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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea - page 5 / 12





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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices

protection. Mango was considered one of the best shade trees; the meeting places in the villages were often in the shade of a big mango or orange tree. Two young women said they would like to plant trees even if they did not get any benefits other than shade and visually aesthetic.

”The shade is a remarkable benefit because every time we have a meeting we gather together under a shade tree.” (Male, 18, student)

”Indeed, the shade of trees is important because sometimes if you must go for a long walk in the brush, you get hot and then you may want to have a rest in a shade of a tree.” (Male, 54, farmer)

Each year during the dry season the strong dusty Harmattan wind coming north- east from the Sahara blows through the hills of the prefecture of Mali, trees can protect a village from this wind:

”Trees protect us from strong winds. Big trees growing on the eastern side of the village form a windbreak that prevent corn and other cultivated plants falling and breaking” (Female, 34, married)

Many plants contain colorants that were used by the interviewees. By drying the leaves of Tamarindus indica L. the women made a red colorant with which they decorated their fingers, toes, and nails. In the prefecture of Mali, people still knew how to make indigo blue with natural dye. A variety of plants provide the indigo dye, and some of them grow in the area. Dyeing cotton clothes indigo was popular in the region, and for many women it was an important source of income. Indigo clothes were also exported abroad.

The occurrence of rains was seen as one of the main benefits of trees. Half of the interviewees were sure that trees could attract rains. They said that it would rain only rarely in deforested areas. They had also recognised that rivers and brooks would lose water faster if there were no plants growing on the banks.

When asked what would happen if some kind of disaster, like a long drought period, would kill all plants, including trees. Trees were so important that for some of the interviewees even imaging this situation was difficult. Most of the interviewees thought that under such harsh conditions moving to another area would be necessary:

“In that situation we would suffer. We couldn’t have shade from the sun, we couldn’t use litter as fertilisers on the fields and so very soon we would suffer from hunger.” (Male, 77, retired)

“Hunger would make us to move to other area where living conditions are better. In that kind of disaster we just couldn’t adapt to live here any more.” (Male, 70, farmer)

Only two persons said that it would be possible to adapt to such a situation, for example by planting tree seedlings. Half of the interviewees thought that such a disaster was very possible. Four persons said that it could happen because of


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