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Part I

Chapter III

1. PRESENT SITUATION (continued)

TABLE 1a - Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
Closed broadleaved forests (NHC)
(in thousand ha)

unmanagedmanagedtotalphysical reasonslegal reasonstotal
undisturbed logged  
NHCf1uvNHCf1ucNHCf1mNHCf1NHCf2iNHCf2rNHCf2total% (region)NHCa
 Chad500  500  ε5000.23ε
 Gambia 5 560 60650.03ε
 Mali   ε  εεεε
 Niger   ε  εεεε
 Senegal14  14143632062200.10ε
 Upper Volta   ε  εε ε
NORTHERN SAVANNA REGION51450519203632667850.36ε
 Benin1433 47   470.027
 Ghana 15411671321 39739717180.806500
 Guinea1150300 1450600ε60020500.961600
 Guinea-Bissau35570 425235 2356600.31170
 Ivory Coast200309413295515648116344582.088400
 Liberia905425 1330670 67020000.935500
 Nigeria3802590 29702980 298059502.787750
 Sierra Leone 219 219521 5217400.343860
 Togo47206 25351 513040.14250
WEST AFRICA30517091116811310557210456617179278.3634037
 Angola 2450 2450450 45029001.354850
 Cameroon70009940 16940980 980179208.364900
 Central African Republic3120350 3470120 12035901.67300
 Congo103303360 1369075201307650213409.951100
 Equatorial Guinea785230 1015280 28012950.611165
 Gabon106559250 19905595 595205009.561500
 Zaire79740380 801201984056902553010565049.287800
CENTRAL AFRICA1116302596001375902978558203560517319580.7821615
 Burundiε6 6ε88140.0114
 Ethiopia450100 5502200 220027501.28300
 Madagascar16005070 667027009303630103004.803500
 Malawiε40 40ε1461461860.09ε
 Mozambique70380 450460254859350.43500
 Rwanda 56 563411451010.0525
 Somalia 50 501430 143014800.69ε
 Sudan 29050340300 3006400.30600
 Tanzania250580 83020041061014400.67100
 Zimbabwe    200 2002000.09ε
EAST AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR298587975451232780792090101692249610.505979
 Botswana      ε  ε
 TROPICAL AFRICA11818041853171316174643639901852657214403100.0061631

The following table gives a countrywise distribution of African mangroves. Three main areas can be distinguished: western tip of the coast of the Gulf of Guinea (Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone) with a total of some 900 000 ha, the interior part of the Gulf of Guinea (Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon) with 1.4 million ha approximately, and the mangroves of the Indian Ocean (Mozambique, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania) which cover 900 000 ha.

Mangrove areas (1980)

(in thousand ha)

Senegal169Equatorial Guinea  20
Gambia  60Gabon140
Guinea260Zaire  50
Sierra Leone170Mozambique455
Liberia (20)Madagascar300
Ivory CoastεTanzania  96
GhanaεKenya  45
TogoεSomalia  (20)
Cameroon272Tropical Africa3 402 

The above estimates of mangrove areas are approximate for some countries, especially for those where they are not extensive for which the corresponding figure has been put between brackets or indicated with an “ε”. In some cases it is difficult to know whether the area mentioned is the actual extent of mangrove stands or of the geographical zone including the mangroves.

Table 1b : Areas of coniferous forests

Total area covered is very small compared to that of America. A large majority (70%) is found in Ethiopia. Kenya has established national parks (Mount Kenya) to protect part of its coniferous forests which are the most important in Africa second to Ethiopia.

Table 1c : Areas of bamboo forests

The total area is also very small and productive stands correspond to only 63%, almost all of them in Ethiopia. Some bamboo stands in Senegal and Mali have not been accounted for in this table.

Table 1d : Areas of closed forests

This table summarizes the results of the three preceding ones and shows up the important forest wealth of Zaire which contains almost 50% of African closed forests and the considerable weight of central Africa (80% of closed forest areas).

