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3.11 Country paper: Nigeria


Reality and perspectives
Nigeria Country Paper
Written by
Musa O. Amiebenomo
Federal Department of forestry
Federal Ministry of Environment
Abuja, Nigeria



Reality and perspectives
In collaboration with ICRAF and CIFOR
Nairobi, Kenya, 9-13 December 2002


Nigeria has a population of about 105 million with a growth rate of 2.8 per cent. About 70 per cent occur in the rural areas and are, directly or indirectly, dependent on forest resources.  Forestry contributes about 8 per cent to the GDP of the agricultural sector. Agricultural land covers 71.9 million ha in Nigeria. It is composed of 28.2 million ha arable cropland, 2.5 million ha permanent cropland, 28.3 million ha pasture land, and 10.8 million ha forest land. Following the 1901 forestry proclamation that made it compulsory to plant a tree in place of one tree felled, forest management in Nigeria started with forest reservation, which involved constituting natural forest into reserves and granting concessions to tree takers.  By 1930, about 97,000 ha of the forest reserves were constituted and increased to 9,342,000 ha in 1970. Today 10,762,702 ha forest reserves have been constituted in Nigeria but due to logging, and collection of fuel wood and non-wood forest products, only about 130,446 ha are relatively undisturbed forest (due to inaccessible topography). The Forestry Sector embarked on the establishment of plantations, to provide for the expected wood deficit resulting from the extraction of wood in excess of the allowable cut, and also to support a pulp and paper industry in Nigeria. At present, some 216,072,725 ha of plantations with both exotic and indigenous species have been established, but their quality may be questionable in some sites.

The following types of secondary forest occur in Nigeria:

The productive (primary) and secondary forests provide goods and services of economic, social and environmental significance and benefit such as soil protection, environmental amelioration and protection of water resources.  About 80 per cent of the population depends on fuel wood from the forests. They also provide food, fibres, medicines, dyes and associated economic and social activities to the people living around them. These are not accounted for in the GDP. Currently the secondary forests are managed through conservation, reservation, regeneration and enrichment planting. The high level of poverty in rural areas caused rural communities to depend heavily on the forest resources, with increasing negative impacts on the forests.  There has been lack of commitment from the rural communities to manage natural resources. The short fallow period associated with traditional shifting cultivation does not encourage quick regeneration.  However, there is hope that the forests could be healthily managed if all stakeholders in the forest resources of the country play their parts in the context of sustainable management of the resources. Some recommendations are made to enhance sustainable management of the secondary forests in the country:


The 1901 forest proclamation in Nigeria that stipulated that a tree must be planted in place of any tree removed, was an attempt by the authorities of the time to regulate log exploitation and introduce forest resources management. By and large the necessity to control logging activities to prevent untimely timber deficits became imperative that a forest ordinance to establish forest reserves was put in place in 1908. By 1930, about 97,000 ha of forest reserves had been established and by 1970 forest reserves had increased to 9,342,000 ha.  At present the total area of forest reserves in Nigeria is about 10,762,702 ha (Omoluabi et al., 1991). In the first half of the last century, Nigeria experienced a rapid expansion of logging activities with large forest concessions granted.  During this period, forest management activities consisted largely of concession inspection accompanied by collection of fees and establishment of forest plantations on an experimental basis.  However, much effort went into identifying the means of enhancing growth and regeneration of economic species through a system known as Tropical Shelterwood System (TSS) which entailed cutting the climbers and poisoning of the competing undesirable species.  This was meant to have at least 25 merchantable trees per ha at harvesting.  The system, which was practiced along with enrichment planting, where appropriate, was found faulty and therefore abandoned because it gave room for rapid climber re-growth after the canopy had been opened.

During the last five decades, pressure on forest resources continued to increase, primarily as a result of rapid population growth, unclear tenure systems, reliance on forest resources for rural economy and rural livelihood, and subsistence farming. Essentially, forest resources in Nigeria continue to dwindle due to clearing for extensive agriculture and shifting cultivation, extensive commercial logging and fuel wood gathering to meet the household energy requirements.

