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Use diversity and farmer’s preference of 48 local multipurpose fodder trees : a comparative analysis of three sociolinguistic groups of Benin
Native plant species in general and fodder trees in particular contribute significantly to the daily needs of both human and animal especially in developing countries. However, these important species are often neglected leading to the erosion of their diversity and usefulness. This study aimed to (i) quantify the impact of age, gender and ethnicity on the use and perceived value of local woody fodder species; (ii) identify the most important and preferred woody fodder species across sociolinguistic groups and (iii) identify the overharvested and underutilized woody fodder species across sociolinguistic groups. A total of 220 informants belonging to three sociolinguistic groups (Bariba, Nago and Peulh) were interviewed through a semi-structured survey on the fodder trees that they use for different purposes. The most cultural important fodder species ranked by the local people were determined for each sociolinguistic group. The species were categorized into six use categories by the informants: food, medicine, construction, fuel, veterinary and fodder. Afzelia africana, Khaya senegalensis and Pterocarpus erinaceus are the most widely used species by Peulhs and Bariba to feed animals, while for the Nagos, Mangifera indica comes first followed by Ficus umbellata, Ficus platyphylla and Pterocarpus erinaceus. Combining the different use categories, overharvested or underutilized species depend on the sociolinguistic group. But globally, A. africana, K. senegalensis, P. erinaceus and Mangifera indica are overharvested species whereas Ficus sycomorus, Combretum micranthum, Combretum molle, Balanites aegyptiaca, Crossopteryx febrifuga, Sarcocephalus latifolius, are underutilized species. For a sustainable management of pasture lands, it is suggested (i) an assessment of the availability of the overexploited species in the study area; (ii) their use in restoration, afforestation/reforestation and plantation activities.
Keywords: Biodiversity, Fodder trees, Local knowledge, Sociolinguistic group, Use