Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

Part II
COUNTRY BRIEFS (continued)

SIERRA LEONE (continued)

2.2 Plantations

The same annual targets of 400 ha of industrial plantations and 160 ha of fuelwood stands are supposed to apply (12). The same implementation cum success rate of 50% (13) as for the preceding years is accepted, with half of the industrial plantations consisting of Gmelina arborea, and the other half of Terminalia ivorensis and other broadleaved species. Trials with e.g. Eucalyptus spp. should not have reached the point of estblishment of large-scale plantations before the end of 1985.

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 1Terminalia spp. and others0.500.460.490.600.630.230.042.95
PHH 1Gmelina arborea0.500.500.540.730.770.280.043.36
P..1 = PH.1Total industrial plantations1.000.961.031.331.400.510.086.31

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
P..2 = PHL2Cassia siamea and others0.400.

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

CategorySpeciesYears81–8576–8071–7566–7056–6546–55before 46Total
Age class0–55–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
PHL=PHL1+PHL2Hardwood sp.other than fast-growing0.900.720.550.670.700.250.063.85
PHH = PHH1Fast-growing hardwood species0.500.500.540.730.770.280.043.36
P = PHTotal all plantations1.401.221.091.401.470.530.107.21


  1. Sawyerr, J.S. 1961 “The Development of Plantation Techniques in Sierra Leone with Special Reference to Spacing and Thinning” - Freetown

  2. Sawyerr, J.S. 1962 “The Development and Maintenance of the Forest Resources of Sierra Leone” - Paper for the United Nations Conference on the Application of Science and Technology for the Benefit of the Less Developed Areas - E/CONF.39/C/51 - Freetown

  3. Sawyerr, J.S. 1963 “Ten-Year Plan of Forestry Development for Sierra Leone: 1964/65–1973/74”- Ministry of Natural Resources - Freetown

  4. Sawyerr, J.S. 1965 “The Evolution of Silviculture in Sierra Leone - 1900 to 1960” - Paper for the West African Science Association: 2nd to 7th April 1965 - Freetown

  5. Sawyerr, J.S. 1967 “National Report on Man-made Forests” - World Symposium on Man-made Forest and their Industrial Importance and Eucalyptus Study Tour - Australia - April/May 1967 - Freetown

  6. FAO 1969 “A Forest Reserves Survey” - based on the work of A.E. Minato - Report to the Government of Sierra Leone no. TA 2686 - Rome

  7. FAO 1972 “Forest Inventory of the Gola Forest Reserves” - based on the work of J.A. White - Report to the Government of Sierra Leone no. TA 3155 - Rome

  8. Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 1976 “National Progress Report 1972–1975” - prepared for the fourth session of the African Forestry Commission in Bangui, Central African Republic - 22–27 March 1976 - Freetown

  9. Václav, E. 1978 “Trees of Forest Plantations in Sierra Leone” - Silvaecultura Tropica et Subtropica no. 6 - 1978 - pp. 65–69 - Prague (Czechoslovakia)

  10. FAO 1979 “Vegetation and Land Use in Sierra Leone: a Reconnaissance Survey” - based on the work of O.L.A. Gordon, G. Kater and D.C.Schwaar - Technical Report no. 2-SIL/73/002 - Freetown

  11. FAO 1979 “Bush Fallow in Sierra Leone: an Agricultural Survey” - based on the work of the agronomy section SIL/73/002 - Draft - Freetown

  12. Forestry Division 1979 Letter of Chief Conservator of Forests to FAO Forestry Department in reply to questionnaire for UNE/FAO Tropical Forest Resources Assessment Project - Freetown

  13. Atlanta gmbh. 1979 “Forest Resources Development in Sierra Leone: Tome I and II (Background Information)” - Hamburg

  14. FAO 1980 “Report of the Consultant on Forest Inventory and Forest Resource Appraisal” - draft based on the work of R. Baltaxe - TCP/SIL/8907 - Freetown


Somalia covers an area of 637 539 km2 between latitudes 12°N and 1°40'S and longitudes 41°E and 51°E. Most of the country consists of plains, with a high mountain escarpment in the north, facing the coast. The highest peak in this range reaches 2 400 m. Only two main permanent rivers, the Juba and the Scebelli, water this dry land. Both have their source in the ethiopian highlands, but only the Juba flows into the Indian Ocean, the Scebelli losing itself in swampy terrain.

The climate is hot with a low rainfall, exceeding 500 mm only in the most favourable regions (south). The mean annual temperature varies with the location between 25°C and 28°C. In the north, 45°C can be recorded during hot summer days, while the temperature can drop to just above o°C in the mountain range. Generally, evaporation exceeds precipitation.

