form Ghana
Forests for
the future

Trees Form Ghana

Dry Semi-Deciduous Forest Zone
Semi-deciduous forests are forests that are made up of a combination of deciduous trees, that shed their leaves in the dry season, and evergreen trees. They are located in regions with a dry season of 3 months or more. The forest canopy is typically undulating.

 

In Ghana we can distinguish two types of semi-deciduous forest: dry and moist. Approximately 9% of the total forest area in Ghana consists of dry semi-deciduous forest. This forest type forms a buffer zone between the savannah area in the north of Ghana and the moist semi-deciduous forests in the south. It is a very fragile forest type that is prone to disturbance by wild-fires and colonization of various grass species. Quite a few of the tropical tree-species that grow in this specific forest zone are rare or almost extinct in other forests of Ghana. Important timber species include African mahogany (Khaya anthotheca), Kokrodua or Afrormosia (Pericopsis elata) and Akan-Brong (Argomuellera macrophylla). Fauna is abundant in the dry semi-deciduous forest reserves. Species include baboons, duikers, bongo, waterbuck and a variety of bird-species.

 

Trees
Form Ghana would like to introduce the tree species that are used for the restoration and reforestation efforts. At least 10% of our planted forests consists of indigenous trees, using local sources of seeds to grow the plants. It is important to use indigenous trees for forest restoration, because these trees will form the framework through which the new ecosystem is woven.

 

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Awiemfosamina (Albizia ferruginea)
Albizia ferruginea is a deciduous tree that commonly occurs in woodland, lowland forest and shrub vegetation. Its crown is umbrella-shaped and can reach heights of up to 45 meters. Both fresh leaves and fruits are reddish in color, hence the name ferruginea, which refers to the Latin word for iron-, or rust-colored. The species is widely distributed over tropical Africa but declining in numbers due to overexploitation. Since 2006, it has been recorded on the IUCN Red list of threatened species as a vulnerable species. In Ghana however, the tree is still common.

 

The wood is moderately durable, resistant to fungi and to a certain extent also to termite and borer attacks. It is suitable for construction of houses, carpentry and railroads, but also for toys, furniture and musical instruments. The leafs can be eaten by goats. In Congo, the trees are used to produce charcoal and in Ghana, parts of the tree are used to treat dysentery. Albizia ferruginea can also provide shade for other trees in an agroforestry plantation and the leaves that fall down improve the soil fertility around the trees. Because of the aesthetical value of the tree, it is often planted along avenues or in parks.

 

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Bombax (Bombax buonopozense)
Bombax is native to West-Africa and can be found in the rainforests of Sierra Leone to Uganda and Gabon. It is in the same family as the famous ‘baobab' tree, which is found on the African savannas. Bombax trees, especially juveniles, have spines growing on the bark and large red and pink flowers that blossom when the trees are leafless. The seeds are embedded in ‘kapok', a cotton wool-like material. Adult trees can reach up to 40 meters in height and have large buttress roots.

 

Various parts of the tree are used for a number of purposes, such as medicinal use, dye, clothing or food. In Ghana, the leaves are often used as fodder for domestic livestock. The bark is burnt for the production of smoke that is said to chase away evil spirits and charcoal made from the spikes on the bark is used as a remedy against swellings. The kapok surrounding the seeds is used as an alternative to cotton. The wood itself is suitable for the fabrication of plywood.

 

 

Emeri (Terminalia ivorensis)
Terminalia ivorensisis a large deciduous pioneer tree, up to 50 meters tall, with a very high growth rate. It occurs in rainforests, but mainly grows in seasonal forest zones and in Ghana frequently found along roadsides. Although regeneration is not common, juvenile Emeri can be locally abundant in secondary forest. The tree is native to tropical West Africa, from Guinea to Cameroon, and has been cultivated there since the 1960's. In many other tropical countries outside of Africa the tree has been introduced as a timber plantation species. Its spiky yellow flowers are pollinated by insects.

 

The timber is resistant to fungi and to a certain extent also withstands termite attacks. It is exported for use in light constructions, furniture and matches, whilst locally the wood is mainly used for housing, canoes, firewood and charcoal. Emeri is especially suitable for cultivation in agroforestry systems to provide shading for the other crops, such as coffee, cocoa and banana.

