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Vegetation Zones in Nigeria

Specific Vegetation Zones in Nigeria

Vegetation usually depends on the climate zones of the country. Vegetation belts in Nigeria reflect the tight link between the vegetation and the country’s climate:

  • Rainforest
  • Fresh Water Swamp
  • Sahel Savanna
  • Short Grass Savanna
  • Guinea Savanna
  • Woodland
  • Marginal Savanna
  • Mangrove
  • Montane
  • Sudan Savanna

Below there is the map of Nigeria showing vegetation belts.


Vegetation zones in Nigeria

As mentioned in the previous lesson, Nigeria is a state of forests and savannas. Once, a significant part of the territory was covered with dense tropical rainforests. Constant cutting and burning out of crop plots led to a drastic reduction in the area of forests that now occupy about one-third of the territory. Let’s look at the various vegetation zones below:


High-mountainous multi-tiered tropical forests have been preserved mainly along the right bank of the lower reaches of the River Niger and in the valley of the River Cross. Trees with a height of 40-45 m form the first upper tier. Such giants with powerful tree-shaped roots, diverging from the base of the trunk, are not afraid of the elemental forces of nature.

Nigerian Rainforest

The trees of the second and third tiers are especially densely strewn with epiphytes, intertwined with lianas that rush towards the sun. The rays of the sun almost do not penetrate through the dense green canopy formed by woody crowns.

In the north of the forest zone the annual amount of precipitation does not exceed 1600 mm, the conditions for forest growth are deteriorating. Relative humidity is lower here, and soils are drier. Some trees shed their leaves in the dry season. These are the so-called dry tropical forests. They are also multi-tiered, but less dense, the underbrush is difficult to access. Still, further to the north, the forests are becoming sparser, and at last the expanses of the savanna open.

Guinea Savanna

Almost half of the territory of Nigeria is occupied by a moist, so-called Guinean high-grass savanna. Precipitation pe year here is 1000-1400 mm on the average. The plots of these savannas alternate with the park savannas and border the banks of the rivers with gallery forests. The grass reaches a great height, in which not only a man, but also a large animal can hide. Among the savanna vegetation in Nigeria, various types of so-called elephant grass predominate.

Guinea Savanna in Nigeria

Groups of trees rise above the grassy sea: drought-resistant kaya, isoberlinia, mitragina. Some of them have trunks twisted from annual fires. In the first half of the dry season the savanna looks lifeless, the trees stand bare. In the middle of this season, a smoke screen rises over the savanna: the dry grass burns, which is burned from year to year with the purpose of preparing the land for crops. With the first rains appear juicy shoots of young grass and green leaves. Nigerian savanna awakens.

Sudan Savanna

North of the zone of the Guinea savanna the amount of precipitation decreases to 500-1000 mm and the dry period lasts more than six-seven months, and a zone of Sudanese savanna with a dense but low grass cover is located.

A distinctive appearance of the landscape is given by different types of acacia with an umbellate crown and thorny bushes. Camels willingly eat young shoots of these bushes, while leaves are used in folk medicine.

Sudan Savanna

It is difficult to imagine the Sudanese savanna without baobabs. Next to them, you can meet the palms of doom, the whale, the whitish acacia, which sheds the leaves in the wet season, and during the draught is covered with fresh leaves serving as food for animals.

Generally, natural conditions of the Sudanese savanna are favorable for the progress of agriculture and animal farming. Herds of sheep, cattle, and goats graze on vast pastures. Relative to the dryness of the climate, there is no tsetse fly here.

Sahel Savanna

The main characteristic of Sahel savanna is desert vegetation. The annual precipitation is poor, and the wet season lasts 3 to 4 months, so the vegetation of this zone is rare and the present grasses are extremely short. In this vegetation zone such plants as Ngibbi, Acacia raddiana, Leptadenia, and African myrrh are growing.

Sahel Savanna


The Montane zone is situated in high-mountain areas. Montane vegetation in Nigeria (mountain and plateaus vegetation) is not very developed due to the reason of low average temperatures and the significant impact of animals and man. The Jos plateau is one of the highest points in Nigeria. This is grassland zone but the slopes are covered by forests. This zone is potentially perfect for growing of rich crops of different vegetables and small grain crops, and just a good place for pastures.

Montane zone

Mangrove Zone

Mangrove vegetation depends on the coastal location of the zone, constant influence of saltish sea water. The soil in the Mangrove zone is extremely poor and contains salt. The places, which were stabilized and are non-salt-marsh are suitable for growing of rice.

Mangrove Zone

Nigerian Vegetation and Fauna


Fauna is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora. Flora, fauna and other forms of life such as fungi are collectively referred to as biota.

The vegetation of Nigeria is diverse, in the far north and east, where there is almost no rain, the so-called Sahel (deserted) extends. There is almost no green vegetation there. On the other side of Lake Chad, on the contrary, reeds and papyrus grow thickly. In the Nigerian savanna and forests, various animals affect.

Nigerian Fauna

About 200 years ago, it was possible to meet here herds of rhinoceroses, giraffes, elephants and many others, now their number has sharply decreased. Large herds can be found only in reserves and parks, especially on the Bauchi plateau, in the Yankari reserve.

In savannas, the most common large animal is the leopard. Of the small – many hyenas and jackals. Antelope is up to 3 dozen of species. In the forests the antelope dik-dik is found, its weight is about 3 kg. Farther away from the inhabited places we can find a scaly anteater and large buffalo herds graze.

Tropical forests are perfect environment for climbing animals, it concerns monkeys, many different kinds of monkeys, baboons, lemurs. Even gorilla and chimpanzee survived. Also, hippos live in the Lake of Chad, and a dwarf hippopotamus inhabits the delta of the Niger. In the rivers, a very rare mammal is found – it is a sea cow. In Nigerian waters, you can meet crocodiles, especially in the tributary of Kaduna.

In Nigeria, there is a great variety of birds, many hoopoes, parrots, and red woodpeckers. Also, many scoter, majestic flamingos, kingfishers, and lazy pelicans. There are many birds of prey, especially black African kites, there is also a bird-secretary, vultures, hawks, a rhinoceros bird. Nigeria is “rich” with different insects.

Importance of Vegetation

The most precious vegetation in Nigerian forests are kaya and sapel, iroko and opepe, agba and obche. All of them produce ornamental and construction timber. In the depressions of the relief, on the shores of freshwater lagoons, on the internal marshes and in the delta of the Niger (where salt water does not penetrate), the appearance of the forest is different. The trees there are lower and are not so diverse.

The leaves of the candelabra-shaped pandanus are a perfect material for weaving mats and baskets. Leaves of raffia palm are roofing material, trunks go to rafters. Rafia gives fiber – piassava, going to the manufacture of brushes and paint brushes. The juice of the wine palm is used to produce wine.

Vegetation reflects environmental conditions, so we need to be very attentive to the changes, especially radical ones. Natural resources and natural vegetation of Nigeria are favorable for economic activity. Soil and climatic conditions contribute to the growing of cocoa, peanuts, oil palm, cotton and many tropical crops. Nigerian rivers and lakes are full of fish. In fact, nature has blessed Nigeria immensely.

Vegetation reflects environmental conditions, so we need to be very attentive to the changes, especially radical ones.

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  • Hussaini Idris

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