The population is estimated to total 3 652 000 inhabitants in 1980, with an annual growing rate of about 2.9% (UN/ESA Population Studies No. 60 - World Population Prospects). More than 80% of the economically active population work in agriculture (FAO Production Year-book Vol. 32-1978).

1. Present situation

1.1 Natural woody vegetation

Somalia is known as a very dry country: more than 25% of its area can be classified as arid desert, but woody vegetation types and to a much lesser extent ‘forests’ exist in some parts.

1.1.1 Description of the vegetation types

The following descriptions are largely based on (2), (3), (4) and (7) and have been incorporated in the standard classification frame of this study.

Closed broadleaved forests (NHC)

There are scattered patches of closed broadleaved forest in the southern region along the rivers Juba and Scebelli and in the related depressions. They are the remains of large tracts of forest which have been cleared for agriculture. These gallery forests, extending over about 100 m at each side of the rivers, are periodically flooded. The main species are Mimusops degan, Acacia stenocarpa, Garcinia ferrandii, Phoenix reclinata, Terminalia bispindosa, Tamarindus indica and Ficus spp. The emerging upper canopy generally attains a height of 10 to 15 m. The lower storeys are relatively dense and many creepers occur. Frequent shrubs are Allophilus rubifolius, Oncoba spinosa and Sterculia rivae. On sandy alluvial soils of the upper valleys and within reach of the sand dunes of the lower Juba, almost pure stands of Hyphaena thebaica can be found. This forest zone is actually threatened by shifting cultivation, since it offers about the best available soils for agriculture.

The Holowajir depression in the extreme south of the country, approximately 160 km southwest of Chisimaio, represents already some characteristics of more humid vegetation types, bearing a high (25–30 m) and, although not continuously, closed forest with a medium storey 10 to 15 m high and a poor undergrowth. Afzelia quanzensis, Cecchia somalensis, Delonix elata and Parkia filicoidea are dominant.

The “dry mountain forests” are a degraded facies of former Juniperus/Olea stands from which these trees have disappeared as a result of overgrazing. The remaining typical species are Buxus hildebrandtii, Cadia purpurea, Euphorbia abyssinica, Dodonea viscosa and Terminalia brownii. These forests exist on moisture brought in by the monsoon winds. They yield poles for light building timber, wood for carving and fuelwood, and are heavily grazed.

A few small areas of mangrove exist, in particular in the estuary of the Juba river and on the coast between the latter and the Kenyan border. Here, trees such as Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops somalensis, Bruguiera gymnorrhiza, Sonneratia alba and Xylocarpus obovatus reach a height of 10 to 15 m in thick clumps. North of Mogadishu, only dispersed mangrove bushes are found with trees 5 to 6 m high. Some pure stands of Avicennia marina may occur. The mangrove forests have been heavily overcut all along the coast. Larger mangrove forests also exist on the Bojun Islands in the Indian Ocean. Some are clearfelled by the local population for export to the Arabian Peninsula, which causes a net reduction of their area since the prominent species do not regenerate.

Open broadleaved forests (NHc/NHO)

A zone of “closed tree savanna” is found southwest of Chisimaio around a depression. Typical species forming the canopy are Diospyros cornii and Afzelia quanzensis. There is little grazing in the area because of the tse-tse fly but large patches of this zone are periodically destroyed by fires set by shepherds in the neighbouring grassy plains.

The “open tree savanna with Terminalia” occurs in areas northwest and north of Mogadishu as well as in the lower Juba river basin. Typical species, nowadays only remaining in scattered patches over extensive areas due to over-exploitation, are Terminalia holstii, T. kelleri, T. somalensis and T. spinosa. Others are Dobora glabra, Acacia seyal, A. nilotica and, especially on red sands, A. spirocarpa. On the red sands and grey soils of this zone shifting cultivation and more permanent forms of dry farming are practised. Charcoal for export and firewood for local use are still produced but to a small extent.

Where Terminalia spp. are not present, Acacia bussei, A. ethaica, A. spirocarpa and A. nilotica prevail in the open tree savanna, which is heavily grazed and damaged by browsing in places where the ground vegetation is not sufficient.

The dune zone, running parallel to the coast, stretches over about 700 km from the Kenya border in the south to the town of Itala. It varies in width from a few hundred metres to several kilometres. The typical tree species is Acacia spirocarpa, which is heavily grazed and felled to supply local communities with firewood. In the neighbourhood of permanent settlements, the dunes have started to shift to a dangerous extent, while they are well stocked in other places where there is no overgrazing.

