These options are part of State policy, which is based on decentralisation, and devolution of power from the State to decentralised territorial communities, particularly in the area of “Land Management”. Among the specific options which have been approved, the following may be listed:
increasing the participation of the population in combating desertification;
settling young people in their communities through the generation of employment in these environments;
full participation of populations in decision making from bottom up (decentralisation process);
strengthening family education;
strengthening environmental education;
intensification of agricultural productions;
development of knowledge on the constituent components of biological diversity.
cHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
The national monograph on biological diversity represents the foundation for the development of national strategies and action plans concerning the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of its constituent components and the promotion of the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources. Thus, the country study is a reference document, which enables to measure the actual capacities of effective management of biological resources in order to improve management approaches. Moreover, it is a didactic tool of reference. However, the country study will have to be updated as new important data on biological diversity is made available.
This study presents the natural environment of Burkina Faso, compiles the ecological, biological and economic data arising out of the country’s biological resources, identifies the threats to renewable resources of the environment and, finally, puts forward the options required to reverse the negative trends on biological diversity. And to contribute to further the knowledge on biological diversity, it was necessary to deal, in the first place, with the notion of biological diversity in this study.
1.1 BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
The notion of biological diversity
The general public is very little familiar with the term “biological diversity”. Indeed, there are many people who are wondering what biological diversity is. It was not until the end of the seventies that the notion of biological diversity began to become a concern in informed circles.
Yet, hardly time goes by without man benefiting from the good deeds of biological diversity. For example, the foods deriving from plants and animals, clothes made from cotton and silk, furniture made from wood, drugs manufactured from plant and animal extracts, etc., are good deeds from biological diversity.
The word “diversity” designates the number, the variety and variability of living organisms (OCDE, 1996. Préserver la diversité biologique).
The term “biology” deals with the manifestations of condition in the form of life, such as genes (from DNA to gametes), plants (from algae to baobab tree), animals (from the virus to the elephant or whale). Biology also deals with reactions to organisms, the ones with the others (eg. : heat breaks down organisms, which can lead to the birth of other lives).
Ecology deals with the living conditions of living organisms and with the relationships they establish between themselves. The result of these conditions and relationships constitutes a unique functional system known as ecosystem.
The notion of “biological diversity” designates the varieties and/or the variability of genes, species and ecosystems. Thus, the Convention on biological diversity defines “biological diversity” in Article 2 as the “variability of living organisms of any origin, including, among others, terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes they belong to; this comprises the diversity within species and between species”.
Biological diversity is divided into three main components. They are :
Genetic diversity : hereditary variability contained in genes (eg. : heredity related to form, size and colour of plants and animals); biotechnology, genetic improvement and the extraction of medicinal substances from plants and animals are made possible thanks to the genetic materiel the latter contains;
Diversity of species : taxonomic differentiation of plants and animals, including micro-organisms, as well as the differentiations within species (varieties, breeds);
Diversity of ecosystems : variety of ecological systems contributing to maintain forms of life (e.g. : ecosystems of forests, mountains, savannahs, marines and fresh water ecosystems).
The number of the constituent components of biological diversity known today is very little as compared with the diversity of what exists on our planet. According to scientists, only 1.7 million (OCDE , 1996 : Préserver la diversité biologique, p.20) of species are known in the world out of a total of 12 million estimated nowadays. Therefore, man totally ignores all the services that the rest of the unknown species may supply him, whereas, it has been established that man derives from biological diversity the essential part of products for his life.
The Convention distinguishes between biological diversity (see definition above) and “biological resources” which are genetic resources, organisms or components of these organisms, populations, or any other biotic component of ecosystems with actual or potential use or value for humanity. By way of illustration, the following examples can be given : millet, rice, potato, yam, shea kernel, nere seeds, crocodile, tilapia, antelope, hare, ox, hen, plant and animal varieties and breeds, forest, savannah, river, grasslands, fallows, etc. A constituent component of biological diversity (a species for example) which man ignores the use in his milieu may be a biological resource elsewhere, or become one later in the same place. This is the reason why it is necessary to safeguard all the components of biological diversity.