 

Similar to Terminalia superba, the bark of Terminalia ivorensis contains a yellow dye that is traditionally used to color fibers and clothes. Extracts from the bark are locally valued as a treatment against various diseases, such as yellow fever and rheumatism. International attention has been drawn to the anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the bark of Terminalia ivorensis.

 

 

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Kokrodua (Pericopsis elata)
Krokodua, commonly known as Afrormosia, is a species of the Fabaceae family. It grows in Central and West Africa and reaches heights up to 50 meters. Illegal logging and habitat loss pose a serious threat to this much valued tropical timber species. Therefore, Krokodua is on the CITES Appendix II list and classified as endangered on the IUCN Redlist. This means the species is at risk of extinction (close to extinction in Ghana) and subject to strict trade regulation.

 

In the Asubima Forest Reserve one Kokrodua tree has been found. This tree is protected (as all remaining indigenous trees) and Form Ghana has taken up the challenge to actively restore this species. Fruiting is monitored and seeds have been collected and cultivated in the nursery. In 2011, more than 4,000 Krokodua seedlings have been planted in buffer zones and restoration areas. Success is monitored through a system of permanent sample plots.

 

 

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Kusia (Nauclea diderrichii)
Kusia is a pioneer tree that is common along roadsides all across tropical Africa. It is a medium tall evergreen tree, that reaches height up to 40 meters. It grows in evergreen forests throughout tropical West-Africa. As it is a sun-loving species, abundant regeneration occurs in forest gaps and in the transition zone between swamps and lowland forests. The cultivation of the species started in Nigeria in 1918, as a nursing tree for mahogany.

 

The timber is suitable for use outdoor because of its natural durability, being resistant to fungi and to a certain extent also to termite attacks. These properties explain its use in harbor and railway constructions as well as bridges and fence posts. In Ghana, it is mainly used for the manufacturing of mortars but telephone poles, mine shafts, furniture and drums are also commonly constructed from this wood.

 

The tree is used for food in Ghana, as an ingredient of palm soup. Both bark and leaves can be used as a medicine to treat stomach-ache and measles respectively. Elephants and other animals use the leaves as fodder. Monkeys often cause damage to the top of trees in uncovered parts of plantations.

 

 

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Mansonia (Mansonia altissima)
Mansonia, also known as Bété or ‘African Black Walnut', is a characteristic hardwood species in the dense semi-deciduous forests of Western Africa. It is a fairly large evergreen tree that can reach heights up to 45 meters. In Ghana the trees flower from May to October and the fruits are dispersed by wind at the end of the dry season. It has a tendency to thrive on dry, disturbed areas. The timber has a high value and the demand is growing, so it is a recommended species for plantations in disturbed forest areas.

 

Mansonia was first exported from Nigeria in the 1930's as a substitute for Walnut because of its resemblance to the expensive dark timber species, hence the nickname. Just like Walnut, it can be used for music instruments, gun grips and handicrafts. The species is not only aesthetically appealing, it is also a durable species with good outdoor weathering properties that can withstand attacks of fungi, termites and borers. The timber is therefore commonly used for furniture and boatbuilding.

 

The bark of Mansonia is very poisonous and has multiple functions throughout Western Africa. In Ivory Coast, extracts of the bark are used as arrow-poison, in Ghana and Nigeria products of the bark serve as a remedy against leprosy while a bath in bark-extract is said to cure syphilis, scabies and yaws. In other regions the bark- and root-extract is drunk as an aphrodisiac.

 

 

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Ofram (Terminalia superba)
Terminalia superba is a fast-growing deciduous pioneer species that is distributed widely among many West- and Central African countries, from Guinea to Congo. Its natural habitat is disturbed forest, either moist semi-deciduous or evergreen, where it regenerates quickly after the forest has been exploited. Despite this rapid regeneration, the presence of the species in natural forests has declined recently due to heavy exploitation. Thankfully, it is also a popular species for timber plantations, which compensates for the loss in natural forests. Ofram is cultivated in Africa, mainly Ghana, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, but also in many tropical countries outside of Africa. It used to be one of the major timber species of Africa and although export has declined since the seventies, it is still considered an important export timber species.

 

The trees are large, up to 50 meters, with steep, high buttresses. The fruits are winged and produced in large numbers to be dispersed by the wind. In Central African countries, the pale pinkish bark is often stripped by elephants.