Coniferous forests (NS)

The northern juniper zone represents a relic of a climax forest of sub-montane type. Located in the high altitude areas of the Golis range (1 600–2 500 m) it is now dominated by dead or near dead trees with a very serious age distribution imbalance. This has been brought about by large-scale uncontrolled felling in the past and severe overgrazing that is still continuing. Associated with Juniperus procera are Olea africana, Sideroxylon buxifolium, Pistacia spp. and all species found in the broadleaved dry mountain forests. These coniferous stands are practically the only source of building timber in the country and they are the least degraded.

Scrub formations (nH)

Scrub formations occupy an extensive area in various zones of different ecological conditions. The shrubs, often thorny, are rarely more than 3 m high. The composition of this xerophilous vegetation is characterized by the predominance of Acacia spp. in the semi-desert zone of the northern coastal plain (Acacia misera, A. socotrana, A. spirocarpa). In the wadis, however, Tamarix nilotica, Ziziphus mauritiana, Z. mucronata, Phoenix reclinata, Leptadenia spartium and Conocarpus lancifolius are frequent, the latter also occurring in the eastern part of the northern region. Small pure stands of Balanites glabra on sandy soils and of Boswellia carteri and B. freeriana on limestone in the east are found. This semi-desertic zone is grazed in December–January during the rainfall period. South of the semi-desert, Commiphora spp. Euphorbia spp., Acacia mellifera, A. orfota, Dichrostachys glomerata, Grewia spp., Albizia anthelmintica and Delonix elata become abundant. The sorub zone is currently undergoing very rapid degeneration, the essential cause being overgrazing, mainly by sheep and goats.

1.1.2 Present situation of the woody vegetation

Present areas

The area estimates as shown in the table underneath are principally based on a brief description of the vegetation zones of the Somali Republic by Gleisberg and the assumed deforestation and degradation patterns indicated in section 2.1. Due to the grazing practices, there are absolutely no virgin forests left (NHCf1uv = 0) and no management plans have been drawn for the natural forest up until now (NHCf1m = 0).

Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
(in thousand ha)

Broadleaved and Coniferous N.f1uvN.f1ucN.f1N.f2N.fN.a 

Only the remnants of the gallery and depression forests, and some of the juniper forests can be considered productive (NHCf1uc/NSf1uc), while degradation due to overgrazing, poor physiognomic and low stocking respectively, render timber exploitation worthless in the dry mountain forests and in the mangrove zone (NHCf2i) 1. There are no areas legally barred from commercial exploitation (NHCf2r = 0) until now, but some control does exist. Shifting cultivation is very rare in the country, since the rural population is principally composed of nomadic herdsmen. Only 50 000 ha of fallow savanna are estimated to exist, south of the Juba river, where the precipitation and periodical flooding permit agricultural activities (NHc/NHOa). The stocking of the “closed tree savanna” still has a commercial value (NHc/NHO1) while the “open tree savanna” and the dune belt only furnish fuelwood and exceptionally building poles (NHc/NHO2). The vegetation, however, is so degraded that 60% of the “open savanna” area as described in (4) bear now only scattered trees and shrubs (nH).

As a whole, approximately 9 million ha have some form of tree cover (NHCf+NSf+ NHc/NHO).


Forest land is state-owned and so is all newly afforested land. There are no privately owned forests in the country (7).

Legal status and management

Certain areas have been gazetted as forest reserves, but even inside those there is a certain amount of settlement and unlimited grazing (7). The provisions governing the utilization of public forests differentiate between forest reserves and unreserved land. In forest reserves, any person or group of persons who held established rights on land or forest produce before reservation can continue to exercise such rights. On unreserved land, any citizen who is not lawfully prohibited from doing so may, without licence, cut and remove trees (other than those on the list of protected species) for the following purposes: use in connection with domestic craft, art, nomadic hut parts, domestic furniture and fittings and agricultural implements for local use; clearing of land for cultivation (after having obtained a permit) and livestock enclosures where head branches are not readily available (9).

No working plans exist for the management of the natural forests. The first proposed national park will cover an area of 334 000 ha in the lower Juba region, but definite legislation still has not been passed (5) (14).

