IITA Forest Project is part of IITA’s Natural Resource Management. It seeks to address environmental problems that impact on IITA’s research into improving staple crops and finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Based at IITA international headquarters in Ibadan, Nigeria, the Forest Project was initiated by Dr John Peacock and began in early 2010. It is now managed by Dr Stefan Hauser and led by Deni Bown with a team of eight headed by Nursery Manager Olukunle Olasupo and Head Ranger Theophilus Timelehin. The Forest Project is funded by the Leventis Foundation which since 1988 has been a prime mover in environmental education and the preservation of natural resources in Nigeria.

Children catching butterflies in IITA forest reserve



IITA Forest Project aims to manage the existing IITA Forest Reserve, remove invasive species, reforest degraded areas and catalogue forest resources (especially birds, butterflies and medicinal plants), using the information for environmental education. As further funding becomes available, there are plans to develop a Medicinal Plant Garden, restore the IITA Arboretum of Indigenous West African trees, and link with IITA International School to establish an Environmental Education Center (EEC). The EEC will archive, store and interpret biodiversity information which has been recorded on site since the 1970s, enabling IITA to lead West Africa in natural resource management. IITA is a not-for-profit research-for-development (R4D) organization which is wholly funded by donors. To make a donation to support our work, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

IITA Forest Project activities

  • Collecting seeds of indigenous plants
  • Propagating indigenous plants by seed, cuttings and collection of ‘wildlings’ (self-sown seedlings)
  • Experiments into reforestation techniques and cultivation of ‘at risk’ species
  • Removal of invasive species such as Leucaena leucocephala, Gliricidia sepium, Chromolaena odorata and Tithonia diversifolia
  • Replanting degraded areas with native species
  • Increasing biodiversity by planting depleted or scarce species
  • Surveys of birds, butterflies, flora and other living organisms
  • Producing checklists and publications
  • Engaging in environmental education at all levels
  • Collaborating with other organizations to increase and share knowledge about biodiversity and conservation

indigenous plant nursery

Our nursery stocks over 35,000 plants of more than 70 species and we store seeds in IITA Genetic Resources Centre. Surplus plants and seeds are for sale to help reforestation elsewhere.

We organize ‘walks on the wild side’, bird watching and tree planting events. To visit the Forest Reserve, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Checklists and other publications are available as free downloads. Coming soon is a series of guidebooks.


African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon)

The African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon), known as arere in Yoruba and obeche in Bini, is a large fast-growing tree, reaching 65 m (213 ft), usually with a straight trunk and buttresses up to about 8 m (26 ft) high. It belongs to the family Sterculiaceae and is common in semi-deciduous rainforests from Sierra Leone to Gabon and Congo, including secondary forests where it may fill gaps as a pioneer species.

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