New indicators of vulnerability and resilience of agroforestry systems to climate change in West Africa

West African agroforestry systems and climate change
  • Isidore GnonlonfounEmail author
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
  • Césaire Paul Gnanglè
  • Romain Lucas Glèlè Kakaï
Research Article


Climate change threatens ecosystems, including traditional agroforestry parklands. Assessing the level of vulnerability and resilience of any ecosystem to climate change is important for designing sustainable adaptation strategies and measures. We assessed farmers’ perceptions of the vulnerability of agroforestry systems to climate change in Benin. The objectives of the study were to (i) assess the effect of changes in climatic conditions on agroforestry systems, (ii) assess the endogenous indicators of vulnerability of agroforestry systems to climate change, and (iii) analyze agroforestry and cropping systems’ resilience to climate change. We hypothesized that some agroforestry systems are more resilient to climate change than others. A total of 233 household heads were surveyed, and seven agroforestry systems were assessed. Data collected included components, indicators of vulnerability, and the level of resilience of agroforestry systems. We characterized the agroforestry systems using a proportion of each woody trees species and density of tree. We differentiated the agroforestry systems with regard to vulnerability indicators using canonical factorial discriminant analysis with heplots for pairs of discriminant variables. The resilience of agroforestry and cropping systems was evaluated on a scale of 0 to 3 (0—not resilient to 3—most resilient). The number of components damaged in the system was the main indicator of the vulnerability of Anacardium occidentale and Citrus sinensis parks to climate change effects. Local people perceived age and density of Vitellaria paradoxa parks and mixed parks (Vitellaria paradoxaParkia biglobosa) as factors determining the vulnerability of these agroforestry systems to the effects of climate change. All agroforestry systems were perceived to be resilient to climate change but in different degrees. Manihot esculenta was reported as the most resilient crop to climate damage. For the first time, we found out specific endogenous indicators of the vulnerability of agroforestry systems to climate change, which are important to identify better adaptation strategies.


Agroforestry systems Climate change Traditional ecological knowledge Ecosystem services Food security 



This paper is an output of the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (WECARD) program for improvement of the resilience to climate change of agricultural ecosystems along catchment areas by participative development of anti-erosive and soil fertility management in agroforestry systems in six West African countries. We are grateful to the respondents.

Funding information

The World Bank provided contribution in funding this project.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isidore Gnonlonfoun
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
    • 2
  • Césaire Paul Gnanglè
    • 1
    • 3
  • Romain Lucas Glèlè Kakaï
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d’Estimations ForestièresUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviAbomey-CalaviBenin
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Ecologie AppliquéeUniversité d’Abomey-CalaviAbomey-CalaviBenin
  3. 3.National Institute of Agricultural Research of BeninCotonouBenin

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