Lumbering in Equatorial Africa (Zaire and Nigeria)


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In today’s class, we will be talking about lumbering in equatorial Africa (Zaire and Nigeria). Enjoy the class!

Lumbering in Equatorial Africa (Zaire and Nigeria)

Lumbering in Equatorial Africa (Zaire and Nigeria) |

Lumbering is defined as the felling of economic trees in the forest for domestic, industrial or commercial purposes. Lumbering is practised in Equatorial Africa regions like Zaire (around Kinshasa, Ituri etc.) and in Nigeria (around Benin City, Sapele, Port-Harcourt etc.).

Favourable Factors for Lumbering in Zaire and Nigeria
  1. The presence of dense tropical rainforest.
  2. Presence of economic trees.
  3. Presence of a wide market for the products.
  4. High demand for hardwood in foreign countries.
  5. High demand for timber as fuel.
  6. Efficient sawmill industries to process the raw timber.
  7. Efficient transport like rivers and reads to move logs to sawmills or to ports.
  8. Favourable equatorial climate.
Methods of Lumbering

In the regions;

  1. The lumbermen search for economic trees in the forest.
  2. A platform of about 2-3 high is built around trees of buttress roots.
  3. The tree is then cut down either with an axe, handsaw or powered saws.
  4. The branches of the tree are cut-off after felling and the whole tree is cut into logs for easy transportation.
Economic Importance of Lumbering

Economic trees like Iroko, Obeche, Opepe, Mahogany, African Walnut, Okoume and Limber are of great importance such as:

  1. Lumbering provides foreign exchange through export of timbers.
  2. It provides employment to many people e.g. to sawmillers, lumbermen etc.
  3. It provides ply-woods and planks.
  4. Plywood and planks are used in the construction of houses and furniture.
  5. Timber is used for the construction of canoe and boats.
  6. It provides income to the government through the license and permits given to timber contractors.
  7. Trees in the forest help to control soil erosion as well as a windbreak.
Differences in lumbering between Nigeria and Zaire
  1. The Forest area (necessary for lumbering) of Zaire is more than the total land area of Nigeria.  That is, the forest area of Zaire is seven times the forest area of Zaire.
  2. The forest areas in Nigeria are closer to the coast than in Zaire.  While in Zaire, the forest area is about 1500km from the coast.
  3. Transportation of timber is quite a serious problem in Zaire than in Nigeria because of the long distance from the coast.  Besides, major rivers in Zaire do no flow directly to the sea.
  4. In Zaire, the vast area is still virgin forest but in Nigeria the original tropical rain forest has largely disappeared, giving way to secondary growth.
Problems of Lumbering

Problems associated with the exploitation of timber in both Nigeria and Zaire include:

  1. It causes soil erosion.
  2. It also leads to the depletion of natural forest products.
  3. It can lead to leaching of soil.
  4. Most trees are not in a pure stand, this makes lumbering difficult.
  5. It can lead to flooding.
  6. It can lead to the disappearance of wildlife
  7. Presence of buttress roots in some trees makes felling very difficult and dangerous.
Solutions to the Problems
  1. Forest guards should be employed to check the illegal felling of trees and ensure planting of new ones.
  2. Roads should be constructed around lumbering areas for easy transportation of logs.
  3. Afforestation of planting of two trees when one is cut down should be encouraged.
General evaluation
  1. What is lumbering?
  2. Explain the methods of lumbering.
  3. Describe factors that favour lumbering.
  4. List the areas of lumbering in Africa.
  5. State the economic importance of lumbering.


In our next class, we will be talking about Irrigation Agriculture in the Nile Basin and the Niger Basin.  We hope you enjoyed the class.

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