According to the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, forest cover in Nigeria is now down to 4%. With one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan estimates that all forests in Nigeria will be gone by 2020.
Conservation assessments provide a useful tool for raising awareness of the need for action. Assessments are lacking or out of date for most Nigerian trees, meaning that the extinction risk facing them remains under-appreciated. This project will produce a list of priority trees requiring conservation action in Nigeria and carry out IUCN Red List assessments for at least 10 priority trees, both to highlight the urgency for conservation and to guide the conservation programmes of Nigerian NGOs and government.
In collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Forest Unit in Ibadan, Nigeria, this project is carrying out immediate conservation measures to protect at least 8 priority species. This includes seed collection, establishment of ex situ living collections and propagation trials, and storage of orthodox species in the IITA seed bank.
Since the project was initiated in November 2015, IITA Forest Unit has collected seed from 6 tree species from the forest reserve within the IITA compound and remaining forest fragments elsewhere in Nigeria including Akure Forest Reserve in Ondo State and Okomu National Park in Edo State. The following species have been collected so far; Afzelia africana (VU), Afzelia Bipindensis (VU), Entandrophragma angolense (VU), Irvingia wombolu (NE), Pterocarpus osun (NE) and Terminalia ivorensis (VU). Seed has also been collected from our main target species, Cola nigerica (CR) and seedlings raised in the IITA Forest Unit nursery.
As part of the project, a networking and capacity building workshop was held at IITA Forest Unit in June 2016 providing an opportunity to highlight the extinction risk facing Nigeria’s trees and deliver training to improve seed collection and propagation techniques.