About the African Wood Density Database

This database provides air-dry wood density data for over 900 indigenous and exotic tree species found in Africa.

Wood density is mass of wood per unit volume. It is an important trait for estimating stored biomass and carbon content per unit volume of tree stem(Chave et al. 2009 ).

Air-dry density is expressed as a ratio of mass to volume (g/cm3) for wood at about 12% moisture content. This is a different measure to basic density, which is calculated as the ratio of oven-dry mass to green volume.

Wood density reported in the scientific literature is commonly reported as basic density and this must be kept in mind when examining the density values in this database and comparing them with other data.

Empirical relationships between basic density and air dry density for wood of many tree species have been developed: air-dry density at 12% moisture content is calculated by multiplying basic density by a factor of 1.22.

Conversely, basic density can be calculated by multiplying air-dry density by a factor of 0.82. However, these conversion ratios cannot be assumed to hold precisely for all tree species reported here. The database is intended to serve as a guide to support tree and vegetation carbon monitoring work. Typically, a range of densities, obtained from measurements on wood samples from several mature trees, is given.

It should be noted that wood density is affected by tree age and varies both radially and longitudinally within the tree, so is affected by sampling position. The environment also typically influences wood density. Furthermore, significant genetic variation in wood density within a species is commonly observed.

The density values provided in this database should be used with these caveats in mind. Tree species names are provided as both botanical and common or local names. Nomenclature for some of the tree species is out of date. Species are listed by country where their distribution is known.

The African Wood Density database focuses mainly on woody trees grown in Africa. This database complements the South East Asia Database

The database was developed in parallel to the development of the Global Wood Density Database

Users are further encouraged to familiarize themselves with a manual on Measuring Carbon Stocks Across Land Use Systems


This work was partly funded by the Carbon Benefits Project (CBP) supported by The Global Environment Facility (GEF)

The advice of Dr. Jugo Ilic is gratefully acknowledged.

Suggested citation

Carsan, S. Orwa, C. Harwood, C. Kindt, R. Stroebel, A. Neufeldt, H. and Jamnadass, R. 2012.
African Wood Density Database.
World Agroforestry Centre, Nairobi.
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Afzelia bipindensis (Caesalpiniaceae)
afzelia, aligna, apa, yellow afzelia, azza, beyo, doussie, kpendei, uvala,
Known Distribution in Africa
Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Nigeria, Uganda.
Air-dry Wood Density (g/cm3)0.73-0.90
Moisture content (%)12
Bolza, E. & Keating, W.G. (1972). African timbers: the properties, uses and characteristics of 700 species. Division of Building Research, CSIRO, Melbourne, Australia. 710 pp.
African Regional Workshop: Conservation & Sustainable Management of Trees, Zimbabwe, (1998). Afzelia africana. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.1. www.iucnredlist.org (accessed) 21 July, 2011.