Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)

Administrative Home Department

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor 1

Audrey L. Mayer

Committee Member 1

Kari B. Henquinet

Committee Member 2

Blair D. Orr

Abstract

Sénégal is a semi-arid West African country with a diverse ethnic makeup and a rapidly growing population that is largely rural, predominantly employed within the agricultural sector, and heavily reliant on the harvesting of forest products within state owned forests where populations have usufruct rights. The country experienced significant changes in land cover throughout the 20th century due to a series of major droughts and large expansions in agriculture. These changes were partially concentrated throughout the region of Kaffrine, where the wooded savannas of the early 20th century were systematically replaced by agriculture and converted to a shrub and tree savanna through over exploitation (Tappan et al. 2004). In the early 21st century this trend reversed, as the area of lands under cultivation in the Kaffrine region dropped from an estimated 434,121 hectares to 144,619 hectares between 2009 and 2014 (ANSD 2010; ANSD 2015). This study evaluated perceptions of local populations and key informants regarding trends in forest cover within the region of Kaffrine from the 1980s through 2017 and compared those perceptions to remotely sensed data of tree cover loss and extent from Global Forest Watch over a similar period. Semi-structured interviews covering a range of topics regarding forest change and forest resources were conducted with local populations and key informants (Eaux et Forêts officials) within each of the four departments of Kaffrine. Local communities did not prove to be a good judge of overall forest increases or decreases within their departments (nor did they accurately estimate precipitation trends), except for the areas immediately surrounding their communities. However, local knowledge regarding changes in tree species abundance was a reasonable reflection of agroforestry trends, and locals understood connections between forests, precipitation, harvesting, and food security. Additionally, key informants proved to be lacking in up-to-date data regarding the state of forests within the region, and they appeared to have a pronounced lack of influence within local communities. Going forward, relationships need to be further developed between local communities and Eaux et Forêts to ensure better management of forest resources surrounding villages, where forests and woodlands experience heavy anthropogenic pressures.

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