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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea - page 6 / 12

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Nordic Journal of African Studies

shifting cultivation, excessive tree cuttings, or forest fires. Five persons argued that the disaster would happen if God made it happen. They said that people cannot decide what will happen in the future because everything happens as God wills it.

3.3 ATTITUDES TOWARDS AGROFORESTRY PRACTICES AND TREE PLANTATIONS

Fruit trees were usually cultivated in home gardens; other agroforestry practices were not commonly known in the study area. The respondents were asked about local people’s opinions of two agroforestry practices: living fences and tree plantations on fallow fields. There were several different negative and positive views of these practices (Table 1). Sixteen of the twenty-one interviewees thought that new methods could not be added to current cultivation methods while one quarter had more open minds for new ideas. Though there was a lot of scepticism concerning the importance of planting trees, a good example of the common attitudes is represented by the statement from one man: “Every plant has its meaning.”

The scepticism to the use of living fences was probably due to a lack of knowledge of the technology; most of the people had never seen efficient living fences. In two villages there were wire-netting fences that had been built with funds from the NGO Indigo, without this kind of external funding these fences would have been too expensive for the villagers. The traditional fences of brushwood around gardens and fields were rebuilt once a year, requiring a lot of wood and time. One average fence demands about 15 days of work for maintenance and reconstruction during a year. Living fences were proposed to solve the problem of animals entering and destroying cultivated areas.

When describing living fences some trees that were traditionally used as fences were mentioned including Jatropha curcas L. and Spondias monbin L. In these cases the trees were not planted or managed in a way that they were effective as living fences. In some places there were fences made from living sisal (Agave sisalana (Perrine ex Engelm.). One interviewee was unsatisfied with his sisal fence, since as the plants got older there were more holes in the fence.

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