Citizen’s perceptions of ecosystem services in managed space on road interchanges in Abidjan Côte d’Ivoire

Urban green infrastructure is closely related to human wellbeing and biodiversity in urban areas and plays an important part in urban ecology. The Autoroute du Nord in Abidjan is an example of green infrastructure. It has many road interchanges for facilitation of urban transportation. During the building of these road interchanges, many spaces with 0.2 to 1.5 ha were managed with trees woody. This study assessed some ecosystem services related to the presence of plants in 10 of these road interchanges containing a total of 28 blocks, covering an area of 18 hectares in three municipalities: Yopougon, Adjamé and Cocody. 132 visitors were interviewed about reasons for their presence in these areas. Also, we surveyed their perceptions about the presence of trees and services related in these spaces. Results show that 83.3% of visitors are male. The majority of respondents (62%) have secondary academic level. In Adjamé municipality, those with elementary academic level (75%) work in the informal sector. Among them, 50% attend these spaces every day. In Cocody and Yopougon municipalities, 60% of visitors have secondary academic level and students. They attend these spaces at least three times by week. Only provisioning and cultural services such as food provisioning, raw materials, medicinal plants, esthetic and recreation are more accessible and well known by citizens. Main reasons for visits are the rest (40% of visitors) and appointment (20% of visitors). Others reasons vary according to municipalities. In Adjamé, blocks are used for workplace (35% of visitors). In Yopougon, these spaces are used for religious rite (18% of visitors) and study (17% of visitors). In Cocody, visitors aspire to the freshness of these woodlands. Reasons of presence vary also according to academic level. Those with elementary level exercise activities in these spaces. Those with secondary academic level prefer esthetic value and use them also to study. From 50 to 75% of these visitors know uses of plant species in African pharmacopoeia. Other uses are: fodder, firewood, construction, food, and timber. However 91% don’t know tree species names present in these areas. The best known species are: Orgueil de Chine (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), Flamboyant (Delonix regia), Teak (Tectona grandis), Mango (Mangifera indica) and Terminalia catappa locally called "Cocoman". Responses about proposals species for enrichment of these areas vary according to municipalities. Users (40%) in Adjamé want more species providing shade they enjoy to work. In Yopougon visitors (38%) prefer eating fruit species. Few visitors wished enrichment with ornamental species. If all users find these spaces very important, they also highlight problems associated with plant species: dirty condition (48.8% of responses), attraction of mosquitoes, insects and birds (39, 8% of responses), falling branches and destruction of roads (11.7% of responses). This study shows that spaces arranged at road interchanges in Abidjan city are ecosystems where plants, animals and citizens find shelter and resources for their development. These areas respond to social, economic and environmental challenges. But some non-market services such as climate regulation, water purification, carbon sequestration, and flood control are unknown by citizens, this can constitute a threat for these spaces.

Autoroute du Nord, green infrastructure, transportation, ecosystem service, Côte d’Ivoire