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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of Guinea - page 9 / 12

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Non-wood Forest Benefits and Agroforestry Practices

an encouraging experience when using living fences to improve the livelihoods of Somali farmers. In Fouta Djallon living fences could contribute to combating poverty. They require maintenance, but compared to the traditional fencing the workload would probably diminish according to the NGO workers in the area. Replacing traditional fences with fences like living fences that do not need to be rebuilt each year would decrease the pressure on the forests to supply fencing materials; this benefit could, however, also be attained by using wire-netting fences. In the neighbouring country of Mali, many positive effects have been obtained with fences composed of Jatropha curcas L. (Henning 1996). There are several potential species for living fencing; appropriate selection requires preliminary studies of the species suitability to the environment in question.

Forests are considered indispensable to life in general and all their benefits – implicit or explicit - are highly valued. Hence, forests and trees could have a considerably greater role in ensuring and increasing the well-being of the inhabitants of the region. Yet, an increase in forest resources or in their exploitation does not guarantee a decrease in poverty as such, and may even increase it. Likewise, a decrease in forests resources may also have both positive and negative effects on livelihoods. To secure a balanced and harmonious development, any strengthening of the forest sector should be planned in way that the goal of poverty reduction can really be reached. It is questionable if forestry alone can end poverty. As Palo and Lehto (2005) have stated it is likely that poverty reduction on a large scale by the tropical forests will remain rhetoric as long as no integrated theory exists to indicate the operational steps to be followed.

Fouta Djallon is a typical region that has a high degree of male migration; the heads-of-household are therefore often women. Because of the importance women now have in this rural economy it is necessary that any policies and programmes advocated take into account this role of woman. In Guinea, the national household survey data reveals that women are not more likely than men to be consumption poor or to suffer greater consumption poverty (Shaffer 1998). However, Shaffer (1998) found that women are “worse off” than men when deprivation includes, inter alia, excessive work load and reduced decision- making authority.

Multidisciplinary and diverse research activities could yield useful information for the inhabitants of the study area that could be used when they try to find new possibilities for ensuring their livelihoods and well-being. The needs for further study in the region include building and maintaining living fences, regenerating indigenous tree species, the interrelationship between the quantity and use of forest resources, and the composition of the livelihoods and incomes of the families.

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