Growing within the Esen Epan Forest Reserve is what is believed to be the biggest tree in West Africa, popularly called “The Big Tree”. It is located at Akyem Aprokumasi, in the Birim South District of the Eastern Region of Ghana. The Esen Epan is one of the Forest Reserves managed by the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission of Ghana.
According to Ghana’s Forestry officials, the tree stands at 90 metres in height and 396 centimetres in diameter and is the biggest tree in the country.
The tree is known locally as “Baku” with the botanical name Tieghemella heckelii. It is most common throughout the moist evergreen of the Western Region and from Sierra Leone to Nigeria. Baku is an evergreen tree, unbuttressed with a slightly enlarged base or with steep heavy, thick buttressed, dense massive crown. It bears small scented yellow flowers which later produce a 7cm long egg-shape seed with one side smooth and the other rough. Bark slash of Baku shows a thick, deep red very fibrous with white latex.
Many holes are said to be around the giant roots of the tree where visitors leave their sacrifices with prayer requests for good fortune. It has become a great tourist site in the area with tourist patronage from across the world.
Tieghemella heckelii is not common within the Bibiani Forest District. Hence the introduction of this species into the district has been met with the hope of nurturing “back born” of “The Big Tree”.
The appearance of the one-week-old Tieghemella heckelii seedling speaks a lot about the huge nature of the tree. The one-week-old seedling stands at an average height of 0.32m. The District central nursery has two hundred and ten (210) Tieghemella heckelii seedlings which are expected to be planted by the end of October 2017.
The possibility of these tree seedlings also reaching the height of the magnificent “Big Tree” is highly dependent on us humans. Each passing day is an opportunity to make history and most importantly positively impact the future.
The vision to “Leave future generations and their communities with richer better, more valuable forest and wildlife endowments than we inherited” is the greatest gift and legacy we can leave for the generation yet unborn. Let’s take pride in protecting our forest resources and sustainably use them for a holistic benefit.
It began as a fragile seedling centuries ago. The care and protection of someone led to this splendid scenery today. I am only inspired to continue my tree growing program for that is my responsibility as a Forester and I believe your role is to protect that tree.
Join the Climate Smart School agenda now and be a good environmental steward.
Plant a tree today; save a life tomorrow!
Elorm John Amengor
Jamen Leadership Consult