It Takes a Tree to Save a Village

A plan to replenish the forests of the West African nation of Burkina Faso is at odds with the development of farms and villages, Inter Press Service reports.

The government wants to plant nine million trees to replace disappearing forests in the sub-Sahara region — but almost two-thirds of the country’s forests, about 110,000 hectares annually, are cleared for farming, according to official estimates.

Burkina environmental minister Salifou Sawadogo told IPS that cities and villages have grown within forested regions, creating tension between environmental and economic needs.

However, Moustapha Sarr, a park director in the capital Ouagadougou, said that local communities aren’t consulted in reforestation plans.

Indeed, a plan to move over 20,000 people during reforestation was put on hold, even as the government acknowledges the depth of the problem:

“As it stands, the gap between what we take and the forests’ capacity to regenerate themselves is significant,” Sarr told the wire service.

A study last year cited brushfires, overgrazing and illegal timber cutting as likely causes of deforestation.

Removing trees has also caused sediment blockage in rivers and streams.

As the United Nations embarks on a campaign to plant seven billion new trees worldwide, Burkina is starting its own initiative to reward communities’ preservation efforts with financial and other incentives.

— T.J. Johnston/


“Winning people over to reforestation”
Inter Press Service, July 26, 2008

“For forests under fire, a slight return”, July 2, 2008

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