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#InternationalDayofForests: Exploring 9 biggest forests in Africa

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#InternationalDayofForests: Exploring 9 biggest forests in Africa

In Africa, forests and woodlands occupy about 21.8% of the continent’s land area and account for about 16.8% of the global forest cover.

Forests have never been more important to human existence than they are in this age of climate change and pollution, and this is because they are one of the most important solutions to addressing the effects of climate change.

They act to balance the climate, especially during this global fight against climate change. For one, they help to regulate ecosystems and protect biodiversity among other benefits. Secondly, they are a solution for greenhouse gas emissions, acting as carbon sinks.

Approximately 2.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide which are about one-third of the CO2 released from burning fossil fuels, is absorbed by forests every year.

No doubt, forests and other natural ecosystems are the best and most cost-effective carbon-capture solution, and as countries seek to meet emissions targets, protecting this resource that nature has so generously bestowed on mankind will help us avoid more than one-third of global emissions.

We can only achieve this when we end forest conversion, preserve the forest carbon sink, and restore forests.

To celebrate #InternationalDayofForests, we will be taking you through 9 of Africa’s biggest forests and what they offer nature.

Congo Forest

Covering about 695,000 square miles, the Congo Basin is Africa’s largest contiguous forest and the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, after the Amazon rainforest.

This swamp-struck tropical forest supports some 10,000 kinds of plants and a huge variety of animals such as African forest elephants, forest buffalo, chimpanzees, bonobos, and a number of subspecies of gorillas.

The Congo Basin rainforest covers portions of Gabon, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Equatorial Guinea.

Budongo Forest Reserve

At 825 square km, the Budongo Forest Reserve which is located in the districts of Hoima, Masindi, and Buliisa in Western Uganda, is the Biggest Mahogany forest found in the whole of East Africa.

This medium-altitude damp semi-deciduous verdant forest is home to rhinos, lions, leopards, buffaloes, hippopotami, cheetah, elephants, giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees, and birds.

Mau Forest

With an area of 273,300 hectares (675,000 acres), Mau forest is one of the biggest forests in East Africa.

It is the largest water catchment area in Kenya and numerous rivers originate from the forest, including Southern Ewaso Ng’iro, Sondu River, Mara River, and Njoro River. These rivers feed Lake Victoria, Lake Nakuru, and Lake Natron Westerns slopes of the Mau.

Cross-Niger Transition Forests

Covering an area of 20,700 sq km, the Cross-Niger transition forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of southeastern Nigeria.

It is located between the Niger River on the west and the Cross River on the east – the Niger River separates the Cross-Niger transition forests from the Nigerian lowland forests to the west.

The forest is home to a number of wildlife including drill monkeys, African buffalo, cheetahs, warthogs, hippos, caracals, leopards, lions, baboons, elephants, and more than 900 species of birds.

Arabuko Sokoke Forest

With a size of 420 km2, Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the largest remaining section of dry coastal forest found in Eastern and Southern Africa.

It stretches to the headwaters of the mighty Sabaki River, and occasionally herds of elephants pass through the forest en route to the river. The forest is also home to monkeys and many smaller mammals.

Over 260 species of birds have been recorded in the forest including the six globally threatened ones: sokoke scops owl, sokoke pipit, east coast akalat, spotted ground thrush, amani sunbird, and clarke’s weaver.

Newlands Forest

Covering an area of 400 hectares, Newlands Forest is a conservancy area on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, beside the suburb of Newlands, Cape Town.

Wildlife in the forest includes chaffinch, cape white-eye, grassbird, southern double-collared sunbird, African black swift, alpine swift, white-rumped swift, black saw-wing swallow, greater striped swallow, African olive pigeon, cape canary, monkeys, African wild dog, and ground hornbill.

Ongoye Forest

Covering an area of 4000 hectares, Ongoye Forest is situated on a granite ridge, inland from the town of Mtunzini in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The vegetation in Ongoye Forest includes natal olinia, natal palm-nut, giant umzimbeet, forest mangosteen, forest water berry, Giant Pock Ironwood, Zulu bead-string, Natal Krantz Ash, Natal White Stinkwood, and the Pondo Fig.

Some of the wildlife found there include woodward’s barbet, crowned eagle, yellow streaked bulbul, spotted thrush, red bush squirrel, dwarf chameleons, butterfly, ongoye centipede, and bronze-naped pigeon.

Karura Forest

At 1,041 hectares, Karura Forest Reserve is one of the largest urban gazetted forests in the world.

The forest sits on million-year-old Late Tertiary volcanic rocks and contains nearly all the 605 species of wildlife found in Nairobi including three types of antelope.

Five perennial tributaries of the Nairobi River pass through the forest running roughly west to east and cutting through the gently undulating landscape.

Mount Cameroon and Bioko Montane Forests

Covering an area of 400 square miles, Mount Cameroon and Bioko Montane forests are located in a volcanic chain that extends northeast along the border between Cameroon and Nigeria, and southwest towards the Guinea islands of São Tomé, Príncipe, and Annobo.

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