Natural resource management and anti-desertification policy in the Sahel-Sudan zone: A case study of gum arabic


The philosophy of sustainable development argues that environmental conservation and economic development are complementary objectives in national economic planning. This contrasts with the more traditional view that development leads to inevitable sacrifies in envitronmental quality. This case study investigates a clear example of complementary in the Sahel-Sudan zone through an analysis of the economics of planting Acacia senegal to produce gum hashab (“gum arabic”). A. senegal has many environmentally benign functions besides producing gum as a cash crop. It is leguminous, stabilises soils, provides fodder and firewood and effevtively provides a ‘buffer’ against desertification. Nonetheless, the gum arabic belt is suffering increased degradation due to drought, population movement and, in the past, wrong economic incentives to farmers. Economic incentives have recently improved and the paper offers a partial cost-benefit analysis of A. senegal production to show that planting can achieve high economic rates of return.

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This paper was presented to the International Task Force on Human Investment and Resource Use, UNESCO, Paris, March 1988, under the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) programme.

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Pearce, D. Natural resource management and anti-desertification policy in the Sahel-Sudan zone: A case study of gum arabic. GeoJournal 17, 349–355 (1988).

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  • Economic Development
  • Natural Resource
  • Environmental Management
  • Sustainable Development
  • Resource Management