Some of the most economically exploited trees in Nigeria's forests are African walnut, various mahoganies, mansonia and, to a greater extent, the variety of trees used domestically for fuel wood. Between 1990 and 2005, the forests in Nigeria shrank by 30 percent, and the nation had the highest deforestation rate worldwide between 2000 and 2005. In order to stem the tide of deforestation, Nigeria's National Council on the Environment issued a ban on the exportation of charcoal and fuel wood in 2012.
Forests accounted for 10.8 percent of the land area in Nigeria in 2009, as reported by the United Nations. Some of the dominant species of trees include Terminalia superba, Khaya ivorensis, Brachystegia eurycoma and Erythrophleum ivorense. Biodiversity is high in the West African nation and more than 4,700 higher plant species can be found in Nigeria's forests.
In a recent estimate, forestry products accounted for 2.5 percent of Nigeria's gross domestic product, as documented in a report issued in 2010 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fuel wood represents the largest portion of the products extracted from Nigeria's forest lands. More than half of the population relies upon fuel wood for cooking because kerosene, the preferred alternative, is too expensive.
Prior to Nigeria's independence, the British colonial administration declared certain areas as forest reserves to prevent uncontrolled deforestation. However, regulated management of sustainability measures became difficult when forestry budgets were cut after independence. The most recent survey of these protected areas was conducted during the 1980s. The survey teams discovered that the forest reserve areas had been exploited for their remaining timber or turned into rubber tree or exotic tree species plantations. Only limited steps have been taken since then to prevent illegal logging and minimize deforestation.