All these human activities have remarkably affected Nigeria's primary forests in terms of structure, land area and landforms.  Thus, the current vegetation cover which some scientists, hitherto, believed to be of three major types - tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest and tropical dry woodland - can be broadly delineated into mangrove and freshwater swamp forest, lowland rain forest, derived savanna forest and pure savanna (Guinea, Sudan and Sahel).  As a result of the human activities identified above and, perhaps, the cumulative effects of natural phenomena, almost all the forests have been disturbed and thus reduced to secondary forests.  Some of these secondary forests may look mature to an ordinary eye and considered as primary forests.

Only about 130,446 ha of the forests can be regarded as primary forests in Nigeria (Odu and Dun, 1999; Karim, 1999).  They have not been disturbed because of the difficulty to access them owing to poor terrain. The taungya system became a system of choice as it was seen to be a more effective form of protection.  Mono-cultural direct planting on clear-felled land of heavily degraded post extraction forest is now common.

This paper identifies the types of secondary forests in Nigeria, their extent, characteristics, potentials, management and recommendations for their sustainable management. 


2.1 Socio-economic situation

Nigeria, with a population of about 105 million and a population growth rate of approximately 2.8 per cent (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1992), is an ethnically heterogeneous nation with significant regional variations in cultural, religious, social, literacy structures and language.  This heterogeneous structure is closely related to land and forest resource use in the country.  The high level of poverty of people in the rural communities has amplified the dependence of rural communities on forest resources.

The Nigerian economy has witnessed abrupt changes due to political instability and unstable world oil prices.  Agriculture, with a growth rate of 1.5 per cent, is the dominant sector in the country's economy.  However, mineral oil is the highest single contributor to the GDP.  The privatization policy of the government is gradually eroding the restrictive policies and the extensive involvement of public sector agencies in basically commercial activities, which have been impeding the development of a vigorous private sector in Nigeria. 

2.2 Forestry situation

Nigeria's forests provide significant economic, social and ecological benefits for the citizenry.  The forests play an important role in protecting the soil, ameliorating the environment and protecting the water resources. There are numerous forest products and services not necessarily accounted for in the country's GDP but are very important in the daily lives of the majority of Nigerians.  Perhaps the most important of these products is fuel wood on which about 80 per cent of the country's households depend for the bulk of their domestic energy.  Forestry contributes about 2.5 per cent to the Nation's GDP.  Forests cover about 36 million ha (36.6 per cent of the total land area of Nigeria).  Forest plantations total about 216,072 ha and are made up of Gmelina arborea, Tectona grandis, Eucalyptus spp, Acacia spp, Neem and some indigenous tree species.  Studies have estimated the increment of the rain forests in the forest reserves to be 5 m/ha/annum, 2.5 m of which is potentially commercial, and the maximum allowable cut on a 25 year felling cycle is 30 m/ha or 12 million m per annum. The Federal Department of Forestry is the forestry advisory body and the 37 state-forestry-divisions manage the forests.  The State Divisions of Forestry, which may be domicile in the State Ministries of Agriculture, or under the new development, in the ministries of Environment, are totally autonomous. They are responsible to the State Ministries they belong to in their respective States and not to the Federal Department of Forestry.

2.3 Land use situation

As a result of the increasing poor population and the interactions of the population with the natural environment of Nigeria, the country has been fragmented into many land use components.  The broad land use categories in Nigeria as recorded in 1997 are shown in Table 1.

Table 1:  Broad land use categories in Nigeria (FMAN, 1997)



Area (million ha)

A. Extent

Total area

Land area

Water bodies (rivers, lakes, etc.

Exclusive economic zone





B. Land use

Total agricultural land

Arable cropland

Permanent cropland

Pasture land

Forest and Woodland


Other land









In Nigeria only about 130,449 ha of the forests are in their natural virgin state, in terms of composition and other characteristics (Odu and Dun, 1999; Karim, 1999). Perhaps the natural condition is relatively maintained as a result of their inaccessibility brought about by the topography of the areas where these primary forests occur in the country, making logging difficult and uneconomical for the logging companies.  However, these have been selectively exploited to varying degrees on the periphery for fuel wood, hunting and gathering of non-wood forest products sustaining the rural communities near the forests.  Generally in these areas it is common to get economic trees 60 m to 75 m high with about 60-100 cm girth. The usual layering of trees of the tropical forests occurs throughout the areas.  The average standing volume is about 250 m per ha.  Tree species like Brachystegia, Khaya, Cardia, Milleni, Milicia, Triplochiton and Terminalia are common (NEST, 1991).

