Assessment and impact of anthropogenic disturbances in protected areas of northern Togo
These days, human activities in the savanna and the remaining dry and riparian forests of the Sudanian ecoregions continue to have their impact. These anthropogenic practices are still the main cause of disturbances in these areas. In order to investigate and assess the importance of these disturbances, caused by people bordering on protected areas and to determine the relation between these activities and the environment in which they are carried out, 220 samples were selected in the three main protected areas of northern Togo. The investigation was mainly qualitative, considering the floristic sampling of this drought area; any anthropogenic activities observed were recorded. A simple investigative questionnaire about the activities of rural people in the reserved areas was distributed to individuals encountered in the study area. Each sample in the investigation ended with a site description of its ecological characterization, i.e., soil features, topography, fauna footprints, dominant plant species and GPS position; we also took photographs of the site. Data processing was entirely based on descriptive statistics and a factor analysis. The results show that eight kinds of human activities, i.e., the use of pastures, tree cutting, bush fires, charcoal production, harvesting of plant material, farming, honey harvesting and hunting, were noted to be serious disturbances to the integrity of the ecosystems. Among these disturbances, three are recurrent in all the sampled areas of which the use of pastures accounts for 31.88%, tree cutting for 30.35% and bush fires for 30.13%. Fire and pasture disturbances are closely linked and are responsible for the current features of the savanna area of the region. Tree cutting is more a direct function of the need for the production of wood fuel, generally used by city populations. Hunting, farming and honey production are of lesser importance in the area and therefore, do not pose a significantly negative effect on the growth of fauna and flora. Knowledge of these disturbances in the context of requalification and a renewed demarcation of protected areas in Togo is essential for their sustainable management.