#ForestsSince2000:  Nigeria

#ForestsSince2000: Nigeria

Content series connects global forest changes to conservation efforts by organization on the ground to create awareness and drive action

 a. Intro

The #ForestsSince2000 series is an effort by Zooterra to analyze deforestation at a country level and its relation to forest and biodiversity protection efforts by organizations on the ground.   

Under the United Nations umbrella, countries around the world committed to protect 17% of the Earth’s land area and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020(4).  Although we are close to achieving those levels on paper, in reality, the degradation and deforestation of protected (and unprotected) areas continues unabated at a global level.  

But not all countries are created equal so we are taking a closer look at countries around the world and making this real at a local level.  Let’s take a look at Nigeria!

b. Nigeria Analysis

Since 2000, based on the forest loss data and our analysis (5)(6)(7), Nigeria has lost a total rainforest area of 790K acres or roughly the size of the U.S. state of Rhode Island or the land area of the country of Luxembourg.  The main causes for the loss are logging and agriculture. The country had one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world in the last 30 years and only 5% of the country is still covered by rainforests (11M acres).

13% of the country’s surface is designated as a protected area, which is below the UN target of 17% of protected land.  Protected areas face the troubling fact that their rate of rainforest loss since 2000 is higher (9%) than that of non-protected areas (6%). Nigeria is also home to vast dry forests which cannot be easily measured through satellite imaging.  Based on partners observation on the ground, these dry forests are also being lost at a rapid rate.  

You can see these forest changes on this posts' main image.  Dark borders indicate Nigeria’s boundaries and the shapes within are protected areas.  Bright green areas represents the rainforest cover and the red dots represent rainforest loss since 2000.  

This assessment shows a concerning picture for forests in Nigeria.  It is critical that the country enforces protection of the remaining areas if there is any hope to save the remaining forests and biodiversity in the country.

c. Efforts of Network Members on the Ground

The forest situation in Nigeria makes the work of our partners extremely important. We will touch on the work of two organizations: African Forest Elephant Foundation and Africa Nature Investors Foundation.  These organizations are in the set up stage of their projects and therefore, the #ForestsSince2000 analysis shows the potential for impact of their work.  

African Forest Elephant Foundation @Omo Forest Reserve 

AFEF is working to limit the impact of deforestation at Omo Forest Reserve by creating a Wildlife Sanctuary within the reserve.  The Omo Forest Reserve contains some of the last remaining forests in South West Nigeria. This forest contains a crucial population of the last forest elephants in Nigeria, the critically endangered Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee and other important wildlife.  

Image caption:  bright green area on the left represents the rainforest cover in 2019.  Red dots on the right represent rainforest loss since 2000.

As you can see in the satellite images above, the limited remaining forest cover at Omo is being chipped away throughout the area.  By creating an officially designated 55,000 hectare Wildlife Sanctuary within the reserve, this project aims to turn the tide of deforestation from these developments in the Omo Forest Reserve and give a change to wildlife and forests to recover.  Learn more here.

Africa Nature Investors Foundation @Gashaka-Gumti National Park

Africa Nature Investors Foundation is working to protect the Gashaka-Gumti National Park, a highly biodiverse area of 7,000 km2.  It hosts one of the largest population of the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee in West Africa, some of the most extensive montane rainforests in the region, and the tallest mountain in Nigeria, mount Chappal Waddi.  Illegal logging, cattle grazing and bushmeat poaching are an increasing threat to the the park and there is now an urgent need to act to prevent future damage.

Image caption:  bright green area on the left represents the rainforest cover in 2019.  Red dots on the right represent rainforest loss since 2000. Rainforest have been protected by their mountainous terrain location but dry forests in the north of the park which are not detectable by satellite image (5) have been decimated by logging 

Africa Nature Investors Foundation is executing on an innovative financing model for a sustainable Gashaka.  As a first step, the Foundation has started to secure the park and is developing a business plan to make the park self sufficient within 5 years.  The plan considers potential sources of income including eco-tourism, processing and export of shea butter, electricity generation from park rivers and carbon offsetting.  Learn more here.

Supporting the work of these and other non-governmental organizations in Nigeria is of the utmost importance in the short and long term in order for Nigeria to preserve its natural heritage and for the world to experience it in the years to come.


Sources & Notes

(1) Convention on Biological Diversity, 2020 Aichi targets 

(2) Hansen/UMD/Google/USGS/NASA Tree Cover Loss and Gain Area (2000-2019)

(3) IUCN / UNEP 

(4) 50% tree cover threshold (only areas with more than 50% tree cover considered forested)