Paper presented at 19th IUFRO World Congress, August 1990, Montreal, Canada

Role of Eucalypt Plantations in Timber Supply and Forest Conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Published in: South African Forestry Journal
Volume 156, issue 1, 1991 , pages: 56–60
DOI: 10.1080/00382167.1991.9629088
Author(s): A., P.G. SchönauInstitute for Commercial Forestry Research, South Africa


The role of eucalypt plantations in timber supply and forest conservation in Sub-Saharan Africa was investigated. The annual destruction of 11,5 million ha of tropical forest is highlighted, the various causes indicated and the controversy whether fast-growing plantations and woodlots have a role to play in the conservation of these forests is discussed. It is shown that the total eucalypt estate in Sub-Saharan Africa exceeds one million ha of which 75 % are for commercial purposes which represents 16 % of the world's total area. It is estimated up to 30000 ha of new industrial plantations will be established per year for the next five years while the annual extension of fuelwood plantations and woodlots should amount to at least double that area. Growth rates of eucalypts vary widely from 1,2 to 70 m3/ha per annum, depending on site conditions and silvicultural techniques. Under average conditions rates between 15 and 25 m3/ha are achieved. It is expected that correct site/species matching, improved stock and adequate silviculture can improve these growth rates by at least 40%. The growth rates of natural forests and open woodland are low. To protect these resources it is estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa at least 25 million ha of plantations and woodlots with fast-growing species are required to satisfy the demand for fuelwood and other rural needs. The role of eucalypts in supplying large-sized timber is relatively small. The impact of research on eucalypt growing is highlighted in two countries. In the Congo the development of clonal forestry has been a great success, while it is estimated that developments in the fields of genetics, site research and silviculture can increase the yields in South Africa by at least 40%. It is indicated that the future expansion of eucalypt plantations can be substantial owing to the increased demand for hardwood pulpwood. Eucalypts can also play a considerable role in the supply of fuelwood, but other species may be more preferred.

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