Gray countries with texture denote areas of future engagement.


Trees, wildlife, and people are all struggling to survive

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Burkina Faso


  • ParcW Camera AWF
  • ParcW Camera AWF
  • ParcW Camera AWF
  • ParcW Camera AWF
  • West African Giraffe John Butler
  • West African Giraffe Etotépé Sogbohossou
  • West African Giraffe Etotépé Sogbohossou
  • Land for Livestock Stefan de Greling
  • Land for Livestock Stefan de Greling

One of the poorest countries in the world is now one of the biggest gold producers.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked country at the geographical heart of West Africa that is made up of grassy savannas, green hills with small trees, and lots of sandstone rock with formations that peak at more than 2,000 feet. Burkina Faso has a tropical climate, including a rainy season that lasts for four months.

Burkina Faso also has some of the most diverse wildlife in West Africa, with more than 650 mammal and 1,407 different plant species. The Volta River basin is home to almost 200 species of aquatic wildlife, as well as Nile crocodile and hippopotamus.  There are four national parks and 12 Wildlife Conservation Units covering the entire country.  Burkina Faso is home to the world’s largest population of roan antelope, though overall population of these African land grazers is in decline.  W National Park, which spans Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso, provides sanctuary for West African Elephants and is one of the last remaining landscapes in which you will find the rare and critically endangered Saharan cheetah.

There are a variety of natural resources found in Burkina Faso, including manganese (used in stainless steel), limestone, marble, pumice, and salt. The country is also Africa’s fourth-largest gold producer. Agriculture makes up 33% of its GDP and employs 80% of the working population. Farmers mostly raise livestock, but also grow crops such as peanuts, rice, cotton, and shea nuts. Burkina Faso’s third-biggest export, shea nuts can be crushed into shea butter, which is popular in cuisine as well as cosmetics and soap.


When 90% of the people depend on trees for fuel, trees don’t stand a chance.

Burkina Faso’s central plateau covers approximately 25% of the country’s land surface. More than 40% of Burkinabès live in this area—even though it is one of the most disadvantaged places to live due to overpopulation and major soil erosion. With 90% of the population engaging in subsistence agriculture, droughts can have a severe negative impact on daily life for both human and livestock populations.  

This adds to the country’s poverty issues. The GDP per capita is $1,200. Because people live in areas where they cannot grow crops to sustain their livelihoods, deforestation is rampant. People rely on wood for trade and fuel. Every year, Burkina Faso loses an estimated 32,000 hectares of forests, which, in turn, impacts wildlife. Already, some species have become extinct due to habitat loss.

Soil and water conservation are important challenges facing Burkina Faso. As the population continues to grow, restoring soil fertility is critical for future crops and livestock. It is also important to provide locals with alternatives to burning wood for their livelihoods through employment opportunities and improved cooking methods. Doing so could prevent deforestation and help save wildlife from extinction.


Priority Landscapes

Will you show Burkina Faso your support?

Read more about our efforts in Burkina Faso, including community training on soil restoration and programs aimed at improving food security.

  • Wildlife Waterholes in Parc W
    Preserving wildlife amidst a drought

    Short rainy season proves disastrous for local fauna. 

    In Regional Parc W, 80% of the more than 30 water points are completely dry by March or April. The regular dry...

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  • Land for Livestock
    Balancing the land needs of farmers, herders, and wildlife

    Livestock is a vital livelihood for people in West Africa. So is farming.

    As competition over land and natural resources grows, pressure on protected areas and...

    Read more
    All Projects

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