Common use of trees

  • Category: Forestry
  • Author: Fabrice Feyton
  • Published: May 10, 2020
  • Views: 936

Forests have many values, ranging from biological, recreational, aesthetic, and economic. Managing a forests really boils down to value prioritization and determining how to maximize some without seriously degrading others.

Factors that influence species selection

  • Current market value
  • Rates of growth and appreciation
  • Climatic conditions
  • Ease of management and resistance to pests and diseases
  • Rotation ages
  • Plantation site
  • Planting density
  • Soil conditions
  • End use
  • Cost of establishment

Tree selection guide we are using today is based on the end use and the characteristic of tree which are suitable for a given end use. Examples of candidate trees is given for each end uses. For climatic needs, each species have their own climatic demands, rotation age, and growth rate.


Timber production is still the major use of forestry alongside fuelwood production in developing countries. Many small business use timber as the major raw material in their line of production. With no doubt, timber is a basic raw material used to satisfy wants for a wide variety of services, housing, books, furniture, fence posts, packaging, sanitary papers, chemicals, and so on. These and hundreds of other consumer and producer products are derived from timber. Thus the quantity and quality of timber made available for use is important aspects for forest management.

Read more about timber management here

Poles and posts production


Poles and posts are commonly used for construction of houses and fences. In developing countries, this product is in great demand due to the ongoing projects of distributing electricity. Poles should have few and thin branches and should preferably be self-pruning to avoid knots that may causes weakness during uses. Poles should have the following characters generally:

  • Be straight
  • Durable
  • Light in weight for ease transports and handle
  • Resistant to termites and borers
  • Resist bending
  • For posts, larger diameters are preferred


  • Cassia sienna
  • Terminalia brownie
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Eucalyptus tereticornis

Fuelwood production


charcoalFuelwood encompass firewood and charcoal for domestic and industrial uses. Traditional charcoal production uses 10 tons of wood to produces 1 ton of charcoal with about 30% of usable energy lost during the process but nevertheless, charcoal has advantages over wood as a fuel because it is easily transportable. The growth rate of relevant species is the most important factor in the choice of species for wood fuel production.

Trees and shrubs should have small stem diameters and be easy to cut at the time of harvesting. Their wood should split and dry easily and produce little and non-toxic smoke. For safety reasons the wood should not spark while burning. The best fuel wood burns steadily, producing a high amount of heat from glowing coals. Ability to coppice and hence their minimal need for management are additional advantages


  • Eucalyptus spp
  • Acacia saligna
  • Acacia senegal
  • Cajanus cajan
  • Calliandra calothyrsus
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Combretum species
  • Eucalyptus saligna
  • Read more here

Windbreak, shade and ornamental

Wind desiccates plants through accelerated evapotranspiration. Ideal windbreak and shade tree should be:

  • Bushy and capable of resisting strong winds
  • Trees that provide dense shade throughout the year are the most suitable for hot places
  • Torelant to harsh environmental conditions
  • Deep crowns that allow for some wind penetration
  • Retain foliage on lower branches
  • Firm roots and rapid growth
  • Evergreen and widely spreading dense crown
  • Fast growing, long-live, unpalatable to domestic animals and tolerant to soil compaction.


  • Jacaranda mimosifolia
  • Mangifera indica
  • Cassia siamea
  • Albizia gumifera
  • Tamarindus indica
  • Parkinsonia aculeata
  • Grevillia robusta

Soil improvement and stabilization

In many places, soils are often deficient in organic matter and nitrogen. These deficiencies can be solved by planting nitrogen-fixing trees and shrubs with heavy litter fall. Soil improving trees should exhibit the following characters:

  • Have fast decomposing litter
  • Modest in their nutrient requirements
  • Denuded soils and harsh environmental conditions tolerance

Species example:

  • Alnus acuminata
  • Acacia albida
  • Azadirachta indica
  • Calliandra calothyrsus
  • Leucaena leucocephala
  • Cassia siamea
  • Melia volkensii
  • Melia volkensii
  • Tephrosia candida

Handicraft and basketry

Forest products are used for income generation for example carvings, basketry material, tool handlers, mortars, pestles, and ropes. The wood properties suitable for this end use:

  • Durability
  • Toughness
  • Beauty and ease woking
  • For tool handlers, the appropriate wood should be resistant to shock and splitting
  • Leaves used for basketry should easily be durable and strong while the bark should easily peel off in strips and have high flexibility even after drying


  • Grewia trichopa
  • Erythrina abyssinica
  • Dalbergia melanoxylon
  • Hyphaena ventricosa
  • Brachylaena huillensis
  • Bridelia micrantha

Fruits production

Fruits are regarded as special because of their importance as sources of food and honey. A number of tree species have edible fruits which are consumed domestically or sold for additional processing in industries to produces juices or other products. Case study Ese Urwibutso. Main qualities:

  • Ability to fruits frequently
  • Tolerance to drought
  • Resistance to pests and diseases
  • Heavy and dense crowns
  • Growth to a height sufficient to avoid destruction by animals
  • The fruits produced should also be resistant to pests and diseases

Other tree products and end use

Herbal medicine

Due to inadequate health facilities in remote areas, some inhabitants especially in ASALs depend on herbal medicine for relieving certain ailments. The knowledge among the different people of what species to use for various elements should be documented and the relevant species concerned. The species should preferably be drought resistant and capable of resisting repeated harvesting of the required parts and should be resistant to pests and diseases

  • Albizia gumifera
  • Ziziphus mauritiana
  • Carissa edulis
  • Tamarindus indica
  • Azadirachta indica
  • Terminalia brownii
  • Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  • Moringa oleifera

A diverse flora rich in various natural products such as gum, tannin, dyes, oils. The existence of these products and the species that produce them are known, their mass production has not been developed. Some of the known species for this includes Euphorbia tirucalli, Balanites aegyptiaca, Acacia senegal, Acacia seyal, etc.

Browse and fodder

The species suitable for this should be fast growing, resistant to drought and able to sprout profusely after browsing. These are the common species planted in an Agroforestry system mixing forestry species and animal production to increases fodder. Those tree species must have edible leaves which are not poisonous to livestock and their seeds should be able to germinate after passing through the digestive system of the animals


  • Acacia albida
  • Acacia elatior
  • Acacia senegal
  • Prosopis juliflora
  • Leucaena spp

Live fences

Live fences are increasingly becoming popular especially in urban places but also in rural areas as well as because of their low establishment cost. Species suitable for live fences should have prickles, stiff branches, and non-edible leaves. They should be fast growing when grown closely under adverse conditions and must require minimum maintenance.

Suitable species include: Dovyalis caffra, Ziziphus mauritiana, Acacia mellifera, Euphorbia tirucalli

I am student in Forestry and am happy to contribute to the available knowledge regarding this field. I am interested in use of data and technology to improve how forest sector is perceived and to improve investments in the sector....

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