African Teak

Unsustainable illegal logging threatens this towering giant of western and central Africa.
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Suhuma Forest Reserve, Sefwi Wiawso, Ghana
© Mustapha SEIDU / WWF WAFPO

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Key Facts

  • Common names

    Afrormosia, Kokrodua and Assamela

  • Scientific Name

    Pericopsis elata

  • Status

    Endangered (A1cd); CITES appendix II

    IUCN

  • Height

    up to 50 m

Decimated over the last 50 years

The African teak is similar in appearance to other teaks and has brown, green or yellow-brown bark and a straight grain.

It grows up to 50m in height. The trunk is buttressed to about 2.5m and is approximately 2m in diameter.

African teak is used in boat building, joinery, flooring and decorative veneers. The main importing country is Italy.

Excessive exploitation of this species over the last 50 years by commercial and illegal loggers destroys the natural resources on which local indigenous communities rely for their livelihoods. It also directly impacts on other endangered species which live in these forests, including chimpanzees, gorillas and forest elephants.

Habitat

Biogeographic Realm
Afrotropic

Range States
Cameroon; Congo; The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Ghana; Nigeria

Geographic Location
Central and West Africa

Ecological Region
Semi-deciduous forests

What are the main threats?

Since 1948 trade in African teak timber has soared. Levels of exploitation have been unsustainable in all countries and the species' habitat has declined to an alarming degree.

The main problem today is illegal logging and insufficient enforcement to ensure compliance with CITES regulations.

Regeneration is insufficient to replace lost subpopulations. Although there have been attempts to grow the tree in plantations, these efforts are hampered by its slow growth rates. Conservation actions must focus on preservation of what remains.

 / ©: WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther
The future viability of endangered species like chimpanzees depends on the effective conservation of the forests where they live. Uncontrolled and illegal logging of timber such as African teak threatens to undermine decades of conservation work to protect chimpanzees.
© WWF-Canon / Michel Gunther

What is WWF doing?

  • WWF works to improve the sustainable management of the timber trade. It works with governments and local communities to improve measures to halt illegal logging and smuggling and implement effective forestry laws. This includes projects which promote the involvement of local people in the management of forest resources.
  • WWF aims to protect the habitat of endangered species by helping in the setting up and management of protected areas and forest reserves.
  • It works with both exporter and importer countries to raise awareness of the impact of buying uncertified wood, which may have been illegally sourced. It promotes the Forest Stewardship Council, which provides accreditation services for companies and organizations interested in responsible forestry.

WWF operates numerous projects to further these goals, including:
Resource Security and Wildlife Trade - Timber

Priority Species

African teak is a WWF priority species. WWF treats priority species as one of the most ecologically, economically and/or culturally important species on our planet. And so we are working to ensure such species can live and thrive in their natural habitats.
 / ©: N.C Turner/WWF-Canon
FSC logo painted on sustainably harvested logs
© N.C Turner/WWF-Canon

How you can help

  • Do you know where your wooden floor came from? Look for FSC certification when buying wood products.
  • Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.
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