A map of plant species diversity in Burkina Faso is presented based on field observations and specimen data from the Ouagadougou University Herbarium (OUA) and the Herbarium Senckenbergianum (FR). A map of collecting intensity and field observations illustrates centres of botanical research activities in Burkina Faso. To overcome problems associated with biased sampling intensity, distributions of species have been modelled and extrapolated to maps of vascular plant diversity, life forms and diversity of four selected families (Poaceae, Cyperaceae, Dioscoreaceae and Rubiaceae). The area of most intensive collection and observation is around Gorom-Gorom and Fada N’Gourma. Modelled diversity generally increases towards the south, as does the proportion of phanerophytes, lianas and hemicryptophytes, while the opposite trend is observed for therophytes. Poaceae diversity is highly correlated with total vascular plant diversity, making the family especially suitable as an indicator for overall plant diversity. Cyperaceae are rather evenly distributed throughout the country, Dioscoreaceae are restricted to the Sudanian Zone. Rubiaceae have their highest diversities in the very south.
Our approach can be transferred to areas with a similar database, certainly to other areas within West Africa. Future research should focus on distribution data for rare species, enabling our approach to evaluate the West African system of protected areas.