 

The wood is susceptible for attacks from various insects and therefore not very durable. It is used for light construction, flooring and shipbuilding but also in smaller objects such as matches, toys and musical instruments. It can also be used as firewood or for charcoal production.

 

Locally, the timber is employed in temporary constructions, canoes and domestic utensil, and as a dye extracted from the bark. This dye is used to color fibers for the manufacturing of mats, baskets and textiles. Products from the bark and leaves are said to have a medicinal value treating all sorts of diseases, from malaria to diarrhea. Ofram is also suitable for shading of cocoa and coffee plantations.

 

 

Potrodom (Erythrophleum ivorense)
Potrodom is scattered throughout evergreen as well as moist semi-deciduous forests in West and Central Africa, mainly in old secondary forests. It is a large tree, up to 40 meters in height, with a scaly grey bark and a reddish inner bark. The species is light demanding although not a pioneer, and thrives in small forest gaps.

 

The timber is strong and heavy and resistant to fungi, borers and termites. It can be used in large constructions such as harbor and dock work, railroads and bridges, but it also produces outstanding charcoal and firewood. The bark is also used for tanning by the inhabitants of Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast. The timber of Erythrophleum ivorense is becoming more popular over the years, in particular in Cameroon, but so far the pressure on the species has not reached alarming rates yet.

 

Erythrophleum ivorense contains compounds that are of interest for the pharmaceutical industry. Further study into this usage of the species has yet to be done, as the amount of active compounds in each tree differs enormously, making unpurified use very dangerous. When used correctly however, the bark can be applied to cure smallpox, relieve pain or as a laxative. In high doses extracts are used for hunting or fish poison.

 

 

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Teak (Tectona grandis)
Tectona grandis, commonly known as teak, is the principal species planted by Form Ghana. It is a deciduous hardwood tree that can reach heights up to 40 meters. Its white flowers are small and fragrant and the leaves have a papery feel with hairs on the bottom. The tree species originates from South-Asia but is currently widespread in plantations all over the world.

 

The wood is both weather-, termite- and pesticide-resistant because of the natural oils that are contained within its fibers. This makes the wood extremely suitable for outdoor use, such as furniture or boat decks, even without treatment with oils or varnish. The attractive appearance makes teak desired for interior use as well. Teak flooring, cutting board and veneer remain popular throughout the world.

 

The physical and aesthetic features ensure a high commercial value for Tectona grandis, making it one of the most profitable tree species for plantations worldwide. In West-Africa the production of teak has also been adopted successfully. In comparison to indigenous as well as other exotic tree species, teak performs best economically. The tree is highly resistant to fire, which makes it exceptionally suitable for the fire-prone areas of the dry semi-deciduous forest zone that Form Ghana is working in.

 

 

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Watapuo (Cola gigantea)
Cola gigantea, also known as ‘Giant Cola', is a tall tree that occurs primarily in drier forests. It particularly thrives in semi-deciduous forests in West Africa, from Ivory Coast to Congo.

 

The leaves are very large, a characteristic for rainforest species, often lobed and rough to touch because of the hairy surface. The timber is white, the bark grayish. It is also one of the last native tree species that still frequently occurs in Asubima Forest Reserve.

 

The wood is not very durable and mostly used locally for the production of coffins and other products for which durability is not essential. The tree produces nuts similar to the real cola nuts (Cola nitida), that can be harvested and boiled to extract the cola.

 

 

 

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Wawa (Triplochiton scleroxylon)
With a common height of 45 meters and a diameter of 1.5 meter, Triplochiton scleroxylon is a large tree that can be seen in semi-deciduous forests of Western and Central Africa. It is a fast-growing, light-demanding pioneer species, characteristic for the (disturbed) secondary forest.

 

Wawa has been the major timber tree for these regions since the late 1950's and is nowadays still the most important timber species of Ghana and Cameroon economically. In 2005, it comprised no less than 70% of the total volume of timber products exported from Ghana and 35% from Cameroon.

 

The timber is commonly used for products like blockboard, furniture, pencils and sculptures. The wood is especially suited for the construction of saunas, more specifically for the interior parts that touch the skin, because of its low heat retention and lack of splinters.