Forest utilization

Log harvesting

Between 1970 and 1974, exploitation for sawn timber was restricted to one juniper forest. Only dead trees (see section 2.1.2) were felled. Logging, transport and roading are planned by and executed under the supervision of the Forest Service, its Utilization Officer being stationed at the only sawmill in Erigavo, the latter now being managed by the prison authorities. Logs are removed from the steep slopes of the escarpment by four-wheel drive tractors, which drag them to the loading sites where they are loaded onto departmental lorries to be transported to the mill (9). The “FAO Yearbook of Forest Products 1978” estimates the production of sawlogs at 28 000 m3 in 1978. The daily capacity of the sawmill is given as 5 m3 (8) (9), but actual production is stated to be 600 m3/year (9). The country's only chipboard factory in Mogadishu has to rely on uncertain supplies of bagasse to maintain a somewhat irregular production (9). So far, there are no other forest industries to be considered economically important.

Other forest products

Charcoal is by far the most important secondary forest product. It is almost exclusively produced from Acacia bussei, which restricts the yield in the savanna areas to less than 1 m3/ha (12). Production in the northern region is largely a subsistence occupation in which the burner markets few bags at a time. In the southern region, however, it is a much larger commercial undertaking. Licences are issued by the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Range for specified zones after an inspection to ascertain that there is enough dead wood to last one licence (500 metric tons) for a year. Dead wood is the only material that can be used legally for the manufacture of charcoal. The total area covered by these contracts is not known since all the wood comes from unreserved land. The selling price of charcoal is fixed by the government. A ban on export has been in effect since 1963. Total production in 1978 was estimated at 43 510 tons (7) (9) (14).

Firewood is also produced in the savanna areas and shrub zones, the sought-after species again being principally Acacia spp. The 1978 FAO Yearbook of Forest Products estimates the total production of fuelwood and charcoal at about 3 450 000 m3 for 1978. It also cites a total production of posts, poles and other industrial roundwood of 34 000 m3, which are mostly used in structural works and building activities.

Frankincence is a valuable commodity tapped from Boswellia carteri and B. freeriana at a rate of about 12 000 tons annually (14). Brushwood, mainly from Dodonea viscosa is used as a cane in local building and bark from numerous species of Acacia is the source of large quantities of fibres. Myrrh, Arabic gum (Acacia senegal), tanstuffs and dyestuffs, honey and, of course, fodder as the most important one, are other secondary products extracted from the natural “forest” vegetation (1).

1 Most of the “forests” classified under this category (closed broadleaved forests unproductive for physical reasons) could as well as be accounted for as unproductive open formations (NHc/NHO2) because of their advanced stage of degradation.

1.1.3 Present situation of the growing stock

Inventories have only been carried out in the juniper forests (10) (11). Very rough data on the broadleaved forests were obtained from (4). The following table summarizes the tentative volume figures.

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

Broadleaved and coniferousN.f1uvN.f1ucN.f2    
     8 73    

The growing stock of the natural riverine forests in the lower Juba valley, which are assumed to have been already logged-over, has been estimated at 100 m3/ha (4). An arbitrary figure of 50 m3/ha has been adopted for the degraded montane forests and the remnants of the mangrove belt. Data on the stocking of the productive “closed tree savannas” (NHc/NHO1) are not available, so the figures calculated for neighbouring Ethiopia have been used, since ecological conditions are rather similar. Mean volumes under bark per hectare for juniper forests range between 13 and 95 m3 (10) (11), depending on the site. An average of 75 m3 (over bark) is thought to correspond to the present situation for the country as a whole. It should, however, be noted that 25 m3/ha of fallen dead, but not decayed, wood, quite suitable as firewood, exist in addition to the volume mentioned above.

1.2 Plantations

1.2.1 Introduction

Before 1953, tree planting was carried out on agricultural farms for ornamental and/or experimental purposes. The following species were used: Casuarina equisetifolia, Ceiba pentandra, Dalbergia sissoo, Entandophragma caudatum, Jacaranda, Salix sp., Swietenia mahogany and Tectona grandis (2). Conocarpus lancifolius was first introduced in the Mogadishu nursery in 1953, and from there widely dispersed as an ornamental garden and park tree. A first small experimental plantation was set up in Batalaleh near Berbera. Its initial growth was very encouraging, but lack of maintenance, funds and staff quickly led to a severe degradation of the stand. In 1971, a programme to clean and extend this plantation was formulated and execution still continues today. Most stands, however, date from 1958/59 (7).

Experimental plots of Eucalyptus camaldulensis in the north were established in the early 60's. Their excellent growth aroused the interest of members of some of the cooperative schemes and assistance is now being given by supplying them with seedlings, the latter being planted along water courses (12). Some past attempts at sand dune stabilization are evidenced by scattered Casuarina equisetifolia trees. Intensive work was started in the beginning of the seventies with Commiphora sp., Casuarina equisetifolia, Opuntia spp., Acacia cyanophylla and Eucalyptus camaldulensis (9) (12).