There are four major types of secondary forests in Nigeria.  In order of their relative extent, they are post-extraction secondary forest, followed closely by swidden fallow secondary forest, then rehabilitated secondary forest and post-abandonment secondary forest.  Post-fire secondary forest could also be found in some isolated cases and are of limited extent.   However, in terms of economic importance, post fire secondary forest may rank second after post extraction secondary forest.

3.1 Post-extraction secondary forests

After forest reserves had been constituted in the early decades of the last century, large forest concessions were granted to timber dealers (for domestic consumption and overseas markets). The extraction activities became escalated as the population increased and the need to expand and /or establish new wood based industries in the country became obvious.  As a result of this development, the forest reserves were logged at one time or another. In some cases, logging has occurred at least twice. Thus, of about 10,762,702 ha constituted forest reserves, about 254,273 ha of the forests have not been heavily disturbed. In other words, the real post-extraction secondary forests occupy about 10,508,429 ha. These logged-over secondary forests, which especially characterize the lowland rainforest, could be found in a non-contiguous belt from the western to the eastern boundaries of the country, and from the limit of the swamp forests in the coastal area (latitude 4.2N) to latitude 8N.

This type of forest consists of secondary growth of the logged species and the damaged species with a great variety of species, of genera such as Khaya spp, Entandrophragma, Triplocliton, Terminalia, Milicia, Lovao, Lophira and Mansona.  The species are arranged in a complex vertical structure made up of an emergent layer of large trees (up to 60 m tall, when mature) with isolated crowns, a canopy layer of trees with touching crowns, an understorey of trees with spreading crowns, followed by shrubs and ground vegetation.  Large numbers of woody climbers (lianas) binding many of the trees together, the abundance of epiphytes, and flowering and fruiting on the tree trunks are features which make the secondary forest type look like an original natural forest. When mature and if left undisturbed, this forest type has the tendency of growing to the status of a primary forest although slightly disturbed.  Where the forest is heavily disturbed or logged over several times, the soil may be open to erosion with weeds and shrubs with isolated, scattered trees taking over and reducing the vegetation to a forest-derived savanna. In this case, the forests may not be able to attain the status of a primary forest even if they are left for decades.  The post-extraction secondary forests in Nigeria are still the sources of timber, producing about 90 per cent of timber in country.  These forests are found on generally undulating terrain with scattered inselbergs. Slopes are generally gentle and the soils are predominantly deep with gravel sub-soil, well drained and formed dominantly from a basement complex of metamorphic rocks characterized by variations in form, size and mineral composition (FDLR, 1995).

3.2 Swidden fallow secondary forests

This type of secondary forest is found basically outside the forest reserves.  As a result of population pressure the original forestlands were cleared for agriculture (principally for arable cropping) in the form of shifting cultivation.  Swidden fallow secondary forests could be found between 7N and 8.5N in the western part and the extreme eastern part of the country. They are between 8N and 5N around 7E and 8.50E where they exhibit their largest presence in the southern part of the troughs of rivers Benue and Niger.  In terms of land area, they cover about 7,570,700 ha (about 8 per cent of the country).  This type of secondary forest is dotted by the oil palm Daniella olivera, Vitex doniama, Ficus sur, Lophira lanceolata, Cola spp. Milicia excelsa. The dominant grasses are Andropogon tectorum and Loudetia arundinanceae.  Closed canopies are not easily found.  There are a lot of pests and plant diseases that farmers have to contend with in these areas. 

The vegetation is left for a while to regenerate naturally. Initially regeneration is slow because of the depleted soil nutrients and little litter to hold and release the nutrients. By and large the litter level increases and growth rate becomes enhanced.   Trees are usually of medium size, all of which are kept to enrich the soil for future cultivation of arable crops.  The growing population has an insatiable demand for land for agriculture, and this reduced the fallow period to 3-5 years. The vegetation changes rapidly over short distances, such that low forests, fairly dense woodlots, and thickets alternate with open woodland. This mosaic formed as a result of the varying ages of the fallow lands.  This type of forest is found on the same type of terrain and soil formation as in the case of post-extraction secondary forests.

