18 Secondary Forests in West Africa: A Challenge and Opportunity for Management

18 Secondary Forests in West Africa: A Challenge and Opportunity for Management


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.

conclusions & takeaways

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 by early pioneer species and then late pioneer species. Limitations to succession are identified, such as the difficulty of establishing large-seeded late successional species, especially those dispersed by vertebrates, on degraded sites. Bamboo thickets also often inhibit secondary forest succession. The authors recommend new and complex secondary forest management strategies be developed.


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).


  • von Thünen-Institute, Germany