Irrigated plantation trials of Eucalyptus microtheca, Gmelina arborea, Tectona grandis and Swietenia spp. exist at Jamama in the south, but their total area is not significant.

Many private estates and some state owned farms in the Scebelli agricultural zone have excellent shelterbelts, usually consisting of two staggered rows of Casuarina, and occasionally other species, such as Terminalia spp. (7).

1.2.2 Areas of established plantations

Apart from a few trial plots, no industrial plantations have been established on a commercial scale. The main planting has been at Berbera, where an amenity forest of Conocarpus lancifolius is being extended annually. Another afforestation activity is dune fixation south of Mogadishu. An estimate of the planted areas is given in the following table based, principally, on (14).

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

CategorySpeciesYears76–8071–7566–7061–6551–6041–50before 41 Total
Age class0–56–1011–1516–2021–3031–40> 40
P..2 = PHL2Conocarpus lancifolius,
Casuarina equisetifolia
Other broadleaved species
7.53.3εε0.2  11.0

1.2.3 Plantation characteristics

The present planting method for Conocarpus lancifolius involves digging pits at a 3 m × 3 m spacing through the calcareous pan of the shore, eastwards from Berbera, to the permanent waterlevel underneath, refill the pits with sand, plant naked-root seedlings and water daily or every second day, water being drawn from a number of planting holes which are left open. Mortality of planted trees is very low. Planting is done from September to April. There are no records on yield, but it seems that Conocarpus under these conditions can produce a tree with a short clear bole, 3–4 m high and up to about 15 cm of diameter in about 13–14 years (7).

The measures taken for sand dune fixation include the fencing of the area, the planting of hedges of Commiphora cuttings at 15 m intervals across the prevailing wind and transplantation of Opuntia sp., Casuarina equisetifolia and other species. The natural vegetation then soon invades the thus protected and stabilized dunes (7) (8).

In the irrigated trials at Jonte, measurements were made 8 months after establishment, when Eucalyptus camaldulensis had a height of 3.3 m, Gmelina arborea a height of 2.5 m, and the valuable timber species Tectona grandis, Swietenia macrophylla and S. mahogany were all 1.5 m high. Growth measurements were also made in species trials established at Daloh in the fifties, with Eucalyptus gomphocephala attaining a height of 9.4 m and a DBH of 13.5 cm in 1975, and in small plots on alluvial sites along water courses in the north, where a 15-year old Eucalyptus camaldulensis had a mean height of 26 m, a diameter of 36 cm, and a volume of 1.3 m3. Conocarpus lancifolius, planted at Loyada in 1971, had a height of 9 m and a DBH of 11 cm after 5 years (12).

2. Present trends

2.1 Natural woody vegetation

2.1.1 Deforestation

Forest depletion due to shifting cultivation occurs almost solely in the Juba region. The forests along the river have now largely disappeared on account of this and encroachment seems to continue. A recent development in deforestation is that of illegal enclosures. These have been caused by the deteriorating grazing on the common lands on the one hand and the increased market price of food for export animals on the other. While the enclosures may prove advantageous if properly handled, it is the way they are established that makes them detrimental to the natural vegetation. Since the land to be enclosed must be withdrawn from common use, the individual feels obliged to invest material or at least his own labour to justify the exclusion of others from using the particular piece of land. The easiest and most widely used method of imposing individual ownership is to clear most trees from the land and cultivate small patches here and there, in most cases without any reason to hope for the crop to yield anything. The felling of trees and the patch cultivation, however, serve the individual with presentable evidence for his seriousness at establishing a rain-dependent farm. Since most of the areas which have so far suffered from this practice were unfortunately those with the thinner vegetation cover, the removal of trees and the hazardous cultivation give way to increased erosion. The enclosures have been made without any planning, sometimes blocking usual stock routes and this has come up with a multitude of social problems (7).

The annual destruction rate of closed forests has been estimated in the following table. No significant difference is expected between the periods 1976–80 and 1981–85, since the increasing pressure from the agricultural population will probably be compensated by the government policy regarding the settlement of the nomadic population.

Average annual deforestation
(in thousand ha)

1976–80     and     1981–85 (projections)


The annual destruction of woodland savannas and scrub formations is estimated at respectively 10 000 ha and 40 000 ha, the result being an almost bare semi-desert. Deforestation in the coniferous forests can only be seen as a final degradation stage (see description under section 2.1.2).

Proposals for dams and other irrigation development along the Juba and Scebelli rivers could result in the loss of some 200 000 ha of forest land, but there are no indications that these plans will be carried out on a significant scale before 1985.

