Forest Connect in Burkina Faso

Reducing poverty by linking small and medium forest enterprises with national forest programmes, markets and service providers

Forest Connect is a four-year programme (2007 – 2010) financed by the FAO aimed at strengthening small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) by linking them to national forest programmes, markets and service providers. The Forest Connect programme is being implemented 11 countries – Burkina Faso, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, India, Lao PDR, Mali, Mozambique, and Nepal. Forest Connect Burkina Faso implemented by Tree Aid focuses on the non-timber forest products sector, and aims particularly at increasing the understanding of the sector through a comprehensive diagnostics study and increasing the visibility of SMFEs and their level of organisation and connectedness so that they can better access markets and service providers and have a voice in national forestry policies that affect their livelihoods.

The main non-timber forest value chains in Burkina Faso include shea (shea nuts and shea butter), dawa dawa (pods and seeds to make a spice called “soumbala”), tamarind (fruit and leaves), baobab (fruit pulp and leaves), Arabic gum and honey.

The Forest Connect Project

Small and medium forest enterprises (SMFEs) are critical to the poor. They generate local wealth, help to secure local resources and environmental accountability, promote local creativity and help to preserve indigenous cultures and market niches. But while the number of SMFEs starting up in least developed countries is high, keeping them going sustainably is a major challenge. They face problems such as too much bureaucracy, unstable policies and regulations, insecure land rights, lack of bargaining power, insufficient business knowledge and difficulties accessing credit, market information and technology.

Many SMFEs work together in associations to reduce transaction costs, adapt to new market opportunities and shape the policy environment in their favour. But in many developing countries, support structures for such forest associations either do not exist or fail to reach those who need help most.


  • The central aim of this project is to connect SMFEs to:National forest programmes (empowering SMFEs to be heard by policy makers);
  • Emerging markets (by supporting existing SMFE associations) and;
  • Service providers (strengthening their capacity to provide training and finance).

Project outputs

The development of functional and stable information services and support networks for SMFEs in ten countries – testing and adapting models for connecting SMFEs to national forest programmes, markets and service providers.

The development of an information ‘toolkit’ based on practical experience that guides national forest programmes on how to set up an SMFE information service / support network to support the economic, social and environmental sustainability of SMFEs.

Testing, applying and revising the toolkit in partner countries and national forest programme facility countries to maximise the worldwide potential of such information services and support networks for SMFEs.

The Forest Connect project in Burkina Faso is being implemented by Tree Aid with financing from the FAO. In its first year the project focused on undertaking a diagnostic study of SMFEs in the non-timber forest product sector in order to increase the understanding of and the visibility of the SMFEs in Burkina Faso. To download the results of the diagnostic study go to the section “SMFEs in Burkina”.

For more information visit:

FAO Forest Connect Website

IIED Forest Connection Website

Forest Connection International Networking Site

Small and Medium Forest Enterprises in Burkina Faso

Diagnostic Study on Small and Medium Forest Enterprises in Burkina Faso, May 2008

The diagnostic study undertaken by Tree Aid in 2008 examines the current status of small and medium forest enterprises in Burkina Faso and proposes a typology to characterise them. Based on a survey of 169 SMFEs and SMFE associations the study analyses the policies that affect SMFE performance, how SMFEs are able to access financing and markets and the links between different groups of SMFEs to form associations.