Lumbering In Equatorial Africa

Lumbering is the process of harvesting economic trees from the forest for various purposes such as domestic, industrial, or commercial use. This practice is prevalent in Equatorial African regions, including Zaire (around Kinshasa, Ituri, etc.) and Nigeria (around Benin City, Sapele, Port-Harcourt, etc.).   In Zaire and Nigeria, favorable factors for lumbering include the presence […]

Lumbering is the process of harvesting economic trees from the forest for various purposes such as domestic, industrial, or commercial use. This practice is prevalent in Equatorial African regions, including Zaire (around Kinshasa, Ituri, etc.) and Nigeria (around Benin City, Sapele, Port-Harcourt, etc.).

 

In Zaire and Nigeria, favorable factors for lumbering include the presence of dense tropical rainforests, economic trees, a robust market for products, high demand for hardwood internationally, a significant demand for timber as fuel, efficient sawmill industries, and effective transportation options such as rivers and roads for moving logs to sawmills or ports. The equatorial climate in these regions also contributes to favorable conditions for lumbering.

 

The methods employed in lumbering involve lumbermen searching for economic trees in the forest, constructing platforms around trees with buttress roots, and subsequently cutting down the trees using tools like axes, handsaws, or powered saws. After felling, the branches are removed, and the tree is cut into logs for easy transportation.

 

Economically important trees in lumbering include Iroko, Obeche, Opepe, Mahogany, African Walnut, Okoume, and Limber. Lumbering plays a vital role in the economy by providing foreign exchange through timber exports, creating employment for saw millers and lumbermen, supplying plywood and planks for construction purposes, and contributing to various industries such as housing, furniture, and boat construction.

 

There are differences in lumbering practices between Nigeria and Zaire, including variations in forest area sizes, distances from the coast, and transportation challenges. While Zaire has larger forest areas, transportation of timber is more challenging due to longer distances and rivers that do not directly flow to the sea. Nigeria’s forest areas are closer to the coast, and the original tropical rainforest has largely given way to secondary growth.

 

However, lumbering also poses environmental problems in both countries, such as soil erosion, depletion of natural forest products, leaching of soil, difficulties in felling non-pure stand trees, and threats to wildlife and ecosystems. Solutions to these issues include employing forest guards to prevent illegal tree felling, constructing roads for efficient log transportation, and promoting afforestation by encouraging the planting of two trees for every one cut down.

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