Growing awareness of the roles of trees and forests in Africa

26 sep 2014

The increasingly recognised importance of forests and trees brings about new processes

A crucial resource for livelihood

Africa today has a forest area of 675 million ha and 350 million ha of other wooded land (wooded savannahs, thickets and shrubland, etc.). There is also a considerable volume of wood contained in trees outside forests, which include trees and other woody plants in rural landscapes as well as in urban settings, on private land and along roads, etc.

Increasing recognition of forests and trees

African governments and regional organisations, often with support from and in partnership with international and UN bodies, have increasingly recognised the importance of both the economic, social and environmental roles of forests and trees. This has brought about changes and new processes regarding the management of and thinking around these resources.

Examples of new processes

  • Decentralisation and devolution of administration and increased emphasis on community participation in forest management;
  • Changes in forest administrations towards more autonomous boards/authorities/commissions;
  • Increasing roles of the private sector in forest production and industry; in some countries this has resulted in privatisation of public-owned enterprises and plantations;
  • Increasing roles of civil society , particularly national and international NGOs, in influencing forest resources management through advocacy for and support of community participation; and,
  • How forests in Africa[1] shall contribute to mitigation of concerns about negative change processes influencing global public environmental goods and services (climate, biodiversity, etc.).

Contributions to agricultural production and food security

As a result both of the growing awareness of the direct roles of trees and forests in Africa’s economic and environmental development, but also of their interactions with and contributions to agricultural production and food security, the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has requested AFF (African Forest Forum) to propose how to incorporate forests, trees and agroforestry into the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).


Share Dr. Björn Lundgren experiences

This is the third article in a series of articles were Dr. Björn Lundgren share his experiences from Africa. Within the coming weeks several articles will be published about e.g. policy processes, trends, potential roles of forests and trees in Africa to address challenges and potentials.


Author: Dr. Björn Lundgren, Editor: Dr. Fredrik Ingemarson

Photo African Forest Forum (www.


Earlier articles

Unreliable statistics on Forests in Africa

Uses of trees and forests in Africa


[1]Nair, C.T.S. and J. Tieguhong, 2004. African forests and forestry: an overview. AFORNET/FAO/KSLA, Nairobi. 27 pp.