Colonial Rule and the Exploitation of Forest Resources in Benin (Benin Province) of Nigeria
Keywords:Benin Forest Resources, Timbers, Colonial Rule, Colonial Exploitation
This paper examines the processes by which the British commercialized and exploited the forest resources in Benin for the sole benefit of the metropolis. On the successful conquest and colonization of Benin in 1897, the British authorities in collaboration of British firms invaded Benin forests for extraction of their abundant resources, especially timbers. In the course of this endeavour, the people of Benin, the owners of the forests, were relegated to the background. This paper therefore brings to fore the policies which were formulated and implemented by the British colonial authorities in the exploitation of Benin forests and the benefits or otherwise that accrued to all the stakeholders: the colonial authorities, foreign firms and the indigenous people. Rubber (funtumia and landophia) does not fall within the purview of this paper because as early as 1903 it had been domesticated and widely cultivated in plantations; thus making it an agricultural product as distinct from forest resources. The paper is derived from a synthesis of relevant materials obtained from archival materials especially those relating to forestry in colonial Benin obtained from the National Archive of Nigeria, Ibadan; oral information from respondents who are knowledgeable in forestry matters in colonial Benin; and textbooks and other published materials. It is expected that this article would stimulate more research on timber exploitation not only in Benin but other parts of southern Nigeria in the period under consideration.