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University of Helsinki (2007)

Is prosopis a curse or a blessing ? : An ecological economic analysis of an invasive alien tree species in Sudan

Laxén, Jörn P.E.

Titre : Is prosopis a curse or a blessing ? : An ecological economic analysis of an invasive alien tree species in Sudan

Auteur : Laxén, Jörn P.E.

Université de soutenance : University of Helsinki

Grade : Doctoral dissertation 2007

The issue of the usefulness of different prosopis species versus their status as weeds is a matter of hot debate around the world. The tree Prosopis juliflora had until 2000 been proclaimed weedy in its native range in South America and elsewhere in the dry tropics. P. juliflora or mesquite has a 90-year history in Sudan. During the early 1990s a popular opinion in central Sudan and the Sudanese Government had begun to consider prosopis a noxious weed and a problematic tree species due to its aggressive ability to invade farmlands and pastures, especially in and around irrigated agricultural lands. As a consequence prosopis was officially declared an invasive alien species also in Sudan, and in 1995 a presidential decree for its eradication was issued.
Using a total economic valuation (TEV) approach, this study analysed the impacts of prosopis on the local livelihoods in two contrasting irrigated agricultural schemes. Primarily a problem-based approach was used in which the derivation of non-market values was captured using ecological economic tools.
In the New Halfa Irrigation Scheme in Kassala State, four separate household surveys were conducted due to diversity between the respective population groups. The main aim was here to study the magnitude of environmental economic benefits and costs derived from the invasion of prosopis in a large agricultural irrigation scheme on clay soil. Another study site, the Gandato Irrigation Scheme in River Nile State represented impacts from prosopis that an irrigation scheme was confronted with on sandy soil in the arid and semi-arid ecozones along the main River Nile.
The two cases showed distinctly different effects of prosopis but both indicated the benefits to exceed the costs. The valuation on clay soil in New Halfa identified a benefit/cost ratio of 2.1, while this indicator equalled 46 on the sandy soils of Gandato. The valuation results were site-specific and based on local market prices. The most important beneficial impacts of prosopis on local livelihoods were derived from free-grazing forage for livestock, environmental conservation of the native vegetation, wood and non-wood forest products, as well as shelterbelt effects. The main social costs from prosopis were derived from weeding and clearing it from farm lands and from canalsides, from thorn injuries to humans and livestock, as well as from repair expenses vehicle tyre punctures. Of the population groups, the tenants faced most of the detrimental impacts, while the landless population groups (originating from western and eastern Sudan) as well as the nomads were highly dependent on this tree resource. For the Gandato site the monetized benefit-cost ratio of 46 still excluded several additional beneficial impacts of prosopis in the area that were difficult to quantify and monetize credibly. In River Nile State the beneficial impact could thus be seen as completely outweighing the costs of prosopis.
The results can contributed to the formulation of national and local forest and agricultural policies related to prosopis in Sudan and also be used in other countries faced with similar impacts caused by this tree


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