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Case #686

Identifying and Marketing Traditional Uses of Plants Helps To Prevent Deforestation


In Guinea, a city based researcher teamed up with a man who teaches traditional farming methods in rural areas to work to save the soungala tree. This tree is important to cattle herders as the foliage is good food for cattle. The two men originally planned to make this use of the soungala tree more widely known, with the hope of reducing deforestation in the regions where it typically grows. After the two men began working together (on their own time and expense) they shifted their focus slightly. As it turns out, the trees'main significance resides in its seeds, which are used to produce sintin, a non-fermented drink traditionally prepared by women. Due to its high sugar content, sintin is an energy-giving drink, hence appropriate for consumption during the long hours spent working in the fields, or during Ramadan, when, if drunk in the morning, it helps dull the appetite for the rest of the day. Centuries of use have proven its curative and palliative properties in the treatment of conditions such as gastritis, ulcers, spasms, hemorrhoids and nausea. Working with a local informal women's cooperative, the men helped the women learn how to market and sell sintin at local markets. Thus, two objectives were met: a viable local economic activity was created and the trees became more protected as the value they held alive was greater than the value of the timber when cut.


The Strategy: Prevent deforestation (in certain areas of Guinea) by promoting the value of native trees as live trees and not cut timber resources. The original focus in this case was a particular trees' value as cattle forage. Then the focus shifted to include tree seed production as the seeds could be harvested to make a traditional drink to be sold in local markets. What Worked: The value of the trees was shown to be greater when they were protected as renewable resources รข?? as opposed to a one-time cash production as a timber source. Thus forest protection took on greater importance. The women's cooperative created a new income generation project. The local village gained a new economic input. Important Points: Set up by environmental organizations and local communities themselves, one of the systems being used to curb deforestation in Guinea, as in many other parts of the world, is the foresterie villageoise. Rural communities assume responsibility for protecting the part of the forest lying within their jurisdiction. They do this by developing new environmental awareness and promoting sustainable and long-lasting use of the forest's resources.
Location: Guinea
Action: Economic/Business
Setting: Third World
Extent of Action: National
Issues: Agriculture, Conservation
Year(s): 1999
Outcome successful for now
Source: The Slow Food Website


Prepared By: sl, 11/05
Rating: 1
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