2.1.2 Degradation

The main degradation hazard in the country is the excess of livestock with regard to the carrying capacity of the land. Dying of Juniperus trees is probably for the most part the result of severe loss of soil by overgrazing and trampling, especially on the steep slopes from which the top soil has now gone. In some places, for example Daleh East where grazing pressure has been heavy, there are extensive clearings containing dead junipers. The growth form of these dead trees indicates that the process of destruction has been going on for a long time. They are short and heavily branched and must have grown most of their lives in relatively open conditions. In the other closed forests, degradation is caused by extensive gully erosion (7) (9).

The destruction of woodland species which provide valuable browse, shade, timber and fuel is reaching a critical stage. Excessive overbrowsing and indiscriminate lopping of practically all the branches and crowns during drought and famine periods, has resulted in heavy death loss in the woody vegetation (7).

Another factor contributing to the degradation of the woody vegetation cover is the fact that new settlements are mushrooming profusely over many parts of the country. Most of them are not viable and disappear after a short time, leaving behind ruines and devastation (6).

Fire was important in the past. Grass is still being burned to obtain a flush of new growth, but vegetation is now so sparse that fires do not spread far. Nowadays, nearly all areas of the country are arid or semi-arid, at the point of desertification. The soils are degraded due to overgrazing and subsequent soil and water erosion, and rainfall is often uncertain. Precipitation occurs mainly in the form of short and heavy showers with subsequent floods and severe erosion. Periodical harsh droughts are common.

2.1.3 Trends in forest utilization

No change in timber harvesting is envisaged. Felling will remain restricted to dead Juniperus trees, pending a survey of resources to decide on the level of cutting of mature living specimens. No developments are expected in improvement of processing techniques but for greater utilization of residues and timber treatment in the unique sawmill. The export ban on charcoal is not likely to be lifted in the near future.

2.1.4 Areas of growing stock at end 1985

The estimated deforestion rates and degradation patterns lead to the following area figures for 1985.

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

Broadleaved 454514201465ε 
 3737   20   57ε 
Broadleaved and ConiferousN.f1uvN.f1ucN.f1N.f2N.fN.a 

The corresponding standing stock is represented in the next table:

Growing stock estimated at end 1985
(in million m3)

Broadleaved and coniferousN.f1uvN.f1ucN.f1N.f2N.f  
  7   7   72    79  

2.2 Plantations

The rate of plantation establishment of the period 1976–1980 is expected to remain unchanges through 1985. Proposals exist for the planting of shelterbelts on privately owned and state farms and the irrigation of 200 ha for industrial timber growing, but, because of the financial and other constraints, these activities will not be initiated most likely before 1985.

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
P..2 = PHL2Conocarpus lancifolius Casuarina equisetifolia Other broadleaved species7.57.53.3ε0.2ε 18.5


  1. Forestry Division 1957 “Statement by the Forestry Division Somaliland Protectorate” - prepared for the British Commonwealth Forestry Conference 1957 - Hargeìsa

  2. Mooney, H.F. 1959 “Report on the Scope for Forestry in Somalia” - Addis Ababa

  3. Funaioli, U. 1961 “Problèmes de reboisement forestier et de conservation des sols dans les pays d'outre-mer: Somalie” - Firenze (Italy)

  4. FAO 1965 “Report on a Visit to Somalia to Assess the Feasibility of Establishing Training Facilities at Vocational Level” - Rome

  5. Clauser, F. Dell'Oca, s. and Pavan M. 1969 “Foreste, Fauna, Parchi Nazionali e conseguenti sviluppi turistici in Somalia” - Rome

  6. Omar, M.J. 1971 “Development Planning in Somali Forestry” - paper prepared for the FAO/SIDA seminar on forestry development planning and manpower assessment methodology - Mogadishu

  7. FAO 1972 “Report of the Forestry and Wildlife Survey Mission on Somalia” - based on the work of W. Finlayson, G.S. Child and J.J. Van Rensburg - FO:DP/SOM/71/009- Rome

  8. FAO 1974 “Travel Report Somalia” - drafted by J.M. Bryce - Rome

  9. Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Range 1975 “National Progress Report on Forestry 1970/74” - Mogadishu

  10. FAO 1975 “Timber and Forest Resources of Daloh, Cerigaabo District, Somalia” - based on the work of T. Bergström - FO:DP/SOM/72/012 - Hargeisa

  11. FAO 1975 “Forest Resources of Gaan Libah, Somalia” - based on the work of T. Bergström - FO:DP/SOM/72/012 - Hargeisa

  12. FAO 1977 “Strengthening of Forestry and Wildlife Management in Somalia: Project Findings and Recommendations” - FO:DP/SOM/72/012 Terminal Report - Rome

