Common Name: Makore
Scientific Name: Tieghemella heckelii
Categories: Music, Timber
T. heckelii reaches a height of about 60 m. It has a straight trunk that is free of buttresses and has a diameter of up to 3 m.
Why is this species important?
Tieghemella heckelii produces a fine timber that is commercially valuable. It is one of only two species in the genus. The other, T. africana, is also an endangered timber species of Central and West Africa. Ecologically makoré is important as a source of fruits and seeds eaten by elephants and other forest mammals.
Where is it found?
T. heckelii is found mainly in wet evergreen rainforest in West Africa. It has been recorded from Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
How do people use it?
Also known as African cherry and cherry mahogany, T. heckelii is a timber species used for furniture, cabinet work, joinery, decorative veneers, panelling, boat building, flooring, turnery, carving, marine plywood and many other applications where a quality hardwood is required. In musical instrument production it has been used for pianos and harpsichords, with the most highly coloured timber currently figuring as the sound board for electro-acoustic guitars.Makoré has the appearance of a close-grained mahogany, the heartwood ranging in colour from a cherry-like pinkish red to a darker brownish red hue. The grain is most often straight, showing the occasional mottle. Locally the oil from the seed is eaten and the fruit is used to make soap.
Why is it threatened?
The forests of West Africa are now reduced to fragments of their former range. In Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone the primary rainforests now cover less than 10 percent of their original extent. Ghana has more of its forests remaining with over 20 percent forest cover and Liberia has roughly 40 percent of its original forest cover. Over-exploitation in some countries is leading to serious population declines for makoré, notably in Ghana and Liberia, where the possibility of T. heckelii becoming extinct has been reported. Regeneration may be limited in some areas because of a reduction in the number of seed dispersers, particularly elephants.
What conservation action is needed?
Illegal or poorly controlled logging are problems in the countries where makoré occurs. Improved regulation of trade is urgently needed. Certified sustainable forest management to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards in areas where makoré is harvested should be the goal.In Liberia, FFI is working with local and international partners to improve the basis for the conservation and sustainable management of forests through forest mapping and protected area management.
Hawthorne, W., 1995, Categories of conservation priority and Ghanaian tree species. Unpublished. 38 pp.
Voorhoeve, A.G. (1979) Liberian high forest trees. Second edition H. Veenman & Zoner N.V., Wageningen
The Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SCNL)
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