As in many other African countries, wood is the most important source of energy for the rural and urban populations of Togo. Traditional attitudes towards trees and prohibitive laws explain why trees are not planted "spontaneously" by local communities even though they are facing serious woodfuel shortage problems.
Promotion of tree planting has recently been taken up by government agencies and foreign funded projects. Most of them try to get local communities to plant trees, but their efforts are not always very successful. The reasons are manyfold:
- the lack of tradition where tree planting is concerned;
- the lack of familiarity with the proposed tree species;
- the "delayed reward" when trees have been planted;
- the absence of a fuelwood problem, according to the local population ; - the location of the newly planted trees: near the house? at the roadside ? round the field ? - the social organization of the community, and the traditional land tenure system; - the lack of certainty about the ultimate rights to the tree and the possibilities to cut it; - absence of protection of the stands by a lack of motivation of the planter; - in some instances: the price of the plants; - the persons who are asked to plant the trees are not necessarily those that will have to cut them and use the fuelwood.
Recently, it has become clear that the key to successful refo- restation lies within the local communities. Small scale approaches may well be the long term solution to the problem of fuelwood and energy supply, and involving women in the project interventions a further step in a more integrated approach. As it is, the recent "social forestry" approach might well be the long expected solution. To meet the objective of having people plant trees, however, it will be necessary to establish a good extension service which not only starts initiatives but also assures a thorough follow up once the planting has started.
The problems that have to be overcome - or bypassed - remain difficult, but recent experience has nevertheless given some insight in how to solve them!
KEYWORDS: woodfuel, Togo, reforestation, integrated development