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Biodiversity field trials to inform reforestation and natural resource management strategies along the African Great Green Wall in Senegal


Forest restoration is carried out with varying objectives in mind, one of which is biodiversity conservation. The present study examines the extent by which tree biodiversity could potentially be maximized in the context of the pan-African Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative (GGW). Towards this end, ten indigenous tree species were selected for study in the Ferlo region in Northern Senegal based on previous ethnobotanical studies in the zone. The species included Acacia senegal, Acacia nilotica, Acacia tortilis subsp. raddiana, Acacia seyal, Adansonia digitata, Balanites aegyptiaca, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Sclerocarya birrea, Tamarindus indica and Ziziphus mauritiana. Germination experiments were first performed in the laboratory on seed lots from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and South Africa prior to in situ sapling production in the nursery in Northern Senegal situated along the GGW. A split plot field design was employed and the effects of seed provenance (two per species) and the addition of organic fertilizer at the timing of planting were determined. Over the course of the 2 year experimental period, the newly planted trees, in addition to the naturally regenerating woody vegetation and herbaceous grasses were monitored in the fenced-in experimental field plot. Of the ten species, only B. aegyptiaca, A. tortilis subsp. raddiana, and S. birrea exhibited moderate survival rates. The effects of provenance and fertilizer addition were sporadic and species-dependent. Natural regeneration of woody species was abundant albeit characterized by low biodiversity whereas herbaceous grass species showed extensive biodiversity, especially under tree canopies as compared to open areas.

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The authors sincerely thank the Senegalese National Great Green Wall Agency for technical and logistical assistance. A warm thanks goes to Mbacké Fall and villagers for invaluable help in the nursery at Widou Thiengoly. We also thank Arnaud Ouedraogo who helped us to localize some of the “out-of-the-way” places in Burkina Faso from which our seeds came from. We thank Seyni Sané for help in statistical analyses. We thank Karine Ginoux and Sophie Drame who always insure that our field missions runs as smoothly as possible from an administrative standpoint. The authors acknowledge Institut Klorane and Fondation Véolia Environnement for financial support and a Ph.D. fellowship for T. I. Wade and to Labex DRIIHM (ANR-11-LABX-0010) (Laboratoire d’Excellence Dispositif de Recherche Interdisciplinaire sur les Interactions Hommes-Milieux) for M. Mauclaire’s PhD fellowship. We thank the CNRS Observatoire Hommes-Milieux Tessékéré (OHMi) and the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (French National Research Agency) (project Future Sahel – ANR-15-CE03-0001) for funding this research. Finally, we acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their comments that have allowed us to improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Deborah Goffner.

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Wade, T.I., Ndiaye, O., Mauclaire, M. et al. Biodiversity field trials to inform reforestation and natural resource management strategies along the African Great Green Wall in Senegal. New Forests 49, 341–362 (2018).

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  • Indigenous African trees
  • Biodiversity
  • Green Wall
  • Natural regeneration