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Part II
COUNTRY BRIEFS (continued)

NIGERIA (continued)

The following table which is derived from documents (29) and (32) given an idea of the species used and their relative importance.

S p e c i e sPercentages of volume harvested
Latin nameCommercial nameInput to 130 sawmills 1
Terminalia superbaLimba14.4   10   
Mitragyna ciliataAbura-Bahia9.4   
Triplochiton scleroxylonObeche-Samba8.77364  30.8
Nauclea diderrichiiBilinga6.2   
Chlorophora spp.Iroko6.03425.1
Khaya spp., Entandrophragma spp.Mahoganies5.6    6.7
Lovoa trichilioides
Antiaris spp.Ako4.7 3  9.7
Guarea spp.Bosse4.5   
Piptadeniastrum africanumDabema3.7   
Afzelia spp.Doussie3.4   
Alstonia spp.Emien3.0   
Celtis spp.Ohia-Diania3.0   
Terminalia ivorensisFramire2.8   
Ceiba pentandraFromager1.8   
Pycnanthus angolensisIlomba1.6   
Pterygota spp.Koto1.67   9.9
Nesogordonia papaveriferaKotibe1.6   
Daniellia spp.Faro1.5 5 
Brachystegia spp.Naga1.4   
Cordia platythyrsaCordia15.1  6  
Mansonia altissimaBete6  
Sterculia spp.Eyong/Lotofa 4 
Holoptelea grandisKekele 3  6.0
Other species 5711.8

The above table shows that logging remains locally fairly selective since 5 to 7 species represent more than 85% of the total volume harvested. However at the country level there is a higher diversification than in the forest countries of Central Africa (Cameroon, C.A.R., Congo, Gabon). This can be explained partly by the reduction of the forest which forces loggers to extract more logs from the remaining ones.

Depletion of unreserved forests has resulted in the concentration of logging activities within the forest reserves. (19) indicates that for the former state of western Nigeria the areas outside forest reserves accounted for 52% of the total timber volume output in 1960 and that this percentage was reduced to 16% five years later. Comparison of statistics of logged over areas in forest reserves in (21) and (50) and of production estimates shows that for the whole country the log output of the unreserved forests in the period 1971–75 may have been only 30% of the total. This percentage should continue to decrease.

Other forest products

Total annual production of fuelwood and charcoal is estimated in the FAO Yearbooks of Forest Products at 80 million m3 corresponding roughly to 1 m3 per person per year. Other industrial roundwood (poles, posts, etc…) is estimated in the same document at 2 million m3.

Minor forest products are many. If one excludes kernels and oil from the oil palm, cocoa, rubber from Funtumia elastica and tung oil from Alsurites montana, these two latter introduced by the Forest Department, which are generally recorded as agricultural crops (2) (24), the most important vegetal products are: gum arabic, from Acacia senegal (exports in 1960 = 4 855 tons (2)), tanning extracts from Acacia nilotica (3 500 tons in 1970 of Bagaruwa pod), shea nuts, kapok, raphia, rattan cane, thatching leaves and dye stuffs (24).

1.1.3 Present situation of the growing stock

Two major forest inventory operations were carried out in Nigeria in the last fifteen years: one in Cross River state (Calabar Province), over 400 000 ha of reserved forest (Uwet-Odot, Ekinta, and Oban group) in 1965–67 (15) and the other at national level carried out in the years 1973 to 1977 by the Federal Department of Forestry with the assistance of the UNDP/FAO Forestry Project and which covered 1 156 000 ha of reserved forest (“indicative inventory of reserved high forest in Southern Nigeria”) (50). Growing stock estimates have been derived from the compilation of these two inventories, and of the area estimates given in section 1.1.2.

Growing stock estimated at end 1980
(totals in million m3)

NHC f1uvNHC f1ucNHC f2NHc/NHO 1

The Calabar inventory provides gross volume estimates (DBH >15cm) for undisturbed forests on dry land (NHCf1uv). The indicative inventory report provides gross and net volumes more than 40 and 60cm DBH and their ratio to gross volume more than 10 cm (VOB) can be derived from Lowe's estimates (20). Gross volume of unproductive closed forests (NHCf2) is determined from the estimates given by the Calabar inventory for the swamp and Raphia forests and using 30 m3/ha as average gross volume DBH 10 > cm (VOB) for mangrove forests. As already mentioned in section 1.1.2, the average volume of logs extracted from the productive closed forests is considered to be 35 m3/ha (VAC).

