Country study on burkina faso biodiversity conducted by the permanent secretariat of the national council for the management of the environment and the national

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The conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity have been implicitly taken into account in policies of planning, management and research concerning natural resources in Burkina Faso since the colonial period. But the efforts put in are variable according to the different domains. Besides, the collected information is far from being exhaustive because of the scattering of the documentation with regard to structures implied in the management of biological diversity.

It is concerning management of forests, fauna and fishing that the efforts were most remarkable. Indeed, we have in-situ conservation programmes for these domains, even though difficulties of management persist. There is a herbarium of flora and inventories made concerning fauna and halieutic resources that give a partial situation of the reality.
As regards agriculture, several collections of species, subspecies, varieties and ecotypes were realised and preserved ex-situ either on the spot or with appointed agencies (ICRISAT). They are, essentially, research organisations that hold collections, each institute maintaining the material for the purpose of its own activities.
Concerning breeding, since the first descriptions made notably by French researchers of IEMVT before independence, no updating inventory has been made. It is urgent to proceed with such an inventory and an assessment of the existing patrimony following the provoked or spontaneous crossbreeding. As indicated, some rich information already exists, but remains dispersed. Consequently, it is necessary to proceed with a real campaign of collection, storage and assessment of present local and exotic resources in the country.
For all these domains, the legislation should be adapted in order to favour a real conservation of biological diversity that gives the local populations responsibility.
As indicated all along the present document, a real political will as well as some strategic plans exist. However, it is urgent to adapt all the approaches to the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity to which Burkina Faso subscribed.
Prevention and resolution of conflicts between the different groups lusting after renewable natural resources are therefore a vital necessity and must be an integral part of the management strategies of these natural resources and biological diversity. In this sense, the effective taking into account of customary regulation (as far as it constitutes a plus), constitutes one of the appropriate options that deserves to be strongly supported in the future.
In addition, it must be mentioned that a consequent regulation concerning the introduction of animal and plant species on the one hand, and putting in quarantine on the other hand, would protect the national patrimony from illnesses and the introduction of invading species. The control of the importation of modified living organism is also imperative. In fact, the absence of a consequent regulation leads to the non protection of national patrimony resources.


From the preceding collected data, conclusions and priority options are summarised as follows by sector whose elements compose the biological diversity.


On the deterioration of ecosystems and habitats, there is an important documentation describing causes and consequences, and evaluating the extent of the phenomenon. However, there are few recent data - even old ones - on the dynamics of ecosystems and habitats under the impact of ecological change, or threats weighing on biological diversity. An effort should be made:

  • to adopt a nomenclature and a classification of milieux that are consensual for Burkinabè technicians (this process is currently under way) ;

  • to make an inventory and an assessment of the knowledge and local know-how concerning conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity by the different sociocultural and ethnic groups of Burkina Faso. In this context sacred-woods and concrete actions of traditional conservation will have to be listed and evaluated on the ecological plan;

  • to put in place, at the national and regional levels, an effective system of continuous surveillance of the environment, notably the follow-up of the qualitative and quantitative dynamics of environment and the animal and plant biological diversity;

  • to establish at the national and regional levels reliable maps of the evolution of the ecosystems and habitats;

  • to proceed with the economic assessment of the biological diversity and biological resources.


In spite of their status, the protected forests, parks and other reserves of Burkina Faso have been deteriorating at a frightening rate because of two main factors: drought and human activities.

Also, a national strategy of conservation of biological diversity must be oriented towards the objectives and actions below:

  • improved knowledge of the state of flora and vegetation of protected forests;

  • control of bush fires;

  • best forest resource valorisation;

  • promotion of local species;

  • control of pastures;

  • reinforcement of agroforestry activities;

  • reinforcement of environmental education;

  • knowledge of the past (from historical and research data collected from neighbouring populations) of plant formations at the time of their classification;

  • inventory of the flora and the ligneous and herbaceous potential of the protected forests;

  • knowledge of the physical environment and the socioeconomic context of protected forests: relationship between forests and neighbouring populations;

  • appreciation of modifications undergone by the flora and vegetation of protected forests and analysis of factors that govern this dynamics;

  • identification, outside of the classified perimeters, of zones of floral interest that can be the object of classification in compensation of very damaged forests that could be given up to the neighbouring populations in view of regeneration by the CES / DRS techniques;

  • improvement of knowledge on the phenomenon of drought and desertification;

  • reinforcement of the national herbarium;

  • setting up of a data bank on the protected forests and the development of a forest flora and a national nomenclature of the forest essences of Burkina Faso.