3.3 Rehabilitated secondary forests

These forests are the hitherto wantonly degraded forests through uncontrolled human activities - timber felling, fuel wood gathering, mining, oil exploitation, excavation and natural phenomena in the arid zone - like desertification processes.  They are being rehabilitated through various management methods, which will be discussed later.  Unlike the post-extraction secondary forest, rehabilitated secondary forest may not be a continuous large stretch of vegetation in Nigeria.  Perhaps the conditions and the ways they originated could describe it.  Following the African Convention for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 1968 and followed by its ratification in 1974, a total of 793 ha was designated strict nature reserves and 2,368,400 ha national parks. These areas rehabilitated naturally and their regeneration is enhanced by protection.  In the arid zone of the country, desertification is a phenomenon causing environmental degradation and loss of savanna vegetation in about 15 per cent (14,000,000 ha) of the total land area of Nigeria at the rate of about 1,500 ha per year.  However, this is not a linear front movement but occurs in patches which expand in various directions and at considerable varying rates.  About 68,617 ha of the lands were directly rehabilitated through tree planting to protect and rehabilitate 895,153 ha of desertified land (FORMECU, 1997).

3.4 Post-fire secondary forests

Secondary forests developing after fire are relatively insignificant in size in Nigeria.  Forest fires happen occasionally, on a relatively small scale and purely isolated.  It is more frequent in the savanna zone. The vegetation has developed some resistance to fire and recovers soon after the rains have started. Records of the total extent of secondary forests resulting from forest fires are not available. However, some forest-fire incidences covering about 13,674 ha, and destroying about 2629.3 ha of forest were reported (Kio and Nnaobi, 1993; FORMECU, 1997) (Table 2).

Where forest fires affected the natural forests, the forests are left to regenerate. The rate of regeneration depends on the severity of the fire and the type of primary forest affected. In lowland rain forest areas, full regeneration could be achieved in 3 - 4 years. However, in the savanna areas, because forest fires are usually severe and extensive, the vegetation does not recover very soon, resulting in weeds taking over the empty spaces for a long time until the trees can form canopies to suppress the weeds.   In most cases no cultivation goes on in the post-fire secondary forests in order to allow regeneration. Where cultivation sparingly goes on, the economic trees in the forest are preserved and the forest is guarded against future fire incidence.

Table 2: Post fire secondary forest, as at 1998 (Kio and Nnaobi, 1993; *FORMECU, 1997)


Total area affected

Total area destroyed
































3.5 Post-abandonment secondary forests

These secondary forests developed where the hitherto cultivated lands or other land uses like grazing, have been abandoned.  In Nigeria they are also found mostly in the lowland rain forest areas and the guinea savanna areas, especially where extensive agriculture took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but have since been abandoned. However, patches of such secondary forests are seen in all ecological zones.  They were abandoned, not because the users wanted them to fallow, but the users thought the lands were no more productive for whatever they used the lands for. Unlike the swidden fallow secondary forests, the forest regenerated by conserving and preserving them and no level of cultivation or other activities go on there. These are essentially non-contiguous non-extensive forest settings. The estimated aggregate size is about 42,268 ha.  Although the forests are regenerating, they have not attained their former status since abandoned. The dominant trees are between 7 m and 9 m high, and 12-25 cm in girth in the abandoned lowland rain forest zone. In the savanna zone, the average height of the dominant trees is lower than 6 m. Thus, the appearance of the forests that fall in this category of secondary forest varies according to the original vegetation and the causes. The forest type is typically a source of fruits, fuel wood and herbal products for the neighbouring communities. They are still devoid of merchantable economic trees.