TABLE 1b - Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
Coniferous forests (NS)
(in thousand ha)

unmanagedmanagedtotal     Fallows
undisturbedlogged  physical reasonslegal reasonstotalNSf 
NSf1uvNSf1ucNSf1mNSf1NSf2iNSf2rNSf2total% (region)NSa
 Ethiopia200200 400400 400  80071.43ε
 Kenya  70  5020140 110110  25022.3215
 Somalia   40   40  20   20    60  5.36ε
 Sudan     5     5    5     5    10  0.89 
EAST AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR270295205854251105351120100.0015
 TROPICAL AFRICA270295205854251105351120100.0015

TABLE 1c - Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
Bamboo forests (NHB)
(in thousand ha)

undisturbedlogged  physical reasonslegal reasonstotalNHBfFallows
NHBf1uvNHBf1ucNHBf1mNHBf1NHBf2iNHBf2rNHBf2total% (region)NHBa
 Zaire      90  10100100    9.00ε
CENTRAL AFRICA      90  10100100    9.00ε
 Burundiε   ε      4    8 12   12    1.08ε
 Ethiopia 700 700100 100  800  72.01ε
 Kenya     165165  165  14.85ε
 Rwandaε   ε    ε  14   5 19   19    1.71ε
 Uganda  2    2  13 13   15    1.35ε
EAST AFRICA AND MADAGASCARε70027021181913091011  91.00ε
 TROPICAL AFRICAε70027022082014091111100.00ε

TABLE 1d - Areas of natural woody vegetation estimated at end 1980
Closed broadleaved, coniferous and bamboo forests (N.f)
(in thousand ha)

unmanagedmanagedtotalphysical reasonslegal reasonstotalN.f
undisturbed logged        
N.f1uvN.f1ucN.f1mN.f1N.f2iN.f2rN.f2total% (region)% (country)
 Chad500  500   5000.230.39
 Gambia 5 560 60650.036.25
 Mali   ε  εεε     ε     
 Niger   ε  εεε     ε     
 Senegal14  14143632062200.101.12
 Upper Volta   ε  εεε     ε     
NORTHERN SAVANNA REGION51450519203632667850.360.19
 Benin1433 47   470.020.42
 Ghana 15411671321 39739717180.797.20
 Guinea1150300 1450600ε60020500.958.34
 Guinea-Bissau35570 425235 2356600.3018.27
 Ivory Coast200309413295515648116344582.0613.82
 Liberia905425 1330670 67020000.9217.96
 Nigeria3802590 29702980 298059502.766.44
 Sierra Leone 219 219521 5217400.3410.09
 Togo47206 25351 513040.145.34
WEST AFRICA30517091116811310557210456617179278.288.45
 Angolaε2450 2450450 45029001.342.33
 Cameroon70009940 16940980 980179208.2737.69
 Central African Republic3120350 3470120 12035901.665.76
 Congo103303360 1369075201307650213409.8662.40
 Equatorial Guinea785230 1015280 28012950.6046.17
 Gabon106559250 19905595 595205009.4776.53
 Zaire79740380 801201993057002563010575048.7945.06
CENTRAL AFRICA1116302596001375902987558303570517329579.9932.51
 Burundiε6 641620260.010.93
 Ethiopia6501000 16502700 270043502.013.56
 Madagascar16005070 667027009303630103004.7517.55
 Malawiε40 40ε1461461860.091.57
 Mozambique70380 450460254859350.431.19
 Rwanda 56 564816641200.064.56
 Somalia 90 901450 145015400.712.42
 Sudan 29550345305 3056500.300.26
 Tanzania250580 83020041061014400.671.53
 Zimbabwe    200 2002000.090.51
EAST AFRICA AND MADAGASCAR325597925671361486222391110132462711.372.80
 TROPICAL AFRICA11845042848173516303344272932953601216634100.009.89

Table 1e : Areas of open broadleaved forests

Those mixed forest-grassland tree formations, considered potentially productive (NHc/NHO1), consist of woodlands and woody savannas with more than 40% cover and account only for one third of the total area of mixed tree formations. Their proportion is less than 15% for the northern savanna region and less than 25% for western Africa, an indication of the intensive vegetation degradation in these zones, whereas it is almost 60% for central Africa with eastern Africa being close to the continental average shown above.