  13. Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Range 1978 “Forestry Activities during 1977” - Mogadishu

  14. Forest Department, National Range Agency 1979 “Some Informations about Forestry in Somalia” - Mogadishu


The Democratic Republic of the Sudan lies almost entirely within the tropics between latitudes 21°55'N and 3°53'N and longitudes 21°54'E and 38°31'E. It is the largest country in Africa (2 505 813 km2). Of this, 29% is usually classified as desert, 19% as semi-desert, 27% as low rainfall savanna, 14% as high rainfall savanna, 10% as flood region (affected by floods and swamps) and less than 1% as true mountain vegetation (6) (14).

Sudan has a range of tropical continental climates with large daily and seasonal differences of temperature. It is principally characterized by a large variation in annual rainfall. The latter amounts to less than 75 mm in the desert, 75 mm to 300 mm in the semi-desert, 300 mm to 1 500 mm in the woodland savannas and over 1 500 mm in the montane vegetation (15). Generally speaking the landscape is a basin-like plain having elevations between 300 to 900 meters. There are a few groups of hills and a mountain range in the south, the Imatong Mountains, rising to over 1 500 m, the Djebel Mara mountain (3 090 m) in Darfur province in the west and in the northeast the Red Sea Hills (over 2 000 m) near the coast. Almost the entire drainage of the country is from south to north through the Blue and White Niles, the Sobat and the Atbara rivers. These supply water for an expanding irrigated agricultural complex and are also the main transport arteries from the forests of the south to the consuming centres of the north (4) (6).

The population is estimated at 21.5 million growing at a rate of 3.2%, the largest proportion of which lives in rural areas and derives its livelihood from agriculture and animal husbandry.

The country receives its principal revenue from agriculture, particularly in irrigated areas, which covered about 1 550 000 ha in 1977 (FAO Production Yearbook, Vol. 32–1978). The principal crops are cotton, cotton linte and sesame seeds, together with some cereals such as wheat and sorghum (15).

1. Present situation

1.1. Natural woody vegetation

1.1.1 Description of the vegetation types

The character of vegetation in the Sudan depends largely on rainfall and soil types. The following classification is principally based on the “Ecological classification of the vegetation of the Sudan” (2), with minor adaptations to the common framework used for this study. There are no clearcut boundaries between the various types. Since the vegetation of the desert, which lies almost entirely in the Northern province with some small areas in Darfur, Kordofan and Kassala provinces, is limited to some xerophytic shrubs (Acacia ehrenbergiana, Capparis decidua and Fagonia cretica) along the water courses, this ecological type has been omitted from the following description.

Closed broadleaved forests (NHC)

The closed forest types are found in the mountain ranges and in the derived woodland savannas. Their only common features are their closed canopy and multi-storeyed structure, which differentiate them from the vegetation of the surrounding areas. Since most of the montane vegetation is predominantly coniferous, the relevant forest types have been described in the relevant section (NS). Although situated in the mountainous areas, the “vegetation of the rocky hills” must be described as a type of open broadleaved forest (NHc/NHO) because of its physiognomy.

- Tropical rain and gallery forests: tropical rain forest is confined to a few small and scattered localities. Talanga, Lotti and Laboni forests are at the base of the Imatong mountains; Azza forest is in Meridi district and there are other small areas on the Aloma Plateau and in the Yambio area. In these forests, four storeys can be distinguished in the vegetation: the canopy trees, which are 30–50 meters high with long, straight trunks, often buttressed at the base; the second-storey trees, from 15 to 30 meters high, usually not so straight, more copiously branched and with less tendency to form buttresses; the shrub layer, 4–6 meters high, often very dense, with numerous creepers and lianes, and the ground layer of herbs and grasses, usually sparse and often absent. The species occurring in rain forest are similar to those of the drier parts of the forests of West Africa. The most common species are Chrysophyllum albidum and Celtis zenkeri, with Holoptelea grandis in Azza forest. A number of valuable timber trees are found, including Khaya grandifoliola, Chlorophora excelsa, Entrandrophragma angolense and others.

Gallery forest may be regarded as a reduced type of rain forest confined to the banks of streams. It is generally found in rather deep U-shaped valleys, and benefits both from the extra water supply of the streams and the protection afforded by the steeply sloping banks against fires. Other important species are Cola cordifolia, Syzygium guineense and, especially in swampy places Mitragyna stipulosa.

