CHAPTER 4: COMPLEXITY OF NATURAL RESOURCES
AND BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT.
4.1 INSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL ASPECTS.
It is estimated at the present time that the regulation be it
customary or modern, does not sufficiently take in account the
conservation of the biological diversity even though, on the whole it
already contributes to its conservation. Thus, in the traditional
society, the use of natural resource is submitted to a customary
regulation under the control of a customary chief.
Nowadays, land problem constitutes one of the thorny elements in
the issues of soil management. In spite of the different reforms,
customary practices are part of the daily life of villagers. The
natural resources are placed under the sovereignty of a land custodian
or village chief. In the traditional society land law is imperative at
the level of the customary exploitation and conflict resolution.
a) Access to land in the rural environment
Land is considered a property whose access is reserved to all,
including strangers. However, there are rules of land tenure. The
different types of uses are: permanent use right that is acquired by
inheritance, or after clearing or yet by lineage (or segment of
lineage) and temporary use right that is a loan granted by a permanent
In the traditional environment, land is an inalienable property and
by this fact it cannot be the object of an exchange, of mortgage, of
sale or even less definitive gift. The advantage of the traditional
system is that land is a sacred property and it escapes despoilment.
Its major inconvenience resides in the nature of the system of land
concessions notably the temporary loan, source of permanent insecurity
for the recipient.
b) Traditional right of use of forest and other resources
The traditional African society in general and Burkinabč in
particular distinguishes two types of forests:
- the sacred forests that represent places of cult and are
therefore shielded from all forms of exploitation. They are rarely
more than ten hectares each;
- the bush that represents the non-sacred forest areas whose
exploitation is subject to rules and customs generally under the
authority of land owners or bush chief. It is there that rural and
other various activities take place.
Traditional rights of use include nuances according to the produce
to which they apply.
The Right to exploit trees is exercised by the land custodian
village chief, or the land lineage chief or by the recipient owner
of loaned land. Generally, the land owner sets the rules for the
exploitation of so-called sacred trees (or useful ones) such as
the néré, the shea nut, the baobab, the fig-tree, the kapok
In general, traditional hunting in Burkina Faso is yearly and
collective (beat). In addition, it exists the individual hunt that
is the regular hunter fact.
The management of lakes is also the responsibility of customary
authorities. Permission to fish is given by the customary chief in
the Mosi area, water chief in the Bissa area and no one can fish
without their authorisation. In the Gurunsi area, every village
can have a backwater that it exploits as it pleases the villagers.
Traditionally, there are some accredited fishermen.
The lands traditionally reserved for agricultural activities
raise the issue of breeders' access to pastures, and their uses
are regulated on a consensual and control basis.
The Constitution of Burkina Faso states that all citizens have a
right to a healthy environment, but they also have a duty to protect
resources of the environment (article 101 of the constitution). Thus,
the management of natural resources and the environment in general
falls within the competence of the law that determines the practical
measures on the subject.
The legislation in force on the management of resources concerns
several aspects of its management, from land to irrigated perimeters,
and is complex enough. Indeed, most of the present laws concerning the
environment are still characterised by their partial colonial nature.
As all the old French colonies of the subregion, Burkina Faso
inherited the colonial legislation as regards land, forestry, fauna
and fishing in French West Africa. Although many texts were
subsequently adopted, the colonial legislation still subsists in many
domains. The fact is that all this set of colonial texts organises a
protection with little efficiency of the environment. Elaborated at a
time when conceptions about natural resources protection were still
recent, they are limited in general to a utilitarian approach.
Nowadays, this conception has evolved a lot to consider the
environment as a property that deserves a particular protection, no
more in an immediate perspective but for present and future
Other evils that characterise the environmental legislation up to a
recent date are: multiplicity, inefficiency and often confusion.
- The multiplicity of texts results from the fact that
elaborated in the colonial and post colonial contexts, their
conception was not perceived in a globalised approach of promotion
and protection of the environment. It was an ad hoc legislation,
destined to manage punctual situations. This punctual approach,
consisting in legislating just as the circumstances arose,
inevitably entailed some consequences that hindered the pursuit of
coherent and effective actions;
- Confusion: to the multiplicity of texts is added the
multiplicity of actors on the ground; all things that create
confusion in the sharing of roles and responsibilities linked to
the application of texts;
- The ineffectiveness of this legislation results from the fact
that most of these enforcement texts were disseminated in the
administration, without hold over the realities on the ground.
These texts imprinted with the colonial spirit resolutely opted
for excessive repression of the populations that did not
understand why on their own land they were excluded from the
exploitation of the natural resources (e.g.: case of forest
To mitigate the perverse effects of these situations the
authorities often proceed to the adoption and/or rereading of some
measures. For example, we can mention: the Agrarian and Land
Reorganisation, Forestry Code, Environmental Code, Water Code, Draft
Orientation Texts on Decentralisation, etc.