Strategies for enhancement of utilization potential of edible woody forest species of south-eastern Nigeria.
In Nigeria, deforestation, which leads to tremendous loss of biodiversity, is well advanced and about 90% of its rain forest has already been cleared. The Nigerian environment is also beset with many other problems including a food crisis. To address these problems the research project 'Development and Utilization of Fast Disappearing and Under-utilized Edible Woody Forest Species of South-eastern Nigeria' was sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, (Washington, DC). The aims of the project were to enhance the potential of edible woody forest species especially for food, but also for industrial raw materials and environmental conservation in African countries. All the species selected for the study can be used in agroforestry systems, and it is envisaged that people be encouraged to cultivate local species in their farming systems and under social and urban forestry programmes. The project investigated chemical evaluation, formulation of new edible products and ex-situ conservation techniques for 19 study species (12 trees, 6 climbers, and 1 shrub) and produced significant results for each of these aspects. The species studied were: Chrysophyllum album [C. albidum], Dacryodes edulis, Dennettia tripetala, Garcinia kola, Irvingia gabonensis, Monodora myristica, Pentaclethra macrophylla, Pterocarpus mildbraedii, P. santalinoides, P. soyauxii, Treculia africana and Xylopia aethiopica (all trees); Dioscoreophyllum cumminsii, Gnetum africanum, G. buchholzianum, Gongronema latifolium, Piper guineense and Plukenetia cocophora [P. conophora] (all climbers); and the shrub Vernonia amygdalina.