Resource Details

18 secondary forests in West Africa: a challenge and opportunity for management

Literature: Books or Book Chapters Available at NO COST

Schroeder, J.-M., Oke, D.O., Onyekwelu, J.C., & Yirdaw, E. 2010, 18 secondary forests in West Africa:a challenge and opportunity for management, IUFRO World Series Vol.25, International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

Contact Info

  • Jobst-Michael Schroeder,


von Thünen-Institute, Germany


Species Info

  • Cassipourea congoensis
  • Cecropia spp.
  • Ceiba pentandra
  • Ficus capensis
  • Gardenia triacantha
  • Macaranga spp.
  • Musanga spp.
  • Terminalia spp.
  • Pancovia bijuga
  • Pouchetia africana


  • This chapter discusses the importance and threats to secondary forests in West Africa, and the description of the floristic diversity and forest succession in secondary forest ecosystems. In addition, silvicultural and complementary management systems and the opportunities and challenges related are also discussed.
  • About 90% of all forests in the West African region are secondary forests, with a population of about 100 million people who live in and gain sustenance from this environment. Secondary forests provide a huge variety of non-wood forest products (NWFP), traditional, cultural and spiritual values.
  • The moist forest type extends from the coast of West Africa from Senegal to Togo. The succession of this forest type starts with herbaceous ground cover followed with 4 early pioneer species such as Macaranga spp., Musanga spp., or Cecropia spp. The late secondary forest species (30-40 years) that form the dominant canopy inclusde late pioneer species, such as Terminalia spp. and Ceiba pentandra.
  • The dry secondary forests and savannahs of West Africa are located north of the moist closed forest zone. Abandonment of cultivated lands in this forest type has led to establishment of Ceiba pentandra and Ficus capensis, followed by an increase in tree density and the formation of dense forest containing such species as Gardenia triacantha, Pancovia bijuga, Cassipourea congoensis, and Pouchetia africana.
  • Limitations to succession identified for instance is the large-seeded late successional species, especially those dispersed by vertebrates, resulting inn a lower rate or likelihood of colonizing degraded sites. Thickets of bamboo that dominate may inhibit secondary forests succession.
  • They recommend new and complex secondary forest management strategies be developed. Accompanied by multidisciplinary research that is practice-oriented and can contribute to solutions for current and future problems.

Geographical Region

  • West Africa
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