The Ivory Coast is internationally noted for its coffee, cocoa and pineapples, being in the world's top three or four producers in all of them.
The Ivory Coast is internationally noted for its coffee, cocoa and pineapples, being in the world's top three or four producers in all of them. Not so well known is that this relatively small African country is also one of the wold's leading exporters of raw timber.
Timber is the Ivory Coast's principal product, accounting for more than GBP52,000,000 (125 million dollars) or 30 per cent, of its export earning last year. Production in 1969 amounted to more than 3,000,000 metric tons.
Situated only a few degrees north of the Equator, the country is well placed geographically for tropical timber. Its hot and humid climate is ideal for the growth of the huge trees which characterise its dense forests.
The biggest trees such as sipo, makore, kosipo and tiama -- all redwoods -- grow to a height of 120 to 150 feet (35 to 45 meters) and have a diameter of up to 6 feet (nearly two meters).
Even the smaller trees, such as framire, bete, and niangon, grow to about 120 feet (35 metres), though their girth rarely exceeds 3 ft (one metre) in diameter.
Although exploitation of the Ivory Coast's forests started as early as 1895, there are still nearly 8,000,000 hectares of natural reserves left. And with an eye to the future the Government ordered the establishment of nearly 20,000 hectares of plantations between 1960, when the country became independent, and last year. New species are also being introduced.
It is estimated that more than GBP10,000,000 (24 million dollars) is invested in the forest-exploitation industry and about GBP7,500,000 (18 million dollars) in associated timber industries. Such is the world demand for Ivory Coast timber that between 1960 and 1967 about 3,000,000 hectares of natural dense forest was exploited and the timber exported.
Most of the timber is shipped form Abidjan, the biggest port in Francophone Africa. It has a timber pool and special docks for loading the huge logs.