Research and conservation of shea parklands in Africa

while creating local economic value

AAK in partnership to strengthen research on shea

AAK has agreed on a five-year partnership with CNSF – the National Forest Seed Center of Burkina Faso. The partnership will significantly strengthen research on shea and enable a sustainable conservation of the genetic diversity of the shea tree, while making it economically more viable for local communities.

As one of the biggest producers of speciality shea-based solutions globally, AAK is committed to the conservation and restoration of shea parklands, both by actively encouraging and engaging in tree planting as well as by creating economic value for the shea tree and its products. 

“With this partnership, AAK is taking its commitment to create local economic value to the next level, by developing high-yielding and well-adapted seedlings which can be planted out by the local communities we work with in Burkina Faso and other West African countries”, says Karsten Nielsen, AAK’s Chief Technology Officer. 

The partnership furthermore has the aim to strengthen and formalize research on the domestication of shea trees, educate researchers, promote the popularization of research results on shea, and, ultimately, benefit more partners within the area. 

An institution with focus on forest seeds

CNSF operates in the field of research/development of forest genetic resources with a particular focus on forest seeds. The public institution was founded in 1983 as a response to severe droughts in the Sahel Region, aiming to enable drought resilience and climate change adaptation through improving and disseminating native tree species. 

In the first year of the five-year partnership, AAK and CNSF will focus on creating the best working environment to reach the long-term goal of improving research on the shea tree. Therefore, five greenhouses in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso will be upgraded and equipped to become the partners’ joint research facilities. AAK and CNSF will together supply up to 45,000 seedlings that will be part of the research process. 700 grafted and improved trees are expected to be ready for research purposes and distribution to local communities by the end of the first year. 

“This partnership with AAK means two main things”, says Dr. Ouedraogo Moussa, General Director of CNSF. ”Firstly, an increased availability of technical, human and financial capital for shea research. We will be able to scale up and distribute our results much better going forward. Secondly, our research will enable a sustainable conservation of the genetic diversity of the shea tree, while making it economically more viable for local communities. It is a real opportunity for CNSF and AAK to strengthen our know-how and at the same time better contribute to local development.” 

In support of key AAK ambition

The partnership will also make the highest quality of seedlings available for AAK’s journey to plant at least 150,000 trees in the shea belt by 2025. 

”We are currently tracking at a 52 percent achievement of our overall ambition, having planted more than 78,000 trees already”, says Anne Mette Olesen, Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer at AAK. ”We are very excited to embark on this new journey together with CNSF to truly make een better happen within shea.”

Questions about our sustainability work?