Rubber Tree, Derived Savannah and Compromised Guinea Savannah in West Africa
The earliest report on the loss of the northern portion of the Rain Forest in West Africa dates back to the 1950s and desertification of the West African Guinea Savannah has been reported. It is believed that the loss of vegetation and trees in particular was due to climate change making it difficult for cultivated land to regain its tree component even when left fallow indefinitely. This led to increased aridity as control of moisture and temperature provided by trees was lost such that the Sahel Savannah was extending southwards to consume the erstwhile Guinea Savannah. In addition, the Guinea Savannah was extending southwards leading to the concept of derived savannah as the portion of the Rain Forest degraded by loss of trees assumed the status of grass land. This development has caused severe social dislocation evident in loss of arable land, reduced economic power of the natives, vulnerable population, inter-communal conflicts, migration etc. Rubber cultivation in non-traditional areas, degraded land, its potential for climate change adaptation/small holder farming schedules have been reported. The concern of ‘irreversible’ loss of trees if left to nature, can be addressed through rubber tree based farming schedules to ensure community based, eco-friendly, profitable and sustainable forest management. The objective of this paper was to present the scenario of the loss of Rain Forest to grassland and even the Guinea Savannah to Sahel in West Africa and how to use rubber tree based farming system to ensure sustainable tree culture.