(13) gives an interesting set of volume estimates for various types of woodlands which have led to the adoption of 20 and 0.5 m3/ha as gross volume DBH>10 cm (VOB) and actually commercialized volume (VAC) for productive woodlands (NHc/NHO1).

The same document and documents (2) and (4) provide basal area and/or volume increment estimates in natural forests and woodlands; (2) gives 0.14 m3/ha year as net increment figures for merchantable species in untreated and treated (with T.S.S.) closed forests of western Nigeria. The following figures for the woodlands are extracted from (13):

Afaka station:Isoberlinia doka - Monotes kerstingii stands: 0.43 m3/ha/year over 50 years (71 plots of 0.3 ha each);
Anara station:Isoberlinia doka dominant: 0.59 m3/ha/year over 70 years (3 plots of 0.2 ha each);
Isoberlinia doka dominant: 21 years after coppicing 0.53 m3/ha/year (early or late burnt annually) and 1.33 m3/ha/year (fire protected);
Terminalia avicennioides dominant: 21 years after coppicing 0.53 m3/ha/year (early burnt every fourth year, otherwise protected) and 0.80 m3/ha/year (alternately early burnt and fire protected);
Isoberlinia doka dominant: 0.87 m3/ha/year over 70 years early burnt or alternately early burnt and fire protected during the last 21 years and 0.19 m3/ha/year over 70 years late burnt during the last 21 years.

The mean annual increment appears to be between 0.35 and 1.05 m3/ha/year (with a maximum of 1.33 m3 for 21 year old fire-protected coppice) in the northern Guinea zone.

Burning treatmentsm3/ha/year
Fire protected0.921.09
Annually early burnt0.711.19
Alternately early burnt and fire-protected1.041.15
Early burnt every fourth year otherwise fire-protected1.381.67
Late burnt annually0.530.81

1.2 Plantations

1.2.1 Introduction 1

The first plantations were made in the early years of the century in the southwest of the country, near Ibadan, Ijebu - Ode and Lagos. Teak, Cassia siamea, Casuarina equisetifolia and Delenix regia were planted for firewood and mahoganies, teak, Chlorophora excelsa, Afzelia africana, Cedrela odorata, Nauclea diderrichii (opepe) for timber. The early plantations included also fruit trees like Cerea rubber (Manihot glaziovi) and medicinal trees. The total area planted in 1940 was approximately 1 000 ha in southern Nigeria, teak and opepe being the main species planted on a large scale until that year, either pure or in mixtures with Meliaceae (Khaya ivorensis and Lovoa trichilicides mainly). During the second world war much of the teak planted in the forest stations of Olokomedji and Gambari was clearfelled or “thinned” in an unsilvicultural manner to meet the needs of the military forces and after the war, such areas were generally converted to a coppice system for the production of fuel and poles (3). In the northern states species trials were followed by plantations on a limited scale mostly for fuelwood and poles of species such as Albizia lebbek, neem (Azadirachta indica), Cassia siamea, Dalbergia sissco, Gmelina arborea and Tectona grandis. Neem was and has remained till now the most important plantation species in northern Nigeria.

While plantation forestry always prevailed in northern Nigeria because of the local conditions - slow growth, inadequate natural regeneration and poor form of savanna trees - interest in plantations appeared to vane in the south in the 40' and 50's when the Tropical Shelterwood System for the improvement of natural forests was in vogue because of the savings in cost. In 1950 recorded planted area in Nigeria totalled 7 000 ha, of which 4 800 ha in the south, and these figures raised to 18 200 ha and 10 000 ha respectively (all these figures must be reduced to account for losses and clearfelling of old plantations). Plantations of Gmelina arborea, which is now the most important planted species with 38% of the total area planted, started on a large scale during that period in Anambra State for the supply of mining timber.