Considering what precedes, it appears indispensable to establish a major programme of activities based on the knowledge, rational exploitation and conservation of flora and the vegetation of protected forests for a sustainable development. This programme would integrate the following activities:

  • promotion of non-ligneous forest products in order to better contribute to the safeguard ligneous species by forestry actions.

  • valorisation of local forest species in reforestations while deepening research on germination and conservation of seeds, silviculture and adaptation of species to local conditions;

  • training of peasants in modern techniques of defence and restoration of soils, conservation of soil, water (CES/DRS) and agroforestry.

The know-how of peasants concerning CES/DRS and of agroforestry deserves to be better popularised. Indeed, results from this know-how are perceptible in some provinces, like those of Passoré and Sanmatenga for example. Indeed, we see magnificent perimeters here and there, where small barriers have been erected either with soil or blocks of laterite, from which emerge perennial bushes and graminae (Andropogon gayanus, for example), whereas spaces next to these perimeters are nearly naked. The practice of the Zaï in some provinces (that of Yatenga for example) permits to increase outputs in a substantial way and deserves to be extended to many more regions and arid and semi-arid zones of Burkina Faso.

These activities could be planned over periods of 20 to 30 years, in order to permit to better appreciate their impacts and to make a realistic assessment of such a scheduling of actions concerning conservation and sustainable use of resources.


The compilation made on the state of knowledge concerning the aquatic microflora and aquatic herbaceous flora permitted to establish that there are 191 algae and 185 species of aquatic flora composed in majority of angiosperms and cryptogams of large size. These figures established from a reduced number of explored lakes incite to believe that Burkina Faso can be a big field with a great responsibility that it is necessary to discover. This compilation also reveals the lack of information on traditional knowledge and practice of conservation and sustainable use of resources in aquatic flora, and this commands the realisation of investigations to discover them. On the other hand, numerous human activities have a negative impact on the conservation of this type of biological diversity, and it is convenient to count them by impact studies in order to define specific measures and actions that are imperative.

However, the following urgent actions should also be envisaged:

  • to prospect the totality of lakes or in default, representative samples;

  • to free the biomass of accumulated species with regard to some lakes, water hyacinth notably, to avoid their propagation and permit the resumption of socioeconomic activities where they exist; the neighbouring populations of affected lakes should be sensitised;

  • to create piscicultural units and use the phytoplankton for feeding phytophage fish species, because of examples of this kind have given convincing results in the Koubri dam and in Bazèga ;

  • to fix the banks of lakes, in particular those of the Sahel, in order to minimise the erosion of their edges and sandbanks.


The number of forest species cultivated in Burkina Faso represents 26% of the of the species that make up the flora. The native species represent 37% of cultivated species against 63% of exotic species. This clearly shows that the local species did not benefit sufficiently from a particular attention with regard to their use. Also, an effort should be made for the promotion of local species. This promotion should be made through planting of local species and in-situ and ex-situ conservations.

For that matter, the following actions would deserve to be undertaken:

  • to update and enrich the knowledge on cultivated species;

  • to sensitise decision-makers, economic operators and the public on benefits derived from local species;

  • to adapt forest activities to the needs of populations in order to guarantee a healthy management of biological diversity;

  • to involve and give responsibilities to women and children in natural resources management;

  • to master the financial contribution of cultivated local species to the national economy;

  • to enhance national capacities for a better knowledge of the value of cultivated and wild local species.


The problems that lead to the loss of agricultural biological diversity in Burkina Faso call for measures by way of solutions. These are for example:

  • increase in the exploring and collection of varieties of agricultural species and their ex-situ conservation, in order to save endangered species;

  • adoption of policies and elaboration of programmes and projects of in-situ conservation, to compensate for ex-situ conservation;

  • increase in the policies for settling farmers in their lands, in order to avoid displacements that accompany the abandonment of local cultivars on site;

  • strengthening the practice of techniques of defence and restoration of soils;

  • adoption of incentive measures in view of a better conservation of species and local varieties.


