Trees for sustainable livelihoods in the Horn of Africa: Studies on aromatic resins and other non-wood forest products in Somalia and Kenya

Badal A Hassan

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Dryland ecosystems support the livelihood of millions of people in the Horn of Africa. However, these ecosystems have been exploited and affected by continuous overgrazing, fire and tree cutting. The general aim of the study was to find ways of improving the adaptive strategy and livelihood of the rural communities, and promoting ecosystem sustainability in the Horn of Africa, using Kenya and Somalia as specific case studies. The theoretical framework of the study was based on the conceptual framework for sustainable development or sustainability. The study examined the non-wood forest products (NWFPs), both for food and non-food commodities, harvested to overcome food insecurity. It paid particular attention to the role of the aromatic resin bearing species of Boswellia and Commiphora in poverty alleviation and climate change adaptation in the region. It also examined the rural communities’ views on the causes, effects and socio-economic impacts of resource degradation. Socio-economic field surveys were conducted in Wajir district of northeastern Kenya and three districts in Somalia, Addado, Buhodle and Galka’ayo. A systematic
literature review was also employed to identify, select and critically review the current information on socio-economic contributions of aromatic resins in the Horn of Africa. Quantitative analyses from surveys, group discussions and key informant consultations were used in processing the data. The research identified several woody species which provide both food and non-food products which supports the livelihood of the rural communities. The results emphasised the potential for using Boswellia and Commiphora species as agroforestry trees, for not only improving the economic conditions of the farmers, but also for increasing land productivity. The study highlighted forest degradation, droughts, building of reservoirs and over-grazing as the main
factors causing land degradation in the study areas. Farmers’ adoption of new agroforestry management techniques in general, and those for Boswellia and Commiphora species in particular, has a distinct role in biodiversity conservation and climate change adaptation in the Horn of Africa. This would also enhance ecosystem sustainability and improve rural livelihood security and thereby facilitate poverty alleviation. Keywords: Acacia-Commiphora woodlands, agro-pastoralists, aromatic resins, Boswellia, climate change adaptation, deforestation, desertification, food security, frankincense, Horn of Africa, Kenya, land-degradation, livelihoods, myrrh, non-wood forest products, non-timber forest products, pastoralists, Somalia.

Author’s address:
Badal Ahmed Hassan,
Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI),
Department of Forest Sciences,
P.O.Box 27 (Latokartanonkaari9), FI-00014
University of Helsinki, Finland.
E-mail: [email protected]
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Forest Sciences, Viikki Tropical Resources Institute (VITRI), Finland
  • Luukkanen, Olavi, Supervisor
  • Glover, Edinam K., Supervisor
  • Jamnadass, Ramni, Supervisor, External person
Award date2 Jul 2020
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Print ISBNs978-951-51-6258-8
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-6259-5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Fields of Science

  • 4112 Forestry

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