In the early 60's the former Western state greatly increased its annual planting area mostly with teak or teak mixed with species such as Gmelina arborea and Terminalia spp.. The planting programme also increased in Bendel State where the main species were Gmelina arborea, Nauclea diderrichii (mixed with Meliaceae and Terminalia spp.) and pure teak. In Cross River state the first major plantings were carried out in the early 60's but were interrupted in the second part of the decade because of the civil war. Also in the late 50's and early 60's new species were introduced in the northern states especially eucalypts, and pines to a lesser extent.

A number of factors has contributed to the increase of large scale planting illustrated by the tables of the following sections, which are (14):

During the last decade planting for other purposes than wood production has been started on a larger scale. Kano state included in its 1971–74 development plan the establishment of 1 000 ha of Acacia nilotica for the supply of tannin while Northeastern state has also planned demonstration plantations of Acacia senegal for the supply of gum arabic (17). Following recognition of the need for adequate protection and conservation in various areas e.g. fight against desert encroachment in the arid north, reclamation of mines land in the Plateau state, control of erosion and food in the eastern areas of the country, several planting programmes have been initiated such as reclamation and plantation with eucalypts of 1 320 ha of desolate landscape mounds in the Bauchi state and plantation of shelterbelts (10 million seedlings raised in 1977 for shelterbelt planting) (44). At end 1977 the total area of shelterbelts was estimated at 2 500 ha (1 050 ha in Kano state, 750 ha in Sokoto state, 570 ha in Kaduna state, 100 ha in Borno state and 30 ha in Banki state) (48).

Although practically all plantations are state owned, there is a trend towards the plantation of small woodlots by private individuals for production of firewood and even timber. Farm trees are being raised and distributed by the state forestry divisions. Reports mention up to 1 million trees being distributed a year in some states, but there is no estimation of success (48).

A large part of plantation establishment in southern Nigeria has been carried out through the traditional taungya system and a modified one called “departmental taungya”. In 1975 more than 24 000 farmers worked nearly 20 000 ha of farms in forest reserves on the traditional system while departmental taungya was carried out on nearly 1 500 ha and gave employment to more than 1 200 workers (42).

1 The following is extracted mostly from documents (12) (14) and (42).

1.2.2 Areas of established plantations

Distinction is made below, as for other countries, between industrial plantations, the purpose of which being mainly or partly the production of wood for wood processing industries, and the non-industrial (or other) plantations. Almost all the former are concentrated in the southern states for the production of sawloge and veneer logs (teak, opepe, Terminalia spp., and other indigenous species mainly) and of pulpwood (most of Gmelina plantations), to which must be added a few thousand hectares of Gmelina and pine plantations in the northern states. The non-industrial plantations are almost exclusively concentrated in the northern states and produce fuelwood, poles, other products such as tannins and gum arabic, and serve also for conservation purposes.

Industrial plantations

The main information source has been the excellent compilation made in document (42) for the southern states up to 1976. Figures have been updated at end 1980 taking into account the programme targets indicated in this and other documents for the 1976–80 period and correcting them by a factor to take into account the rate of implementation of the programmes. All these figures have been multiplied subsequently by a common factor of 0.8 adopted as a ratio between successfully established plantations (with sufficient stocking) and recorded area statistics, to allow for losses and blanks.

Areas of established industrial plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears76–8071–7566–7061–6551–6041–50before 41Total
Age class0–56–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHL 1Nauclea diderrichii  3.4
 Tectona grandis19.ε41.5
 Terminalia spp.1  3.8
 Miscellaneous 2  5.2
 Subtotal PHL 131.423.812.8
PHH 1Gmelina arborea31.618.ε62.5
PH.1Subtotal hardwood plantations63.042.518.6  10.9  
PS.1Pinus spp. 3  2.0  0.2εεε    2.2
P..1Total industrial plantations65.042.718.6  10.9  

1 Terminalia ivorensis (mainly) and T. superba
2 Mostly: indigenous species such as Meliaceae (Entandrophragma cylindricum, Khaya ivorensis, Lovoa trichilicides), Triplochiton scleroxylon, and one exotic, Cedrela odorata. Khaya senegalensis has also been planted in the northern savanna zone.
3 Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis, P. occarpa, P. kesiya, Gupressus lusitanica has also been planted on a small scale.

