Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Molly Cavaleri


Agroforestry parklands represent a vast majority of the agricultural landscape under subsistent-oriented farming in semi-arid West Africa. Parklands are characterized by the growth of well- maintained trees (e.g., shea) on cultivated fields as a result of both environmental and human influences. Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) provides a cultural and economic benefit to the local people of Ghana, especially women. Periods between traditional fallow rotation systems have reduced recently due to agricultural development and a demand for higher production. As a result, shea trees, which regenerate during fallow periods, has decreased over the landscape. The aim of this study was to determine beneficial spatial distributions of V. paradoxa to maintain high yields of staple crops, and how management of V. paradoxa will differ between male and female farmers as a result of farmer based needs and use of shea. Vegetation growth and grain yield of maize (Zea mays) associated with individual trees, clumped trees, and open fields were measured. Soil moisture and light availability were also measured to determine how V. paradoxa affected resource availability of maize in either clumped or scattered distributions of V. paradoxa. As expected, light availability increased as measurement locations moved farther away from all trees. However, soil moisture was actually greater under trees in clumps than under individual trees. Maize stalk height and cob length showed no difference between clumped and single trees at each measurement location. Grain yield per plot and per cob increased as measurement locations moved farther from single trees, but was actually greater near clumped trees that in the open field subplots. Cob length and maize stalk height increased with greater light availability, but grain yield per cob or per plot showed no relationship with light, but were not affected by soil moisture. Conversely, grain yield increased with increasing soil moisture, but had no relationship with light availability. Initial farming capital is the largest constraint to female farmers; therefore the collection of shea can help provide women with added income that could meet their specific farming needs. Our data indicate that overall effects of maintaining clumped distributions of V. paradoxa provided beneficial microclimates for staple crops when compared to single trees. It is recommended that male and female farmers allow shea to grow in clumped spatial distributions rather than maintaining scattered, individual trees.