Local Values, Social Differentiation and Conservation Efforts: The Impact of Ethnic Affiliation on the Valuation of NTFP-Species in Northern Benin, West Africa
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- Heubach, K., Wittig, R., Nuppenau, EA. et al. Hum Ecol (2013) 41: 513. doi:10.1007/s10745-013-9592-x
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Non-timber forest products contribute significantly to rural livelihoods in the West African savannas. This study investigates differences in use preferences for native woody species in six categories of plant use and their economic returns among five ethnic groups in Northern Benin. Ethnobotanical survey data from 230 households revealed that both ethnic affiliation and location significantly impact species’ valuation. Of a total of 90 species, 61 % were used for medicinal applications, 41 % as firewood, 39 % for construction, and 32 % as human foods. While certain plant species were used by all rural dwellers, others were used exclusively by particular ethnic groups. Vitellaria paradoxa, Parkia biglobosa and Adansonia digitata are key economic species for all groups. Conservation measures should consider multi-purpose trees fulfilling subsistence and cash needs while taking into consideration cultural differences in use preferences.