Other plantations

One main reference document is the report (48) which reviews the situation as at end 1977 for the arid zone of Nigeria where most of these plantations have been raised. Areas have also been estimated by difference from the recorded plantations at any date for the whole of Nigeria and those of southern states. The forest ones have been extracted from documents (2), (5), (9), (14), (16), (17) and (18). Rates of achievements of programme targets have been derived from documents (16) and (18). Distribution among species as given in the table below is very tentative as no overall assessment seems to have been carried out as is the case for the southern states in document (42). Broad indications given in documents (6), (28) and (38) and areas mentioned in the FAO questionnaire on eucalypt plantations have been used for the breakdown by species. Those estimates have been further multiplied by a factor of 0.7 for losses and failures in plantation establishment. Shelterbelts (estimated at 2 500 ha at end 1977) and an unknown part of private and village woodlots are not included in these estimates.

Areas of established non-industrial plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears76–8071–7566–7061–6551–6041–50before 41Total
Age class0–56–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHL 2Acacia spp.ε 2.0
 Azadirachta indica1.ε8.2
 Subtotal PHLε12.6  
PHH 2Eucalyptus spp.ε4.4
P..2 = PH.2Total non-industrial plantations4.ε17.0  

1 Acacia albida, A. nilotica and A. senegal

2 Mainly Cassia siamea and Dalbergia sissoo

3 Mainly Eucalyptus grandis and E. grandis (hybrid), E. camaldulensis, E. cloeziana, E. microtheca, E. tereticornis, E. torelliana and to a lesser extent E. citriodora, E. deglupta, E. propinqua, E. robusta and E. saligna

All plantations

The grouping of the two above tables results in the following table:

Areas of established plantations estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears76–8071–7566–7061–6551–6041–50before 41Total
Age class0–56–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHLHardwood species other than fast-growing34.327.415.
PHHFast-growing hardwood species32.719.ε66.9
PHSubtotal hardwood species67.047.221.712.
PSSoftwood species  2.0  0.2εεε     2.2
PTotal plantations69.047.421.712.

1.2.3 Plantation characteristics

As already mentioned a considerable body of information on plantations has been built up over the years in the field of growth and yield. These data have permitted in particular the elaboration of yield tables and growth models for the most important species. These and many other mensuration data are regrouped in annex 1, pages 380 to 385.

2. Present trends

2.1 Natural woody vegetation

2.1.1 Deforestation

The formidable pressure exerted by the agricultural population on the high forest in the southern part of the country has been responsible for the widespread clearing of unreserved forest on dry land, first in the former eastern Nigeria (with the exception of what is now the Cross River state) and later on in the former Western and Mid-Western states. The forest reserves constitute the “hard core” of the nigerian high forests on dry land and are encroached principally for industrial plantations.

The excellent reference assessment provided by the NIRAD project establishing the situation at end 1976 cannot unfortunately be compared with a similar evaluation depicting the situation at an earlier date. The estimation of depletion rates of closed forests can only be made by comparison of the NIRAD results with prior rough estimates, such as the indication given in (7) mentioning a total area of 7 050 000 ha of unreserved forest in 1965. If this figure is compared to 1976 areas of unreserved closed forests (with the exception of mangroves) the corresponding annual depletion rate equals 260 000 ha in unreserved forests. Of this area a small part (say 20 000 ha) corresponds to unproductive forest (swamps and the Raphia stands) while the bulk of it corresponds to productive forests (NHCf1). Given the very reduced unreserved productive forest area left in 1980, it is not thought that depletion rate of unreserved forests will increase significantly from the late seventies to the early eighties. Most of the relic areas will be in the form of forest patches on hills and ridges surrounded by derived savanna in the plains and of tracts of edaphic types (swamp forests, Raphia stands and mangroves).

The reserved closed forests are cleared partly to give room to industrial plantations (about 15 000 ha per year during the period 1976–80 and 25 000 ha per year during the period 1981–85). To the successfully planted areas some 10 000 ha of additional clearings are added (illegal encroachment by farmers, other planned land uses, unsuccessful plantations).

