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Accueil du site → Doctorat → Allemagne → 2017 → Vegetation changes and their consequences for the provisioning service of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in a West African savanna

Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität (2017)

Vegetation changes and their consequences for the provisioning service of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in a West African savanna

Leßmeister Anna

Titre : Vegetation changes and their consequences for the provisioning service of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in a West African savanna

Auteur : Leßmeister Anna

Université de soutenance : Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität

Grade : Doktorgrades der Naturwissenschaften 2017

Résumé partiel
Savannas provide essential ecosystem services for human well-being in West Africa. Thus, ecosystem change not only directly affects biodiversity but also human livelihoods. Human land use considerably shaped these savanna ecosystems for millennia, particularly agriculture, livestock grazing, logging and the collection of non-timber forest products (NTFPs). NTFPs are wild plant products and comprise all organic matter from herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees (excluding timber). Current increasing land use pressure through fast demographic changes is widely esteemed as a severe threat for savanna biodiversity and the socio-economy of rural communities. In consideration of the pivotal role of NTFP species for biodiversity and livelihoods, it is important to evaluate the effect of increasing land use change on savanna vegetation and on its provisioning service for human well-being. Thus, the major aim of this thesis is to investigate the impacts of land use intensification on vegetation composition, diversity and function and its consequences for provisioning ecosystem services (NTFPs) and human well-being in a West African savanna. The research for this study was conducted in the North Sudanian vegetation zone of south-eastern Burkina Faso, where population growth exceeds the nationwide trend. Generally, Burkina Faso belongs to the worldwide poorest countries, where nearly one quarter of the population suffers from malnutrition (FAO 2014). The integration of NTFPs and particularly wild food species into rural household economies is, thus, an important measure in the national combat against poverty and food insecurity (FAO 2014). Against this background, I focus on vegetation changes, the economic importance of NTFPs as well as the decrease and substitution of wild food species in this study. Vegetation resurveys of different vegetation types since the early 1990s showed that land use change led to more pronounced changes in the herbaceous than in the woody vegetation layer. Most woody vegetation types stayed stable in species composition and richness, even though some highly useful tree species (Vitellaria paradoxa, Parkia biglobosa) declined in some woody vegetation types. In contrast, in most herbaceous vegetation types species richness increased and species composition considerably changed. This change might be explained by a general ruderalisation process through a pronounced increase of wide-ranging herbaceous species. However, in spite of a general species increase in the herbaceous layer, a decrease of preferred herbaceous fodder species was found. Thus, the decline of useful species in both layers is alarming. Herbaceous vegetation types also showed more pronounced changes in plant functional trait characteristics in comparison to woody vegetation types. However, an increase of smaller plant species and species with a high diaspore terminal velocity (VTerm) was found in both vegetation layers. Since these two trait responses are generally related to grazing and browsing, the strong increase of livestock herds is likely to be responsible for the detected vegetation changes.

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