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 area||Dense forest area||Forest gain||Forest loss||Total land area|
|>10% tree cover (ha)||% total land cover||>50% tree cover (ha)||% total land cover||2001-2012 (ha)||% total forest cover||2001-2012 (ha)||% total forest cover||(ha)|
|Federal Capital Territory||584691||79.7%||178||0.0%||14||0.0%||14366||2.5%||733613|
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
Scientists use genes, feces to study disappearing monkeys
||Nigeria Forest Figures
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%
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
Production plantation: 349,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations, 2005: 349,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 3.1%
Annual change rate (00-05): 6,600,000 ha
Above-ground biomass: 2,261 M t
Below-ground biomass: 543 M t
Area annually affected by
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: 560
Critically endangered: 16
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
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