Common Name: Afrormosia, Assamela
Scientific Name: Pericopsis elata
Why is this species important?
Afrormosia is an economically important timber species that is considered an excellent alternative to teak.
Where is it found?
Pericopsis elata is a gregarious species restricted to the drier parts of semi-deciduous forests in Central and West Africa. It has been recorded from Cameroon, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Nigeria. It is a tree that reaches a height of around 50 m. The trunk is buttressed to about 2.5 m then fluted. It has a maximum diameter of about 2 m.
How do people use it?
This timber species is used for boat building, joinery, flooring and decorative veneers. Italy is the main importing country.
Why is it threatened?
Since 1948 trade in timber from P. elata has soared. Levels of exploitation have been unsustainable in all countries and the species’ habitat has declined. Regeneration is insufficient to replace lost populations. Because of concerns over the level of exploitation, P. elata is listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
What conservation action is needed?
Illegal logging is a major problem in the countries where P. elata occurs. Improved regulation of the trade is urgently needed. In Cameroon there have been recent prosecutions for exports of the timber in contravention of CITES. The CITES Plants Committee has recommended that P. elata is a priority for the CITES Significant Trade review process. This would help to ensure that exports are at sustainable levels. Certified sustainable forest management to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards in areas where P. elata is harvested should be the goal. In Ghana a programme of enrichment planting has been undertaken. This aims to increase the stock of valuable species such as P. elata. It is seen as an artificial regeneration method that is being used to supplement natural regeneration. Enrichment planting plots were established in several areas between 1975 and 1978. P. elata is also one species where trials have been established with the aim of conserving the gene pool and providing a basis for afforestation programmes. In situ conservation of P. elata in forest protected areas is a priority need for the species.
Pericopsis elata conservation status, management and trade assessment released
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