4. Socio-economic and ecological importance of secondary forests

All secondary forest types are used basically and essentially by the communities around the forests for their daily needs and income.  Secondary forests in Nigeria, especially the post-extraction secondary forests, are managed by government (state and local governments) for plantation development for timber and pulp wood production. Illegal exploiters and harvesters of the forest resources from outside the communities, come from around the forests within the State, and from other States. At times they come also to acquire forestland for agricultural purposes because of the relatively high land fertility of the post-extraction secondary forests.  These forests are still the best habitat for wildlife, and animals are hunted in the forests.  Perhaps this is the only forest type that has formal use patterns since they fall into the first recognized protected areas in Nigeria which were established principally for the purpose of meeting the country's wood demand in a sustainable manner. The use patterns vary with ecological zones.  The secondary forests considered in this report are of great economic value to Nigeria, contributing about 3.0 per cent to the country's GDP.  There is a long list of forest products and some services that are not accounted for in the GDP calculation. These products, apart from being sources of revenue for the government, are sources of income and food for the local communities around the forests. Sale of fuel wood, leaves, bush meat, etc. yields enormous incomes, ranging from N500 to N10,000 per day. The swidden fallow secondary forests are mainly used by individuals for NTFP collection, especially honey, fuel wood, poles and for shifting cultivation of arable crops.   Secondary forests in the savanna zones are used for animal grazing.  Rehabilitated secondary forests are managed by the government, essentially as National Parks and Game Reserves, Zoological Gardens, Nature Reserves for Scientific Research.   They are strictly used and individuals enter the forest with special permission.  Geometric International (1998) estimated the total volume of merchantable wood in all the secondary forests in Nigeria to be around 473.6 million m.  In addition some other important products are produced (Table 3).

Table 3: Some important items produced in a secondary forest of Nigeria (FMAN, `97)


Approximate production level

Arable crops

Wood from merchantable trees


Cash crops

Gum Arabic

Fuel wood

Shea Butter


60 million metric ton

473 million m

110 million

1530 million metric ton

60 million metric ton

93 million m

4500 metric ton

170 metric ton

About 94 per cent of Nigerians are engaged in crop production, 68 per cent in livestock production, 2 per cent in fishing and 1 per cent in forestry (FMAN, 1993/1994). All secondary forests in Nigeria, but especially those in the arid north, help to ameliorate the climate, stabilize the soil, replenish soil nutrients, preserve watercourses, check erosion, and provide grazing. However there are amenable problems and potentials of the secondary forests in Nigeria. Some of the problems are associated with the following issues:


With the exception of swidden fallow secondary forests which, normally, are in what is known as 'free areas' in Nigeria, secondary forests are consciously managed by government, private individuals, wood-based firms, communities and NGOs.  Perhaps the involvement of the private sector in forest management in Nigeria is as a result of an environmental awareness campaign. Forestry Departments in Nigeria have been witnessing very low and untimely release of government allocation, a characteristic that has been plaguing the sector for some two decades.

However, forestland ownership plays an important part in who manages which forest.  For example, while the government manages forest reserves with a limited collaboration with the communities around such forests, some private individuals acquire land and put up plantations.  This is the way timber firms also operate, apart from paying for replanting where they carry out logging.  Some NGOs like Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and Man and the Biosphere (MAB), have been involved in conservation programmes in Nigeria.  Many communities in the savanna zone and those in places like Cross River and Bayelsa States of Nigeria are involved in the management of secondary forests. Financially, some foreign donors like the World Bank, African Development Bank, DFID, JICA and UNDP have helped in forest management and plantation establishment in the country.


The identified secondary forests in Nigeria are managed in relation to the expected uses of the products.  The management systems being practiced for post-extraction secondary forests could be identified as consolidation of the existing reserves of about 10,752,762 ha distributed all over the country (Omoluabi et al, 1991).  This involves resurveying, mapping and boundary maintenance, and fire tracing. Management of this forest also involves natural regeneration and environmental planting.  Regeneration could be carried out artificially by using the collaborative effort of the farmers using some level of taungya system or direct plantation establishment by the Department of Forestry.  Areas that are poorly stocked and could take very long to naturally regenerate are usually developed into plantations. Plantation establishment, which is now commonly used to salvage the secondary forest, especially the post-extraction secondary forests, started at the turn of the last century in the south western part of the country using indigenous species.