Average annual deforestation
(in thousand ha)


 1976–80  1981–85
Forest Reservesε  25  25ε  25 ε  40  40ε  40
Outside F.R.ε24024020260 ε24024020260
Totalε26526520285 ε28028020300

Depletion of woodlands (NHc/NHO) is even more difficult to estimate. A land-use change investigation, carried out over 6 test zones in the Sudan and Sahel regions covering a total area of nearly 3 000 km2, is reported in (45). The annual rate of clearing of the natural vegetation was estimated between 0.6% and 1.5% from the comparison of 1976 Landsat imagery and maps of the years 1950, 1958/59 or 1962. Taking 1% as the average annual clearing rate this corresponds to 92 000 ha of woodland deforested every year (rounded off to 100 000 ha).

The bulk of it takes place in areas outside forest reserves, i.e. unproductive woodlands (NHc/NHO2). The same deforestation rates have been adopted for the period 1981–85 assuming a compensation between the increase of agricultural population and the decrease of the share of the total land area occupied by this type of vegetation.

2.1.2 Degradation

All types of woodlands and shrublands are subject to a more or less severe degradation caused mainly by annual fires, overexploitation for fuelwood and charcoal and overgrazing. The impact of fires on volume increment is well illustrated by the experiments reported in section 1.1.3. The considerable amounts of fuelwood collected in the northern region exceeds the level of sustained yield of woody vegetation particularly in the neighbourhood of villages and cities. Fuelwood and pole plantations have been created but these are still far too insufficient and they provide only a tiny fraction of the wood requirements. The total cattle population of northern Nigeria was estimated in 1965 at 10.3 million heads (7) and this figure would be now of the order of 10.9 million (94% of the total of 11.6 million for the whole of Nigeria given by the 1978 FAO Production Yearbook). This corresponds to 6.4 ha per head of total land area, which, taking into account the amount of land unsuitable for grazing represent a very heavy pressure on the mixed tree and grassland formations. Wind is also a cause of degradation in the arid and sandy areas of the most northern part of the country and shelterbelts are being planted to check air currents and prevent wind erosion (14). 400 000 ha were said to be devoted to establishment of shelterbelts in the period 1976–77 (44).

2.1.3 Trends in forest utilization

The total log output from the natural forest should not change significantly despite the likely increase in output per ha, because of the rapid exhaustion of unreserved forests. Around 200 000 m3 of utility grade sawlogs and 1 million m3 of pulpwood are expected to come from the existing plantations during the period 1981–85 (42), which means that by 1985 the output of wood for industry from man-made forests would be reaching that coming from the natural forests. Production of fuelwood and poles may not follow the population growth rate as local shortages in the northern region may bring a reduction in consumption per capita of these products.

2.1.4 Areas and growing stock at end 1985

The indications given in the previous sections, used in combination with the area and volume estimates at end 1980, lead to the estimates at end 1985 presented below.

Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)

Forest Reserves1201 0601 180   2401 420  4501 300  2001 500  200  5 600
Outside F.R.ε  390  3902 6403 0308 550 6 8006 8005 10031 200
Total1201 4501 5702 8804 4509 0001 3007 0008 3005 30036 800

Growing stock estimated at end 1985
(in million m3)


1 Output par ha has been increased to 40 m3 to take into account the larger number of species and qualities used brought by a reduction of the productive forest areas.

2.2 Plantations

Projection of plantation work in the southern states for the next 5-year period is based on the target and breakdown by species indicated in (42), corrected by an overall rate of successful implementation of the programmes estimated at 0,67 (ratio estimate of areas of industrial plantations successfully established during the 6-year period 1975–80 to the overall target of 107 600 ha for the same period (14)). For the northern states a similar reasoning has been accepted with a slightly smaller overall rate to take into account less favourable site and climatic conditions in the savanna zones. The resulting estimates are provided in the three following tables.

