Deforestation and the future of human heritage

in STEMGeeks7 months ago

I recently got closely involved in a building project and could not imagine that we have it quite bad as far as getting woods for construction works is concerned in Nigeria. The project is located in the Southwestern region of the country whose vegetation is characterized by lowland rainforest. The implication is that the region represents a hotspot for timber and wood generation for the rest of the country and even beyond.

For a region that is supposed to be a timber/wood hotspot, one would expect that getting quality woods at an affordable price should not be a hard thing to come by. However, the reverse was the case as we laboured very hard to get woods of relatively decent quality at an exorbitant value. Many of the available planks in the market were of very poor quality and did not come cheap as well.

One needs to soothsayer to tell them what has happened, happening, and will continue to happen in the nearest future. Virtually all the economic woods in the forest have been harvested without any form of replacement. So much so that the less economic ones now hold a high value as far as construction is concerned. When the desirable becomes unavailable, the available will have to become desirable. Many of the timber species that one would not go near for their construction work in the past are now being held in high esteem.

Gone are those days when economic timber species like Milicia excelsa (Iroko), Ceiba pentandra (Ayun), Kaya grandifolia, Terminalia ivorensis, Parkia biglobosa, Terminalia superb, Adansonia digitata, and other important timber species litter the horizons of lowland rainforest regions of Nigeria. Many of these tree species have been wantonly and illegally harvested by money-seeking capitalists. Some were actually harvested immaturely as pressure mounted on the available resources from a bourgeoning population.

CC BY-SA 3.0,

The implication is that even the lesser economic species are also going into extinction and the few available ones are still being used to generate woods and sold at high prices.

This whole phenomenon got me worried for not just our generation but generations to come. We all know the importance of trees in the ecosystem. They play vital roles in maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem. They protect watersheds, limit soil erosion by wind and water, serve as habitats for a whole of organisms, helps in fixing carbon and purifying the atmosphere, serve as sources of food, wood, drugs, and raw materials for local and industrial use, among many other benefits to both mankind and the ecosystem at large.

I can vividly remember some years back when I got a deep cut from a knife while on the farm and bleeding heavily. It was the latex and bark of Milicia excelsa that stopped the bleeding pending the time that we managed to get to the hospital. I could have bled to unconsciousness before getting to the clinic if we had had no access to the herbal resources.

Construction works here in Nigeria generally still rely heavily on wood and wood products. But with woods fast disappearing in forests, there will not be any option than to seek out the alternatives - the only workable alternative being iron and this will not come cheap in any way.

Granted that there could be alternatives to woods as far as construction works are concerned, the same cannot be said for the other functions that trees/timbers perform. Many of these trees serve as sources of drugs for diseases that are yet to emerge as we all know that pathogens keep evolving. In addition, no sane person will consume irons as food while no other living or nonliving thing can take the place of trees in terms of the ecological functions they perform in the ecosystem.

The bottom line is that the future of human heritage in terms of biodiversity and the functions they perform looks bleak as far as the Southwestern part of Nigerian is concerned. I may not be able to say the same for other regions as I do not have a clear knowledge of the situation over there.

I engaged a user on Reddit about deforestation a few days ago and was alarmed to discover that a similar trend is obtainable over there. Hopefully, something drastic would be done before we cross the rubicon.

Thank you all for reading.

Posted with STEMGeeks


Hi @gentleshaid the problem of deforestation is a problem. As you point out, the detail is that there is no substitution, just cut and sell. In my college days, I used to go to a town located by the sea, and on the way, I passed miles and miles of pine trees, and every time we passed we were amazed again. In 2019, I passed by that road again, and what I saw, wrinkles the heart harder. Thank you for giving us and highlighting these issues.

The abuse of natural resources seems to be everywhere. Just that some countries have policies in place to checkmate the excesses of human. Thanks for stopping by

I believe that, unfortunately, deforestation is a common topic in almost all countries (and maybe mainly in third world countries, as is my case here in Brazil). The region where I live in particular is very rich in wood and has some good laws protecting the finest woods, but it is not uncommon to see large deforestation consuming native forests for the cultivation of grains around here. And more strikingly, we have the Amazon as an example, which has been deforested daily, year after year... I don't see any problem in using natural resources such as wood for their own constructions, but unfortunately our social economic industrial system consumes much more and in an absurd way, than if it were something private, where each one takes what they need. And the same can be said of the food

The woods are there for our use actually. However, we need to be prudent in their uses and plant as much as, if not more, we remove for usage. With that, we can be sure of the future.

Forests are a valuable resource that needs to be managed. Historically, the best way to manage forests is through property rights. When people are holding trees as an investment, they are more likely to plan the sale of timber to the market.

When the forests are viewed as a commons. People are likely to trash the forests to get money now regardless of the price.

The United States had the experience that loggers trashed the forests on public lands. Once ownership was better established the industry matured. So, there are more trees in the United States than there were a hundred years ago.

Interestingly the biggest problem in the US is that environmentalists prevent proper forest management; so we have been experience really bad fires.

The fire is another problem entirely and might downplay the wins of ownership. I really hope proper forest management is effected through relevant policies moving forward. My country is far behind the US in almost every aspect, except poverty of course.

When people actually own a forest, the owners generally do a better job protecting the resource from fire than collectively owned land. This is especially true when the resource is owned by locals.

As for poverty, I would not be surprised to see the US catching up with Nigeria in that area. The ruling elite have mismanaged the US economy for decades. City streets are lined with homeless camps and millions of people are but a paycheck from hunger. The only thing holding the US together is the fact that the US Dollar is held as a the reserve currency.

If that stops things in the US will get bleak fast.

BTW: It gets cold here. Our poverty might start with people freezing.


The US has a strong military. I don't think the country will degenerate to the level of Nigeria. She will rather find countries with resources to invade and make use of their resources to boost their economies. I don't even know what I am saying.

 7 months ago Reveal Comment

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