The taungya system, still in use now, came into use for Gmelina plantation establishment since 1920 and mechanized afforestation was introduced to the northern savanna areas for raising plantations of species like Tectona grandis, Eucalyptus and Pinus species. Rotation periods for plantations vary for fuel wood, pulpwood, and for low-tension poles: 8 years is common while 15 years is normal for high-tension poles.  The rotations for saw-log plantations are 15 years for Gmelina, 20 years for pine and Triplochiton species and about 30 years for Teak.  Government, private firms and individuals have established about 218,920 ha of plantations to complement wood supply to the local industries.  Out of the 218,920 ha, 1,280 ha belong to the private sector (Ogundare, 1994). Monitoring, controlled exploitation, scheduling felling cycles and yield regulation is also carried out in this forest type. About 4,992 ha of forests are under a conscious natural regeneration system in the arid zone. This entails cutting out and fencing of areas that could be regenerated naturally. This protects the vegetation from being tampered with by herdsmen, fuel wood collectors, herbalists and harvesters of other non-wood forest products.  This method is also applied to rehabilitate the secondary forests of the National Parks, Games Reserves, Botanical Gardens and Nature Reserves.

However, instead of fencing, the boundaries are well marked and cleared for ease of monitoring and to prevent fires. Usually buffer zones of sizeable area are retained around the parks.  Rehabilitation secondary forests are managed by some enrichment planting and conservation. This could be seen in areas where mining of mineral resources have been carried out like in the Plateau area and the areas where on-shore oil exploration has been done in the south. Post-fire secondary forests occur usually in plantations of Teak.  These are left to regenerate on their own. Some silvicultural work is carried out after about a year. There seems to be no management effort for the abandoned secondary forest.  They occur in marginal areas, perhaps because the soils have been totally impoverished by human activities and/or natural phenomena. Natural regeneration takes place but this may not be satisfactory.

There are local land use plans with forest management systems as an integral part.  The issue of integrated land use systems is being discussed and seriously addressed in the proposed forest policy in Nigeria. This takes into consideration the involvement of all land users and stakeholders in all the sectors of the National economy, so that policies may not conflict.

However, in order to integrate tree planting into agriculture under agro-forestry systems, a Unified Extension Division (later hampered by lack of suitable manpower) was established in the Agricultural Development Programme of every State of the Federation to provide extension services to the rural farmers on the importance and how to raise forest tree/tree crops and agricultural crops together under the same management system. Currently, the failure notwithstanding, there are two programmes, which aim to make agro-forestry an integral part of agricultural development programmes in Nigeria - the National Special Programme for Food Security (UTF programme, under the FAO/FGN collaboration) in Nigeria and the Tree Crop Nursery Development whereby seedlings will be made available to farmers to plant on their farms.  Also the Approved Forestry Development programme has many components, which do not only emphasize agro-forestry, but also takes care of the environment and also resolve the incessant conflict between cattle owners, foresters and farmers. Urban forestry is now taking care of the lands degraded through urbanization by planting up the affected cities like Abuja.

In the area of erosion control, there has been some collaborative efforts between the departments that are primarily responsible for erosion control in the country and local communities.

An adequate management of the Nigerian secondary forests requires a multi-disciplinary and integrated scientific approach because of the following characteristics of the most important secondary forests.  Most of the trees in the secondary forests are deciduous in three layers.  The dominant trees are on average 40 m high. Species composition is very complex, reflecting the composition of the primary forests from which they originate. Because the canopy is not as close as before, the forest becomes a habitat for many insects and pests. Among these could be termites of the genera, Coptotermes and termites, a beetle (Phorocanths semipunctala) on Eucalyptus, a moth (Thaumeto poea pityocampa) on Pines, scale insect of neem, and fungal attacks by species of Fusarium, Phytophytora and Pythium,.  Phytolama and stem borers attack Melicia excelsa and the saplings of the secondary forest species.  Regeneration and stocking are not easily met because the flowering and fruiting of the economic tree species in the secondary forest are minimal, with some irregular fruiting (3-4 year intervals). Over-grazing could occur, but fire incidence is not common in this forest type, but causes huge economic losses when it occurs.  Although most of the Nigerian secondary forests in all the ecological zones have potentials of getting to maturity to provide goods and services as they used to do if a holistic approach to management could be put in place, there are some problem issues to be critically addressed if sustainable management of the secondary forests is be achieved.  These are:


Customary tenure, whereby lands were considered as community property, remained the principal form of landholding throughout Nigeria until the early 1970s. But as individuals and business firms began to invest heavily in real estate, especially in the newly urbanized areas during the same period, land prices began to escalate.  In response to a potential crisis in land distribution, the Nigerian government established an Act to formulate a uniform land reform policy.  As a result of this all lands were nationalized in 1978, making all rural and urban lands to be in the hands of the State with state governors having authority over urban lands and local "Land Allocation Advisory Committees" controlling rural lands. Rural land, although inherited on the basis of customary rights and held according to customary land tenure practices, is claimed on the basis of occupancy, which replaces any previous form of title.  However, the administration of the Act has proven complicated and many transactions were unreported and undocumented.

Perhaps one of the sectors in which the transfer of ownership to the government has some impact is in the forestry sector.  Forest resources are held in trust by government for the community making the taking of resources from the forest without obtaining a prescribed permit a punishable offence.  Even a landowner has no right to the economic trees on his land.  A permit is needed to fell such trees. The major disadvantage of this is that it does not encourage private individuals to plant trees on their farms since they have to bear another cost of obtaining a permit to harvest the trees they raise.  Also land acquisition for plantation establishment is cumbersome and very discouraging.  In some States of the Federation, forest resources are controlled by the Local Governments but the resources are managed by the State Governments.  Thus, there is no clear method of distributing the revenue from the forest resources.  In all the cases, except in the Cross River State of Nigeria, communities around the forests are not involved in the management of the forests. There are potentials for improvement and for better conditions for the private sector to participate in forestry developments as the proposed forest policy reform will address critically the issues that hinder the sustainable management of the secondary forests.  The major constraints here are the time needed to educate stakeholders in forestry, the acquisition of legal backing for policy formulation for sustainable forest resources management in Nigeria.


The Nigerian secondary forests, especially the post-extraction secondary forests, are managed by the State forestry services who may not have adequate resources (funds, manpower and materials) to effect sustainable management of the forests especially when the only option is plantation establishment. Unfortunately the Federal Department of Forestry too does not get adequate budgetary allocations to disburse to the States for forest management activities.


From the foregoing, the high level of poverty in the rural areas has made the rural communities to depend heavily on the forest resources of Nigeria. With the increasing population, this dependence would continue resulting in more serious negative impact on the forests, unless employments are created for the rural populace.  There has been lack of natural resources management commitment on the part of the rural community.  The high level of tree felling for timber, fuel wood and charcoal is also a factor that threatens the existence of healthy forests in Nigeria.  It is also inferable that the traditional shifting cultivation with shortened fallow periods may not encourage quick regeneration. 

The apparently bad situation of the secondary forests in Nigeria not-with-standing, there is the hope that the forests could be healthily managed if all stakeholders in the forest resources of the country play their parts in the context of sustainable management of the resources.

Having highlighted the essential current situations of the secondary forest types in Nigeria, the following recommendations are proposed for consideration:


1. Beak & Geometric International. 1998. Assessment of vegetation and land use changes in Nigeria. FORMECU Publication No. 96.

2. FDLR, 1995. Landuse pattern in Nigeria. Federal Department of Land Resources, Nigeria.

3. Federal Republic of Nigeria 1992. Nigeria's parameters. National Population Commission/Federal Office of Statistics

4. FMAN, 1997.  Nigerian Agricultural Statistics. Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria.

5. FORMECU 1997. Nigeria's World Bank Assisted Forestry II: Project Impact Assessment.

6. Karim S.A. 1999. Community participation in forest reserve management in Omo Forest Reserve of Ogun State.

7. Kio, P.R.O. & Nnaobi, C.H. 1993.  An economic analysis of the effects of forest fires: A case study of plantation losses in the 1982/3 dry season in southern Nigeria.

8. NEST 1991. Nigeria's Threatened Environment: A National Profile.

9. Odu, D. & Dun, R. 1999. Community forest development in Cross River State of Nigeria. FORMECU publication No. 85.

10. Ogundare, L.G. 1994. Establishment of private forest plantations in Nigeria.

11. Omoluabi, A.C., Ogundare, L.G. & Martins, C.M. 1991. Plantation development in Nigeria. FORMECU publication No. 14.

14 A tribe in northern Nigeria.

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