Table 1f : Areas of woody formations

Several indications can be drawn from this table:

  1. the African continent contains more than twice as much open tree formations than closed forests: Africa is essentially a continent of savannas;

  2. looking at the proportion of wooded areas not disturbed by agriculture (N.f+NHc/NHO) in relation to the total area of each country, it can be seen that all countries with a percentage higher than 40% are located in central Africa, with the exception of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. Zaire and Gabon are the most forested countries (75.7% and 76.9% respectively). Some countries have a forest percentage less than 30%. These are in particular:

    As far as Sudan, Mozambique, and particularly Kenya, are concerned, percentages must be interpreted cautiously. For the two former ones, the high estimate of fallows (NHc/NHOa) is an indication that there has been a tendency to consider a large proportion of the unproductive formations (NHc/NHO2i) as fallows, contrary to what has been done in other countries. This has resulted in a substantial reduction in this latter type. The important areas of shrub formations (nH) must also be noted for these three countries. In the case of Kenya it must be considered that the northern and northeastern two thirds of the country are covered by subdesertic steppes.

    The very low figures for Burundi and Rwanda (1.5% and 8.7% respectively) are, on the contrary, an indication of a catastrphic situation in terms of woody cover. Even if fallows and shrub formations are included, percentages remain indeed very low (2.3% and 14.6% respectively). These two overpopulated countries are those where the only forest solution for the future lies in plantations, since natural vegetation has almost completely disappeared and cannot actually be reconstituted because of the very high population pressure;

  3. concerning area estimates of forest fallows (N.a and NHc/NHOa) the following points can be singled out:

    Much attention should be devoted to them and in particular it would be highly desirable to assess their areas more precisely than has been possible in this study, to know their distribution, composition, structure and dynamics;

    As for fallows of mixed tree formations (NHc/NHOa) which cover more than 100 million ha in total, that is 20% of the total area of mixed tree formations not disturbed by agriculture (NHc/NHO), their importance in western Africa must be noted (northern savanna regions and western Africa) since they correspond to 58% of the areas of NHc/NHO. In eastern Africa on the contrary they are important only in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Sudan; however, possible confusion between NHc/NHOa and NHc/NHO2i (unproductive mixed tree formations) have already been mentioned. They represent only 24% of areas of NHc/NHO in this region. These estimates of fallow areas must be used cautiously since it is extremely difficult to actually consider an area abandoned by agriculture as a fallow of open formation because of the extreme intricacy of all human activities in the savanna zone, especially with regard to grazing;

  4. areas of shrub formations are only tentative, as it is indeed most difficult to estimate them in many countries. It is also important to note that these areas include the shrub formations altered by agriculture. They are important in the northern savanna region, northern Nigeria (around 63 million ha in total) and they also cover a considerable area in eastern and southern Africa (more than 310 million ha);

  5. natural woody vegetation (N.f+NHc/NHO+nH) covers a total area of 1 145 million ha, that is 54% of the total area of the 37 countries studied. This estimate is significantly higher than the one provided in the Unesco/UNEP/FAO report “Tropical forest ecosystems” - 1979 (734 million ha), extracted from an FAO/UNEP document of 1975, itself based on figures found in “Fisher's Weltalmanach - 1974” and of the 1963 version of the FAO “World Forest Inventory”. If a detailed analysis of the total of 734 million ha is made, many inconsistencies are found related to the various concepts of forests which are not the same for all countries and lead, in most cases, to a significant underestimation. For instance only 120 million ha is indicated for Zaire, which corresponds approximately to its area of closed forests and its 70 million ha of wooded and tree savannas are disregarded. Estimates for Sudan and Chad (13 and 5 million ha of woody formations respectively) are also significantly underestimated since they correspond approximately to 7% only of their total non-desertic areas;

  6. the total area of woody formations and corresponding fallows (N+n) representing the “forest cover” amounts to 1 312 million ha, that is 60% of the total land area. This average is exceeded in all countries of western and central Africa (more than 80% in many countries), but is not generally reached in the northern savanna regions, where grass steppes and deserts exist and in eastern Africa which has large areas of sparse or non-existent woody vegetation.

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