Useful Tree Species for Africa


Tools you can use to select useful tree species for planting anywhere in Africa using Google Earth or Shiny App. It is similar to the species selection tool, but covers the whole continent, albeit at a much lower resolution.

To use the tool in Google earth, download the Google Earth KMZ file. If you have installed Google Earth Pro, the downloaded layer will automatically open in Google Earth. Alternatively, you can start Google Earth in your browser. Next, click on Projects (5th icon in the side bar), and next click the button New Project. Select the option Import KMZ file from computer, and open the KML file you just downloaded.

After opening the KML file in Google Earth, you should see two different interactive layers: (1) The vegetation layer: this transparent layer is linked to descriptions of mapping units, vegetation types and species composition for each vegetation type; (2) The physiognomic layer: this colored layer is linked to descriptions of physiognomic vegetation types such as forest, woodland or bushland (this layer is colored).


For more information about the tool, check out the links below. Please read these documents carefully, in particular to learn about some of the limitations of the tool. If you are working in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda or Zambia, we recommend to use the higher resolution species selection tool.

Before starting a tree planting project, we recommend you look at the Tree Seeds for Farmers toolkit. This provides technical information on the best methods for obtaining seeds of good genetic and physiological quality as well as links to a range of other useful resources.


The Useful Tree Species for Africa tool was developed by the World Agroforestry Centre and Forest and Landscape Denmark under the UNEP-GEF Carbon Benefits Project. Some additional funding was provided through the VECEA project (funded by the Rockefeller Foundation) and the ReACCT project (funded by BMZ).


Kindt, R., Orwa, C., van Breugel, P., Graudal, L., Lillesø, J-P.B., Kehlenbeck, K., Neufeld, H., and R. Jamnadass. 2012. Useful tree species for Africa. World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), Nairobi & Forest & Landscape Denmark, Copenhagen. URL: or URL: //