Woodlands in Africa

Jun 2013
728
canada
What type of wood and forests would one expect to find in Africa? How good would the timber be used for building houses, boats,etc. I've heard about Africa generally having poor forests but at the same time being a major exporter of timber in the vast Indian ocean trade, can anyone shed some light on this?
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
Africa has some excellent rare woods like teak, mahogany, rosewood, etc. This would probably account for exports, but they aren't really very good for bulk construction.

Big bulk construction like ships and houses is best done with hardwoods, so if there is a shortage of suitable hardwood species in Africa, that might pose some problems, while still allowing them to be exporters of wood.

The thing is, wood isn't a single product, there are many different kinds of wood, not all are suited to the same purposes. Softwoods that are easy to work are better for small, intricate objects for instance, but sometimes too soft to be suitable for bulk construction. It all depends on the species.

I don't know enough about what species are there to add much more than that, but I'd suggest further information could be had by investigating hardwood species in Africa.
 
Jun 2013
728
canada
Africa has some excellent rare woods like teak, mahogany, rosewood, etc. This would probably account for exports, but they aren't really very good for bulk construction.

Big bulk construction like ships and houses is best done with hardwoods, so if there is a shortage of suitable hardwood species in Africa, that might pose some problems, while still allowing them to be exporters of wood.

The thing is, wood isn't a single product, there are many different kinds of wood, not all are suited to the same purposes. Softwoods that are easy to work are better for small, intricate objects for instance, but sometimes too soft to be suitable for bulk construction. It all depends on the species.

I don't know enough about what species are there to add much more than that, but I'd suggest further information could be had by investigating hardwood species in Africa.
Interesting, thanks for both the info and the bump!
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
I was thinking, where did you hear that there's a lack of wood there? I'm just wondering if someone might have thought that just because there isn't a lot of wood construction like timber houses there. That wouldn't really mean there wasn't good timber around though. Timber is not really ideal for home construction in tropical climates for all sorts of different reasons, it's great in northern latitudes because it insulates well, but that's not really ideal in warm climates.

It's also a lot more work than things like adobe or mud-brick and the construction is less plastic. Plus it's more vulnerable to insects.

Another thing is that if I lived in a place like Africa, I probably wouldn't be living the majority of my life indoors, and the house would be much less of a priority for me. I'd just want somewhere cool to sleep, and a place to store and prepare food to prevent animals and bugs from getting at it.

And as far as things like fortifications and monuments go, timber is just the quick and dirty way of doing it; properly, you want stone or at least brick for that sort of thing.
 
Jun 2013
728
canada
I was thinking, where did you hear that there's a lack of wood there? I'm just wondering if someone might have thought that just because there isn't a lot of wood construction like timber houses there. That wouldn't really mean there wasn't good timber around though. Timber is not really ideal for home construction in tropical climates for all sorts of different reasons, it's great in northern latitudes because it insulates well, but that's not really ideal in warm climates.

It's also a lot more work than things like adobe or mud-brick and the construction is less plastic. Plus it's more vulnerable to insects.

Another thing is that if I lived in a place like Africa, I probably wouldn't be living the majority of my life indoors, and the house would be much less of a priority for me. I'd just want somewhere cool to sleep, and a place to store and prepare food to prevent animals and bugs from getting at it.

And as far as things like fortifications and monuments go, timber is just the quick and dirty way of doing it; properly, you want stone or at least brick for that sort of thing.
Hmm, I'm not sure, but I think some people have said it's something to do with its environment, most of the woodlands in Africa are in rainforests, which I think have less denser/weaker wood, and that the many species of bugs/termites make building with wood a short-term endeavor. But apparently East Africans have been exporting timber for a long time, so I wasn't sure.