Indigenous Trees in West African Forest Plantations: The Need for Domestication by Clonal Techniques

Indigenous Trees in West African Forest Plantations: The Need for Domestication by Clonal Techniques


This study evaluates native species tree plantations across West Africa by summarizing existing information on the yield of those plantations, with particular focus on the Cameroon Forest Management and Regeneration Project. It considers the potential for vegetative propagation and clonal selection to increase growth rates and marketability of native species.

Research Goals & Methods

The author reviews 5 approaches to forestry management in the humid forest zone: conservation schemes, enrichment planting; sustainable management of natural forest; industrial plantation after complete clearance; and community tree plantations. The authors stress that large-scale afforestation in the future is likely to require a mixture of community and industrial planting.

Conclusions & Takeaways

Growth was more rapid in plots that had received intensive manual or mechanical clearance of the original forest cover. Assisted regeneration in natural forests may require a line planting technique with 8-25m between lines or manual recru, which is cutting undergrowth to knee height and poisoning overstorey-but leaving some large trees in place. Terminalia superba has been planted in Congo and Zaire in association with plantains. Yields are particularly influenced by soil fertility. It has lower rates of volume production compared to T. ivorensis, with 8.4m3 ha-1yr-1 and at year 18 and around 7.5m3 ha-1yr-1Triplochiton scleroxylon has been used as a plantation species in Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast but never on a large scale because of the difficulty in obtaining reasonable quantities of seed. Under the FRMP improvements in yield and profitability through clonal selection has been implemented. For T. scleroxylon the focus has been on seed collection with 16 provenances established in Cameroon including two from Nigeria.



Lawson, G.J. 1994. Indigenous trees in West African forest plantations: the need for domestication by clonal techniques in: Leakey, R. R. B.; Newton, A. C., (eds.) Tropical trees: the potential for domestication and rebuilding of forest resources. London, HMSO, pp. 112-123.


  • Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Edinburgh, UK