Supporting the development of democratic and locally controlled small-scale enterprises based on non-wood forest products in Burkina Faso
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs) are an essential part of traditional livelihoods and culture in the drylands of West Africa. They are an important part of agriculture and food systems and remain popular with rural people and recently urbanized populations. Communities generally have free access to communal forest resources, and NWFPs are already an alternative source of income for rural households, especially for women, as they are one of the few resources that women can access, manage, and control. Yet, while residents have access to a large number of trees, the value chains are underdeveloped in terms of potential production levels, end markets, and supporting services. Additionally, the threats of deforestation and degradation are becoming ever more present. TREE AID developed a series of initiatives to help rural populations take fuller advantage of opportunities for commercial trade in tree products while empowering these communities to protect and manage the forests they use and develop their potential to contribute to livelihood needs and well-being. This article focuses on TREE AID’s work in the development of locally controlled Village Tree Enterprises based on NWFPs and in building stronger, decentralized forest governance in Burkina Faso. The approach has the potential to be applied more widely and scaled-out to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.