Industrial plantations

Areas of established industrial plantations estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears81–8576–8071–7566–7056–6546–55before 46Total
Age class0–55–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHL 1Nauclea diderrichii3.
 Tectona grandis3.019.0   13.0
 Terminalia spp.50.0
 Subtotal PHL 169.0  31.4   23.8  12.8  
PHH1Gmelina arborea40.0  31.6  18.7ε102.5  
 Eucalyptus spp.15.0ε      5.0
 Subtotal PHH145.0  31.6  18.7ε107.5  
PH.1Subtotal hardwood species114.0    63.0  42.5  18.6  14.4  4.01.6258.1  
PS.1Pinus spp.10.0  2.00.2εεε 12.2
P..1Total industrial plantations124.0   65.0  42.7  18.6  14.4  4.01.6270.3  

1 Eucalyptus deglupta is proposed for inclusion in the pulpwood scheme (42).

Other plantations (excluding shelterbelts and a part of small woodlots)

Areas of established non-industrial plantations estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears81–8576–8071–7566–7056–6546–55before 46Total
Age class0–55–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHL 2Acacia spp., Azadirachta indica and miscellaneous3.
PHH 2Eucalyptus spp.ε  5.9
P..2 = PH.2Total non-industrial plantations5.

All plantations

Areas of established plantations estimated at end 1985
(in thousand ha)

CategorySpeciesYears81–8576–8071–7566–7056–6546–55before 46Total
Age class0–55–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHLHardwood species other than fast-growing72.534.327.415.
PHHFast-growing hardwood species46.532.719.8  6.7  6.61.1ε113.4
PHSubtotal hardwood species119.0
PSSubtotal softwood species10.0  2.0  0.2εεε   12.2
PTotal all plantations129.0  69.047.421.717.95.32.0292.3

Various trends other than those illustrated by the above tables and already discernible will probably be reinforced such as:


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  36. FAO 1976 “Vegetation Map of Borgu Game Reserve” - A report prepared for the Kainji Lake Research Project by G. Geerling - FI: DP/NIR/66/524/14 - Rome

  37. FAO 1976 “Savanna Forestry Research Station - Project Findings and Recommendations” - FO: DP/NIR/73/007 - Technical Report - Rome

  38. FAO 1977 “Handbook of Plantation Establishment Techniques in the Nigerian Savanna” - by T.G. Allan - DP:NIR/73/077 - Rome

  39. FAO 1977 “An Investigation of Yield and Profitability of Teak Plantations in South West Nigeria” - by G.J.B. Renes - NIR/71/546 - Working Paper 13 - Ibadan

  40. Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria 1977 “Annual Report 1976–77” - Ibadan

  41. Oseni, A.M. 1977 “Forest Plantation Planning at National Level”-in “Savanna Afforestation in Africa” - FAO Forestry Paper no 11 - Rome

  42. FAO 1978 “Plantations” - based on the work of J.B. Ball FO: NIR/71/546 - Technical Report 3 - Ibadan

  43. FAO 1978 “High Forest Development - Report on Logging Operations” - based on the work of C. Lepitre - FO: NIR/71/546 - Project Working Document 16 - Rome

  44. Federal Department of Forestry 1978 “National Progress Report on Forestry for the Federation of Nigeria - Period 1976–1977” - African Forestry Commission - Fifth Session - Accra, 24–28 April 1978 - Lagos

  45. Hunting Technical Services Limited 1978 “Technical Report to the Federal Government of Nigeria, Federal Department of Forestry, Remote Sensing - April 1978” - Borehamwood (U.K.)

  46. Hunting Technical Services Limited 1978 “NIRAD Project Interpretation Phase - Final Report, Volume 1” - Borehamwood (U.K.)

  47. FAO 1979 "Forestry Development - Nigeria - Project Findings and Recommendations - FO: DP/NIR/71/546 - Terminal Report - Rome

  48. FAO 1979 “Arid Zone Afforestation - Nigeria - A Review of Forestry Development in Arid Zone of Nigeria” by G.A. Booth - FO: NIR/75/053 - Rome

  49. Allen, P.E.T. 1980 “Area Measurements from NIRAD Vegetation Maps” - Letter and enclosures to FAO Headquarters - Ibadan

  50. FAO 1980 “The Indicative Inventory of Reserved High Forest in Southern Nigeria - 1973–1977” - by H. Sutter - FO: NIR/71/546 - Project Working Document No. 18 - Rome

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