- Acacia nilotica forests: these forests occur along the Nile from the Egyptian frontier south as far as Jebelein on the White Nile and Roseires on the Blue Nile. They occur on land which is more or less flooded when the river rises. Acacia nilotica is the dominant species, and occurs over large areas as pure dense stands. In the shallower, less frequently flooded basins along the river Atbara and in some inland sites, they are replaced by Hyphaene thebaica palm forests.

Open broadleaved forests (NHc/NHO)

The woodland savanna region lies in the central and southern parts of the country, with exclusion of the flood region in the southeast. The vegetation is of mixed grass types with bushes and trees, the proportions being dependent on rainfall, soil type, fire frequency and intensity. Rainfall is confined to a few months followed by a long hot dry season.

(a) High rainfall (>900–1 000 mm) woodland savanna

The high rainfall woodland savanna extends into most parts of Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria provinces. The trees are tall and broadleaved, and thorny ones are rare. Coarse tall tussocks of perennial grasses predominate and hence fires are generally fiercer than in the low rainfall woodland savanna. Forest species easily recolonise areas with high rainfall on fire protection. Two types have been described:

(b) Low rainfall (<900–1 000 mm) woodland savanna

It covers most of the central Sudan and areas east of the flood region. In the drier parts, the trees are nearly all thorny and of low stature, with species of Acacia predominating. Broadleaved deciduous trees become predominant in the wetter parts, but there is not as great a variety of species as in the high rainfall woodland savanna, and a proportion of thorn trees is usually present. There are also more annual grasses than perennials and a variable proportion of herbs is always found. The following subdivisions have been distinguished:

Coniferous forests 1

Scrub formations (nH)

a) Scrub types occur in the “semi-desert zone” (the northern half of Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces, the whole of the Khartoum province and about three-quarters of the Kassala province with some parts of Darfur adjoining Kordofan). The rainfall is 75 to 300 mm, confined to July and August, and comes as a few local storms or scattered showers with a variable and unreliable pattern. The vegetation is a varying mixture of grasses and herbs, either without any shrubs or more frequently with widely scattered ones about 2 meters high. The grass is not dense enough to allow fires to burn through it annually. Only three sub-divisions have been classified as bearing woody vegetation:

b) Acacia mellifera thornland: this type occurs on clay in the northern Sudan under rainfalls of between 400 and 600 mm and in the southeastern Sudan under a rainfall range of between 600 and 800 mm. In the latter area, the rainfall instead of being largely concentrated in two or three months in summer is spread out over a longer period. In addition, part of the Toposa area (southeast Equatoria) has been classified as belonging to this vegetation type. Its characteristic tree species is Acacia mellifera, which is found in dense, almost impenetrable thickets separated by areas of open grassland. The Acacia thickets and the grassland appear to alternate in time in a regular cycle. Associated with the Acacia mellifera are Canaba glandulosa, C. rotundifolia and Boscia senegalensis. Acacia seyal is absent, except on water-receiving sites. East of Jebel Dair, there is a peculiar area of low Dalbergia melanoxylon.

c) Acacia senegal savanna; found under rainfalls of between 300 and 450 mm on stabilized sands in Northern Darfur and Northern Kordofan provinces, this shrubby savanna is characterized by the occurrence of Acacia senegal in almost pure stands which may cover large areas. These often follow cultivation and it appears that, at least in part of its range, Acacia senegal may be an essentially secondary species, being the result of recolonization after agricultural activities. To a large extent, these stands are then preserved as they are the source of gum arabic. In the drier parts, the following trees are associated with Acacia senegal: Leptadenia pyrotechnica, Boscia angustifolia, Acacia albida and A. raddiana. In wetter parts Combretum cordofanum and Guiera senegalensis are frequent. In depressions, on the sandy soils into which a little clay has been washed, the baobab tree, Adansonia digitata, is often found, together with Acacia nubica.

d) Combretum cordofanum - Dalbergia - Albizia sericocephala savanna woodland: it occurs on sand in the centre of Darfur and Kordofan provinces under rainfalls of between 450 and 600 mm. The dominant trees, usually of small size (under 5 meters) and non-thorny, are Combretum cordofanum and Guiera senegalensis on the softer sands, Dalbergia melanoxylon on harder sands, Albizia sericocephala and Terminalia brownii on sands with a hard red layer due to iron salts and, towards the south, with more rainfall, Terminalia laxiflora and Sclerocarya birrea. All these rarely attain great size. Acacia senegal is also present, but not in the extensive pure stands to be seen farther north.

1 Only a very small proportion of the vegetation types described in this section are in fact “predominantly coniferous” (NS) although they contain coniferous species.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page