Afzelia africana is a wood typically found in hardwood flooring markets. It trades under the common names of Afzelia or Doussie.

It’s considered a threatened species by the IUCN. And in Uganda, it’s prohibited to harvest it. But that doesn’t stop it from happening.

According to a recent report, locals were paid just US$ 13 dollars to identify Afzelia trees before they were illegally felled. Thats just several dollars per cubic meter. (Other anecdotes claim it can be as little as US$ 5).

The same tree can theoretically produce about US$ 30,000 dollars of finished wood products.

A quick search online shows Doussie engineered wood flooring prices retailing at US$ 9.79 per square foot (with a 4mm wear-layer). That’s about US$ 1,000 to cover the floor of a single 10’x10′ room. So how many Afzelia africana trees does it take to produce that thousand dollars worth of Doussie flooring? About 3% of one tree.

In other words, a tree sold for US$ 13 in Uganda can create US$ 33,000 worth of retail product in international markets.

The illegal Afzelia timber trade is an example of how income equality, regulation, corruption and opaque international supply chains combine to rob rural communities of fair profits from their forest resources via timber theft of high-value species.

Concerned about legal risks in timber supply chains? Join TimberCheck™ or check the Timber Risk Map. Want to know where your lumber originated? Start a WoodFlow™. Curious what the forest looks like after the harvest, request access to TimberSat™.

Header Photo Credit: Philipp Zinger