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Mr. Ibraheem BALOGUN
Tropical Forest Network (TFN), IBADAN Oyo State

(Not available in French & Russian)


Nigeria covers an area of 983 213 km2 of which 360 000 km2 are classified as forest (FAO, 1979), out of these, there is a high forest reserves of about 18 688 km2 owned by the government, though most of these reserves are under exploitation or have been leased to concessionaires, who hold exclusive felling rights on them.

There is also a large area about 66 560 km2 of Savannah Forest Reserves in which useable but scattered quantities of timbers occur. In addition to these, there are vast areas of forest land outside the reserves in which large quantities of timber are available and which are not under strict control of the government as the reserves.

About 50% of total volume of timber produced in Nigeria and most developing countries are abstained from the less controlled area, Nigeria forest remarkably contains a large varieties of the species in these forest, over 100 are useable even though less than 30 (the so-called commercial species) have been introduced to world market.

Felling of trees from the reserves is strictly controlled while outside the reserves they are not controlled at all. All these above stated fact plainly shows that even in government reserves where there is harvesting control it is only targeted at wood forest product are considered insignificant and its harvesting is no consideration in the government plan of action on the forest.

This negligence coupled with the state of economy in most of the developing countries made it easy for the people to freely invade the forest to harvest non-wood forest products such as leaves' barks, roots without any hindrance, even if not of late that the government started restricting hunting wild animals in government protected reserves.

The manner and the methods of harvesting these non-woods forest products by the people are most of the time using crude and affect immensely the growth and the yield of the wood forest products itself, one of some natural forest, they are cases where such harvesting method and duration have caused the deforestation of such forest reserves.

Therefore, the people must be educated on best method and manners of harvesting non-wood forest product in a way that will not have a negative effect of the state of the forest and its wood forest products either in government forest reserves and natural forest estates.

Forest Resource in Nigeria

From time immemorial, forest and forest products have been playing a very significant role in any nations economy, mostly developing countries of the world, Nigeria included, despite the fact that forest and its resources are poorly priced in Nigeria market, the importance of the products can not be over emphasized.

Forest products can be broadly divided into wood and non-wood product in Nigeria it is commonly refer to as major and minor forest products. Major (wood) forest products includes products Timber, pole, plywood, veneers and charcoal etc while minor (non-wood) forest product include products such as dye, tanning, gums, canes, herbs etc.

Forest products whether major or minor is the backbone of most industries directly or indirectly in Nigeria, apart from industrial uses, the basic necessity of living are food, cloth and shelter, this necessity directly or indirectly originates from the forest.

In Nigeria, there is a greater concentration on the word forest product, this can be easily identify in it be titled as major forest product. The government of the country also based its forestry plan and management principles mainly on this major forest product.

In most government reserves establishment to produce timber for local and international needs little attention are paid to other minor forest products, even in some cases the public are less control in entering government forest reserves to harvest minor forest such as tree leaves, barks and root.

Due to disparity in the economy of the state and that of the citizenry, each have different perspective on type of forest resources being harvested, the government and very few rich people in the society involve themselves in timber harvest leaving other non-timber products to the ordinary citizen of the country.

Forest History in Nigeria

Nigeria covers an area of 983,213km2 of which 360,000km2 are classified as forest (FAO, 1979). This said of forest is continually diminishing due to conversion into Agricultural uses, urbanization and establishment of industries.

In other to prevent total depletion of the forest resources In the future, 10% Nigeria total land surface has been set aside as forest reserve (FDF, 1985). The Savanna reserved forest covers an area of 75,279km2 due to its importance for wildlife and forage resources.

Since the inception of forestry in Nigeria in 1960s, estimates available show that up to and including the 1980 planting season, over 135,000ha of plantations had been established in the high forest and savanna zones of Nigeria (Allen and Shimce, 1981). The second National Development Plan 1970 – 1974 gave strong support to intensive afforestation programmes using fast growing species.

The inception of Ondo State Afforestation Project in 1980 gave rise to the execution of the first phase project in 1986 and the accomplishment of the second phase in 1989. This was enhanced with loans from World Bank and African Development Bank. Similar projects are located in Anambra and Ogun States.

According to the World Bank 1978, the aims of the projects are to:

Forest resources in Nigeria include Timber, Fuelwood, wildlife, inland fisheries and forage which are physical and have market-determined values. Other output of forestry are recreation, amenity and environmental protection which all have non-market determined value.

However, growing disparity between production and supply of timber and other wood products therefore call for more plantations. In fact, the present record of planting by the states is not encouraging. Therefore, planting by individuals, groups and private companies should be promoted.

Forest management in Nigeria faces great challenge in future. There is thus an urgent need to rebuild and restore the depleting resources in Nigeria.

Natural reserves which are considered as a no man's land, freely people enter the forest, women and youths in particular to harvest tree leaves, barks, tree roots and so on. For medicinal use, in Nigeria as it is most developing countries of Africa, people are relying more on traditional medicine which mostly involve the use of herbs, this further encourage the poor masses to I enter the forest, harvest non-wood forest product which are readily made I available into money to assist their families in providing them with their '~ subsistence needs.

Harvesting of Non-Wood Forest Products

Study have revealed that more that 85 percent of those involved in harvesting of I non-wood forest products m developing countries of Africa, Nigeria in I particular are mostly women and youths with very little education if at all. In all cases, they harvest these non-wood products with cutlasses, go-to-hell and other sort of tool comfortable for them.

The system and consistency of harvesting have been revealed by studies to be seriously affecting forest estates either Natural forest reserve or Government forest plantation, study revealed that after from shifting Agriculture that is depleting Natural forest reserves uncontrolled and consistent non-wood harvesting is closely following even in Government plantations uncontrolled harvesting of non-wood forest products like leaves, barks and root have seriously affected growth and quality of timbers in such plantations.


After carefully studying the problem facing harvesting of non-wood products in Natural and Government forest reserves, a solution is disparately needed to solve this problem, this is tables as follows:

  1. Organising a lecture programme to educates youth and women on how to sustainable utilize and harvest non-wood forest product without necessarily disturbing the wood forest product and the environment;
  2. Establishing plantations to cater for some of these non-wood product need of the populace e.g. firewood plantation, leaves plantation where tree species will be grown for leaves production.

Though the second suggested solution of establishing non-wood forest product plantations seems best, but it practicability, management and control seems beyond what can be easily achieved in developing countries of Africa.

About Tropical Forest Network

The Tropical Forest Network (TFN) is a forestry research and advocacy non-governmental, organisation following on sustainable management and utilisation of the tropical forest in the sub-region.

We are using this medium to one of our newly design project titled “Youth Forestry and the Environment”. This project if finally sponsor can be used to nine educate youths and women on how to sustainable utilize and harvest non-wood products, which will be as follow up to this Turkish conference.

TFN is using this medium to solicit for moral, material and financial support from individual, corporate and international organisation, no amount or office equipment is too small.

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