NIGERIA

By Rhett Butler   |   Last updated July 12, 2014

While Nigeria is probably best known today for its oil deposits, the country is home to a rich diversity of forests and wildlife, including at least 899 species of birds, 274 mammals, 154 reptiles, 53 amphibians, and 4,715 species of higher plants. Nevertheless Nigeria's forests are some of the most threatened on the planet due to high population growth rates, conversion for subsistence and industrial agricultural, and logging.

As of late 2012, nearly half of Nigeria is forested (defined as land with more than 10 percent tree cover), but the country's rainforests are fast declining. According to the U.N., Nigeria lost nearly 80 percent of its old-growth forests between 1990 and 2005, giving the dubious distinction of having the highest deforestation rate of natural forest on the planet during that period.


Global Forest Watch map showing forest loss and gain in Nigeria between 2001-2012. Click image for an interactive map


Recent forest loss alerts. Click image to enlarge.




Most of Nigeria's rainforests are located in the Niger River Delta. The country's dense forests are concentrated in the stats of Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Osun, Rivers, and Taraba. Together those eight states account for nearly 95 percent of Nigeria's land area that has more than 50 percent tree cover.


Forest cover by state in Nigeria


Total forest areaDense forest areaForest gainForest lossTotal land area
>10% tree cover (ha)% total land cover>50% tree cover (ha)% total land cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover2001-2012 (ha)% total forest cover(ha)
Abia46016397.4%102352.2%10680.2%97502.1%472226
Adamawa147723643.4%182190.5%1370.0%193101.3%3401093
Akwa Ibom65699398.4%175382.6%7430.1%111241.7%667419
Anambra41095890.7%61561.4%550.0%25050.6%453138
Bauchi94031319.2%280.0%100.0%181341.9%4903058
Bayelsa93170198.6%59801863.3%9110.1%62380.7%944940
Benue217977369.9%68120.2%250.0%71010.3%3118602
Borno2047113.1%00.0%00.0%15090.7%6607588
Cross River204214097.5%88805142.4%49690.2%263511.3%2094534
Delta157596896.9%55427834.1%72910.5%249831.6%1625818
Ebonyi43552770.4%18300.3%1320.0%19140.4%618646
Edo192306098.3%46727023.9%304051.6%895754.7%1956740
Ekiti51705898.9%22789443.6%1760.0%71481.4%523026
Enugu70305691.3%34230.4%190.0%26610.4%770092
Federal Capital Territory58469179.7%1780.0%140.0%143662.5%733613
Gombe1323187.4%00.0%90.0%119959.1%1798939
Imo51768997.6%158403.0%9370.2%153473.0%530389
Jigawa57950.2%00.0%00.0%500.9%2396817
Kaduna163702037.0%2430.0%110.0%110050.7%4419400
Kano701943.5%00.0%00.0%750.1%1982358
Katsina104260.4%20.0%00.0%2042.0%2364473
Kebbi3009628.5%200.0%10.0%103993.5%3531054
Kogi273450095.2%296611.0%2200.0%359651.3%2873052
Kwara328871693.1%79550.2%470.0%1784565.4%3534147
Lagos23282875.6%107213.5%3650.2%79513.4%308003
Nassarawa174502066.6%2460.0%310.0%344102.0%2621138
Niger378227754.3%8150.0%680.0%2154595.7%6966616
Ogun156540497.6%835335.2%42580.3%437302.8%1603939
Ondo143189798.9%48927233.8%46170.3%329702.3%1447729
Osun90236298.4%40852344.5%2050.0%95731.1%917464
Oyo261839295.7%314591.2%2340.0%596522.3%2734793
Plateau73021926.5%7210.0%360.0%32440.4%2755650
Rivers80610396.6%15399518.4%15090.2%102151.3%834731
Sokoto221040.7%10.0%00.0%1740.8%3162145
Taraba451390575.5%68187711.4%18120.0%775991.7%5975340
Water body16478132.8%10.0%00.0%4920.3%502871
Yobe287320.6%150.0%00.0%8643.0%4553076
Zamfara2653757.7%120.0%00.0%20640.8%3448834
Nigeria4255036847.2%47148395.2%603180.1%10045592.4%90153488


Recent data from Matt Hansen and Global Forest Watch suggest that deforestation is rising in Nigeria.



This trend seems to be confirmed by the increasing number of NASA-based forest loss alerts.



Oil in Nigeria

In the 1990s, Nigeria became notorious for conflict linked to oil development in the Niger River Delta. The conflict was capped by the 1995 execution of eight environmental activists, including Nobel Peace Prize nominee Ken Saro-Wiwa who led opposition to Shell Oil's activities in the Ogoni homeland.

Nigeria environmental news [XML]

Nigeria Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 11,089,000 ha
% of land area: 12.2%

Primary forest cover: 326,000 ha
% of land area: 0.4%
% total forest area: 2.9%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -409,600 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -3.3%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 31.2%
Total forest loss since 1990: -6,145,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-35.7%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: -82000 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -11.1%
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: 111.4%
Primary forest loss since 1990: -410,000 ha
Primary forest loss since 1990:-79.0%

Forest Classification
Public: 100%
Private: 0%
Other: 0%
Use
Production: 27.6%
Protection: 0%
Conservation: 49.6%
Social services: 0%
Multiple purpose: 0%
None or unknown: 22.7

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 11,089,000 ha
Primary: 326,000 ha
Modified natural: 10,414,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 349,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Plantations
Plantations, 2005: 349,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 3.1%
Annual change rate (00-05): 6,600,000 ha

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 2,261 M t
Below-ground biomass: 543 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: n/a
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 560
Critically endangered: 16
Endangered: 18
Vulnerable: 138

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 13,916,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 72,711,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: $1,527,288,000
Wood fuel: $475,429,000
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: $2,002,718,000


More forest statistics for Nigeria

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Suggested reading - Books

CIA-World Factbook Profile
FAO-Forestry Profile
World Resources Institute