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Ethnobotany and Conservation in West Africa

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Ethnobotany and Conservation in West Africa
Africa is the second largest continent and has the second largest rainforest block. Africa has diverse plant resources and indigenous communities that still rely largely on plants for their livelihood. This episode discusses uses and management of plant resources in West Africa in three parts: First, are presented the distribution of ecological variation and human population density in Africa. People populate mostly the savannah region of the continent, leaving the vast infertile desert and the harsh rainforest regions less populated. Increasing population density and its concentration in the savannah areas is, among other reasons, responsible for high forest degradation rates and high plant harvesting impact in Sub-Saharan Africa. Second, the different indigenous uses of plant resources are reviewed: food, medicine and cosmetic, fodder, firewood and charcoal, building and timber. There is a severe firewood crisis in the region and harvesting non-timber forest products such as tree fodder, tree bark for medicine, is participating to the degradation of the forest. Third is an analysis of indigenous as well as government management strategies of forest and forest resources. Sacred forests and agroforestry parklands are some of the traditional ways of conserving plant species of local interest. The state management strategy has shift from an official protectionism of the state reserve forest, to a more participatory approach, although the level of implication of indigenous people has varied over the years.

Production Credits

Presented by:

  • Orou Gaoue

Themes and Content by:

  • Isabella Abbott

  • Al Keali'i Chock

  • Will McClatchey

  • Mylien T. Nguyen

  • Tamara Ticktin

  • David Webb

Special Presentations and Content by:

  • Tony A.B. Cunningham

  • Catherine Davenport

  • Orou Gaoue

  • Lisa X. Gollin

  • Y. Han Lau

  • Spencer Leinweber

  • Mark Merlin

  • Levon ‘ohai

  • Joseph Ostraff

  • Melinda Ostraff

  • Orlo Steele

  • Clay Trauernicht

  • Art Whistler

  • Namaka Whitehead

  • Kawika Winter

Post Production Critique by:

  • Al Keali'i Chock

  • Momi Kamahele

  • Kiope Raymond

  • Botany 105 Students (Fall 2005)

Camera Work by:

  • David Reedy

  • David Strauch

  • Michael B. Thomas

Video and Sound Editing by:

  • Markus Faigle

  • David Reedy

  • David Strauch

  • Michael B. Thomas

Audio Production by:

  • Will McClatchey

  • David Reedy

Consulting by:

  • Edo Biagoni

  • Kim Bridges

  • Pauline Chinn

  • Valerie McClatchey

  • Hae Okimoto

  • Nelda Quinsell

  • Ingelia White

Funding provided by:

  • University of Hawai'i, Department of Botany

  • University of Hawai'i, Information Technology Services

  • University of Hawai'i, College of Natural Sciences

  • University of Hawai'i, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • National Center for Academic Transformation

  • University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Chancellor

Inspiration from:

  • Isabella Abbott

  • Michael Balick

  • Brad Bennett

  • Brent Berlin

  • Paul Cox

  • Memory Elvin-Lewis

  • Timothy Johns

  • Beatrice Krauss

  • Walter Lewis

  • Richard Evans Schultes

  • Gail Wagner

  • The Society for Economic Botany


Supplemental Readings

Cunningham, A.B. 2001. Applied Ethnobotany: People, wild plant use and conservation. EarthScan, London.

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