Burkina Faso has already elaborated a certain number of strategies for a sustainable management of its phytogenetic resources and that is still current. They are about:

  • making the inventory of already available material;

  • defining priorities in the matter of genetic resources;

  • identifying ecological zones where genetic diversity is threatened of extinction;

  • defining programmes for prospecting and collection;

  • promoting the creation of a national gene bank (ex-situ and in-situ) with a multidisciplinary vocation;

  • encouraging and harmonising some technical and scientific exchanges with regional, inter-regional and international gene banks;

  • arousing and valorising the interventions of scientific and financial partners;

  • encouraging the development of the use of local genetic patrimony within the local scientific communities;

  • evaluating the genetic diversity in order to put at the disposal of the selector material whose useful characteristics are immediately exploitable;

  • managing in the global setting of the conservation of the environment, natural reserves where wild communities and cultivated species vegetate;

  • sensitising urban and village populations on highly deplorable risks of genetic erosion that any excessive and uncontrolled activities of man, animal and nature itself can provoke;

  • studying the legislative measures to be taken in order to ensure a healthy development of the diffusion of germplasm between the national users and international partners to ensure equitable sharing of benefits;

  • elaborating a general policy of genetic resources management by the diffusion, importation and exploitation of forms of genetic material;

  • working for the training of researchers, technicians and peasants wanting to work in the domain of conservation and use of phytogenetic resources.

In addition to these options, it seems urgent to:

  • encourage, at the national level, the creation of a national programme of research on phytogenetic resources that would lead in the shortest delay to the creation of a real gene bank. This problem must be solved without delay or the set of materials already collected will disappear, for it would be therefore disastrous that all the work already done be lost, for lack of means of conservation, regeneration and assessment, or by ending prospecting;

  • proceed with the creation of in-situ conservation units, insofar as a good number of cultivars are better preserved in their areas of origin;

  • undertake the repatriation of collections of Burkina Faso preserved in foreign gene banks;

  • study the question of the right of the obtainer, in order to get peasants interested in issues of phytogenetic resources.


On the national plan, actions in matters of ethnobotanic research in general, of medicinal plants in particular, remain relatively timid, and strictly speaking there is no elaborated strategy, even if we detect some promising indications on the subject. It appears therefore urgent:

  • to update the list of species already indexed as medicinal plants;

  • to make an inventory and a list of all plant and animal species used in medicine and traditional pharmacopoeia;

  • to proceed with in-situ and ex-situ conservation of medicinal plants;

  • to promote the growing of medicinal plants;

  • to adapt the legislation to the objectives of conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;

  • to preserve the know-how of tradipracticians and ancestral knowledge;

  • to evaluate the contribution of medicinal plants to domestic and national economy.


The major objective that prevails in the matter of domestic fauna resides in the increase in productivity and conservation of species and races. To arrive at this, the following measures deserve to be taken:

  • conservation of species and local races;

  • genetic improvement of species and local races;

  • optimisation of breeding;

  • promotion of traditional breeding.

The fauna of the wild vertebrates of Burkina Faso is relatively rich in species, in spite of the insufficient state of our knowledge of them.
In Burkina Faso, wild fauna constitutes an important link of protein contribution to populations and is the object of an important poaching. To valorise this fauna patrimony better, the country has undertaken:

  • to rationalise the exploitation and management of hunting zones in promoting some private initiatives;

  • to reinforce synergetic tourism and ecotourism;

  • to strengthen the protection of synergetic resources;

  • to promote “ranching” and small private breeding.

Considering the insufficient level of our knowledge of the wild fauna it is also imperative:

  • to proceed with its advanced taxonomic study;

  • to proceed with a periodic national counting of individual species;

  • to enhance national human capacities in fauna taxonomy;

  • to involve neighbouring populations more in actions of fauna conservation in making them benefit to the best from repercussions of this management;

  • to create domains classified buffer zones in order to avoid or to limit aggressions of fauna habitats by populations;

  • to adapt the legislation to the approach adopted for the conservation and use of this fauna.


Income generating and ecological and cultural value preserver, biological diversity of aquatic fauna in Burkina Faso contributes to the growth of the standard of living of rural populations.

Unfortunately, only vertebrates (fish, birds, reptiles and bactrachians) are known well enough; and there again it is the fishes that have benefited from a relatively greater attention. Fishes alone contribute close to 3.7 billion F CFA to the value added in the national economy, in spite of the under exploitation of this resource. Indeed, only 7,000 tons of fish out of a potential of 12,500 tons are exploited annually, but this is far from covering the national needs.
The present protective measures of the humid zones and halieutic resources are recorded at many levels (R.A.F., Environmental Code, Forest Code...). In other respects, the policies and national strategy of fishing development and some lakes and development programmes in general are about humid zones protection, without granting them a place of choice for all that.
To fill these gaps, the following options were adopted:

  • to master the halieutic potentialities;

  • to better organise fishermen;

  • to work for the optimisation of catches;

  • to bring logistic and financial supports to associations of fishermen.

