wong
Article

Eliciting Local Values of Wild Edible Plants in Southern Bénin to Identify Priority Species for Conservation. When financial resources are limited, prioritization of species for conservation becomes essential. Elicitation of local perceptions of threats can be a useful means of prioritizing species and can help strengthen local conservation actions for important plant species. In the neighborhood of Dan forest (southern Bénin), we used quantitative ethnobotany tools to explore: a) how local communities value wild resources, b) if concerns of resource depletion can engender pro-active management to conserve plants and, if so, c) which criteria local people would use to select species deserving conservation. Ethnobotanical knowledge was collected using a range of different techniques. Results indicate that the villagers eat 41 wild plant species belonging to 17 families with the most important being Parkia biglobosa, Vitex doniana, Vitellaria paradoxa, Launaea taraxacifolia, and Prosopis africana. Local criteria against which value is evaluated include: i) the market importance, ii) the nutritive value, iii) the number of complementary uses of species, and iv) the availability of the resource. Additional criteria are species specific and include: v) rapid growth and production, vi) resistance to drought and diseases, and vii) life form. Although there is a real appreciation of threats, there is little evidence of pro-active conservation management by harvesters. The needs for further investigations to promote conservation of wild edible plants through use were explored.

Key Words

Bénin conservation indigenous knowledge selection criteria wild edible plants 

Estimation de la Valeur des Plantes de Cueillette Comestibles au Sud du Bénin et Définition des Espèces Prioritaires pour la Conservation

Estimation de la Valeur des Plantes de Cueillette Comestibles au Sud du Bénin et Définition des Espèces Prioritaires pour la Conservation. En situation de ressources financières limitées, la priorisation des espèces pour la conservation devient cruciale. Pour ce faire, connaitre la perception des communautés locales par rapport aux menaces peut être un moyen utile pour renforcer les actions de conservation. Dans la zone riveraine de la Forêt de Dan (Sud Bénin), nous avons exploré: a) comment les communautés locales valorisent les plantes de cueillette, b) si la prise de conscience du déclin des ressources induit des prises d’initiatives pour conserver les plantes; le cas échéant, c) quels sont les critères de choix des espèces prioritaires. Différentes approches sont utilisées pour collecter et analyser les informations ethnobotaniques. Nos résultats indiquent que 41 espèces végétales appartenant à 17 familles sont consommées par la communauté, les plus importantes étant Parkia biglobosa, Vitex doniana, Vitellaria paradoxa, Launaea taraxacifolia et Prosopis africana. Les principaux critères utilisés par la communauté pour évaluer les espèces sont: i) la valeur marchande, ii) la valeur nutritive, iii) le nombre d’usages complémentaires et iv) la disponibilité de la ressource. Des critères additionnels comme la précocité, la résistance à la sécheresse et aux maladies et la forme de vie sont aussi listés. Cependant, malgré l’appréciation des menaces sur les espèces, il y a très peu d’initiatives de conservation de la part des collecteurs. Au vu de ces résultats nous avons exploré les besoins de recherche pour une conservation durable des plantes alimentaires de cueillette.

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Darwin Initiative and the Natural Resources International Foundation for their financial support to this research. We also thank Dr. Bianca Ambrose-Oji and Dr. Margaret Pasquini of Bangor University for their contributions. We are in debt to Dr. Françoise Assogba-Komlan of the Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Bénin for her advice and collaboration and Dr. Hounnankpon Yedomonhan of the National Herbarium of Bénin for the identification and maintenance of specimen vouchers.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sognigbe N’Danikou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enoch G. Achigan-Dako
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. G. Wong
    • 4
  1. 1.National Institute of Agricultural Research of Bénin (INRAB)CotonouRepublic of Bénin
  2. 2.Laboratory of Plant Science, Faculty of Agronomic Sciences (FSA)University of Abomey-CalaviCotonouRepublic of Bénin
  3. 3.Plant Resources of Tropical AfricaNairobiKenya
  4. 4.Wild Resources LimitedBangorUK

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