Guinean Moist Forests - A Global Ecoregion

Leaf insect, Taï National Park, Ivory Coast Project. rel=
Leaf insect, Taï National Park, Ivory Coast Project.
© WWF-Canon / John E. NEWBY

About the Area

This "super" ecoregion is made up of these terrestrial ecoregions.
  1. The Western Guinean lowland forests that extend from Guinea and Sierra Leone through Liberia and southeastern Côte d'Ivoire as far as the Sassandra River;
  2. Guinean montane forests found at higher elevations in the highlands of central Guinea, northern Sierra Leone, and eastern Côte d'Ivoire; and
  3. The Eastern Guinean forests that extend east from the Sassandra River through Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana to western Togo, with a few isolated enclaves further inland in the highlands of central Togo and Benin.
The Guinean moist forests are greatly influenced by the dry winds from the Sahara and the cool currents of the Atlantic, creating a climate that is more seasonal (including over 80 inches or 200 cm of rainfall!) than the Congolian forests of Central Africa.

Many plants and animals found here are also found in the Congolian forests, revealing that these forests may have been connected in the past. Temperatures vary little, giving the region a perfect greenhouse climate.

Size:
427,000 sq. km (165,500 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests

Geographic Location:
West Africa: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte D'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species

The diversity of life inhabiting these forests is nothing short of astonishing! Scientists have documented extraordinary diversity in some parts of this ecoregion. For example, in addition to over 2,000 species of vascular plants recorded, more than 500 new species have been discovered on Mt. Nimba, many of them endemic.

Selected species include the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), leopard (Panthera pardus), Cassin's hawk eagle (Spizaetus africanus), Pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis), West African hinged tortoise (Kinixys erosa), Ogilby's duiker (Cephalophus ogilbyi), Mount Nimba otter shrew (Micropotamogale lamottei), and the Golden cat (Profelis aurata).

Bird species include endemics such as the Gola malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni), Black-capped rufous warbler (Bathmocercus cerviniventris), Little green woodpecker (Campethera maculosa), and the Rufous fishing-owl (Scotopelia ussheri).
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Pan troglodytes Young Chimpanzees resting.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

Featured species

The White-throated Guenon (Cercopithecus erythrogaster), also known as the Red-bellied Monkey and the Red-bellied Guenon, is a diurnal primate that lives on trees of rainforests or tropical areas of Nigeria and Benin.

It was once considered extinct due to constant hunting for the fur of its unique red belly and white front legs. Though a small group was found near the Niger River in 1988, this monkey is still endangered. Females giving birth to one offspring and man-made threats are two main factors responsible for its decreasing population. Today, its territory is protected and regarded as a holy land, where hunting and logging is restricted.

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Threats

These forests have been severely reduced by logging, fires, clearing for agriculture, and mining activities. Mt. Nimba contains massive deposits of high-grade iron ore, making it the target of extensive mining operations. Intensive hunting coupled with a shrinking habitat has significantly reduced wildlife populations.
Timber awaiting export to Europe, Abidjan, Ivory Coast. / ©: WWF-Canon / Adam MARKHAM
Timber awaiting export to Europe, Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
© WWF-Canon / Adam MARKHAM

WWF's work

WWF designated the Guinean moist forests, as one of its Global Ecoregions critical for conservation. The Tai National Park in Côte d'Ivoire, a World Heritage Site, is the single-largest tract of undisturbed tropical rainforest in West Africa. The survival of the forest has been seriously threatened by the activities of slash-and-burn farmers, poachers, timber companies, and illegal gold miners.

In response, WWF is working with partners to establish the "Autonomous Project for the Conservation of Tai National Park". The ultimate goal of this project is to ensure the long-term conservation of the Tai National Park ecosystem.

WWF is also working on a programme aimed at the promotion of sustainable forest management in Western and Central Africa by setting up a widely accepted regional programme of forest certification and improving long-term access to the markets of timber-consuming countries of the EU.

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