Having seen the diagnosis presented in this document and the main conclusions drawn, the following complementary options could come to reinforce those enumerated above:

  • to elaborate a legislation and/or a specific regulation on these zones that take into account all the aspects related to their conservation (protect, make viable and valorise), considering the fragility of humid zones, their ecological, socioeconomic and cultural importance;

  • to undertake some studies on the knowledge of macro, meso and micro invertebrates (crustaceans, molluscs, insects, zooplanktons), considering the ignorance of invertebrate communities that populate humid zones;

  • to undertake some complementary studies in order to fill the gaps concerning aquatic and semi-aquatic vertebrate knowledge.

8.2.11 INSECTS

Data collected in this document on entomological fauna are not complete enough, given the scattering of data at the national level and the level of foreign institutes, such as the Museum of Natural history in Paris.

It appears of highest interest for the knowledge of the entomological fauna of Burkina Faso and for a better management of resources, that a project of national entomological Collection finally sees the day. Considering the insufficiency of inventories of insects in Burkina Faso and considering the fundamental role played by these invertebrates in several domains of which pollination of plants, food chains, natural biological balances, decomposition of organic matter and its incorporation in soils, transmission of serious illness to man, animals and plants and destruction of crops, this project appears to be of great interest.


In Burkina Faso, microbiology is nascent but it could have a great impact on the socioeconomic life in influencing: medicine, agriculture, food sciences, energy sector, ecology, and many other domains, because the use of micro-organisms in utilitarian goal is becoming an important stake for the well being of man. However, knowledge of these microscopic beings is very limited in our country.

Also, the essential orientation to take in the first place is to permit a better knowledge of these elements of biological diversity by researchers and producers. Actions to be undertake in this direction would hinge mainly on:

  • information and education on micro-organisms;

  • development of research in microbiology;

  • strengthening collections of conservation of micro-organisms : according to TRAORE A., 1997, it is only some stumps of micro-organisms that have been isolated in Burkina Faso these days.

Besides, microbiologists of Burkina Faso should look into:

  • medical questions linked to micro-organisms: biotechnology, hygiene, mastery of genetic engineering to amplify potentialities of micro-organisms in various domains (production of enzymes among others to replace genetic defaulting), etc.;

  • protection of environment by strengthening research in microbiology: researchers and students can constitute pole of expertise in biotechnology notably oriented towards questions of environment and valorisation of industrial waste, because the necessity of urban centre depollution has become imperative nowadays;

  • production and conservation of food: increase in food production thanks to the intervention of micro-organisms (fixing of nitrogen, carbon, minerals, etc.), industrial production of compounds useful to man (proteins, solvents, organic acids, antibiotics, etc.);

  • institutional development: for this it will be necessary to set up structures and an institutional organisation to specialise in different questions concerning micro-organisms.


The essential of options that are offered can be summed up as follows:

  • necessity to structure data to be collected according to a model which is compatible with Geographic Information System (GIS) and satisfying the necessary requirements;

  • show that maps to identify for collecting data on biological diversity does not rest on the number of “maps” to produce but rather on the following points:

  • clearly define goal of the information to search for;

  • define without ambiguity the objectives and attributes;

  • indicate the complexity of integrating data into GIS .


There are a great number of maps and other georeferenced information scattered in public organisations and elsewhere. It is important that a well structured inventory of these documents be realised to localise in an accurate way sources of information in view of using some of this information directly without needing to partially or completely reproduce them.


From the point of view of some major insufficiencies that hinder the objective of sustainable socioeconomic development, the recommended options below could contribute to reduce problems:

  • to undertake on the national plan information and sensitisation actions all out (populations, technicians, decision-makers, local elected officials, traditional chiefs, land custodians) on the issues of biological diversity in order to succeed in making participate effectively all the actors in the management of this diversity;

  • to capitalise and spread experiences of integrated management of natural resources;

  • to undertake qualitative, quantitative and economic assessment of biological resources and inherent real costs in their management.


It is in domain of forest, fauna and fishing management that efforts were most remarkable. Indeed, we have in-situ conservation programmes for these domains, even if difficulties of management persist. There is a national herbarium, a structure working in the matter of forest seeds, while inventories carried out on wild fauna and halieutic resources give a certain situation of the reality.

Concerning agriculture, several collections of species, subspecies, varieties and ecotypes have been realised and preserved ex-situ either on the spot or by appointed organisations (notably ICRISAT). It is essentially research that detains collections, each institute maintaining materials necessary for its own activities. It is therefore necessary to elaborate a systematic census programme of local and introduced phytogenetic resources and to envisage a programme of conservation. The choice being made for in-situ conservation.
Concerning breeding, since the first descriptions made notably by researchers of IEMVT before independence, no updating inventory has been made. It is imperative to proceed on such an inventory and assessment of the existing patrimony following provoked or spontaneous crossbreedings.


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