Country Profiles

Nigeria - Country Profile

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Nigeria spans different climatic and ecological zones and therefore occupies a unique geographic position in Africa. The diversity of the country’s natural ecosystems ranges from semi-arid savanna to mountain forests, rich seasonal floodplain environments, rainforests, vast freshwater swamp forests and diverse coastal vegetation. Nigeria’s Niger Delta contains the largest tract of mangrove in Africa. Variable climatic conditions and physical features have endowed Nigeria with some of the richest flora and fauna on the continent. The economy is characterized by a large rural-based traditional sector. Although Nigeria derives about 80% of its external earnings from the oil sector, the agricultural sector contributes about 38% towards the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). About 70% of the population derives its means of livelihood from agriculture. While the commercial value of biological diversity in Nigeria exceeds the cost of conservation measures by more than $3 billion (according to 1993 values), biodiversity conservation has not been recognized as feasible investment in Nigeria’s economic development and, consequently, natural resources valuation has not been fully incorporated into national economic planning. In 2001, it was estimated that conservation costs to Nigeria were about 3.8% of the GDP, while the aggregate contribution of biodiversity to the GDP was about 46%. The benefit of biodiversity to Nigeria is over $8 billion per annum. Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are used for food, medicines, oil, resin, tannin, household equipment, fuel wood, furniture and building materials. Subsistence rural dwellers are continuing to exploit these products for income generation.

Most species that were originally common in Nigeria are becoming rare. The forests in the Cross River State in southeastern Nigeria are known to be a hotspot for amphibian biodiversity. Nigeria is also known as a global hotspot for primate species, with a great diversity found especially in the Gulf of Guinea forests of Cross River State. The most endangered gorilla subspecies on earth, the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli), with an estimated population of less than 250 individuals, is found only in a couple of protected areas in Cross River State. Nigeria’s plants include many species with traditional value as food items, medicines and for various domestic uses; a number of these plants have been catalogued in various specific areas of the country. Nigeria is also an epicentre for diverse wild varieties of important crop plants. Although more adapted to the environment and climate, a number of these wild crops and their relatives are being replaced with new varieties/cultivars and therefore threatened with extinction. Available evidence shows that biodiversity is being lost at a disturbing rate in Nigeria.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main causes of habitat destruction are linked to farming methods (e.g. agricultural intensification practices, including the use of fertilizers and pesticides; increased land drainage; channelization of water courses and the eutrophication of water bodies; reduction in the extent of hedgerows and the loss of farm ponds). Other causes are bush burning, fuel wood collection, logging, grazing and gathering. Also, a large impetus for the massive deforestation of natural ecosystems is associated with the introduction of cash crops (e.g. cocoa, coffee, rubber, cotton, groundnut, oil palm) into the farming system in the 1900s. Habitat losses have led to serious impacts on wildlife population. The indiscriminate hunting of wildlife for food to compliment subsistence farming and bush burning has led to biodiversity loss and ecosystem depletion. Fishing is also a major industry in Nigeria however is currently unsustainably practiced owing to insufficient regulations and lack of their proper enforcement.

With a population of over 140 million people, Nigeria comprises nearly a quarter of the total population of sub-Saharan Africa. The high rate of population growth is crucial among the set of factors that degrade the environment and threaten biodiversity in the country. The high intensity of logging and the illegal exploitation of tree species continue to pose serious threats to the country’s forest resources. The direct causes of biodiversity loss are associated with economic policies, the rising demand for forest products, cultural practices, poor law enforcement and weak laws. Also, low budgetary allocations to the forestry sub-sector have curtailed national efforts to reforest large areas that have been deforested. Consequently, the allowable timber cuts are not replaced hence sustained yield of forests cannot be attained. Forest exploitation, vegetation clearance, dam construction and oil spill are the major causes of natural gene pool loss that is occurring in regard to several species. Notably, the largest threat to conservation of biological diversity has been identified as poverty.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Nigeria’s NBSAP was completed in 2006. It aimed to urgently establish measures to conserve dwindling resources and reduce further damage to biodiversity. An immediate concern was the regulation of the transboundary movement of living modified organisms and procedures for risk assessment and safety in the use of such organisms (Nigeria has developed a National Biosafety Framework). Nigeria’s NBSAP also emphasized integrating biodiversity conservation in the country’s economic and social development plans, with priority given to the conservation of Nigeria’s unique ecological characteristics and ecosystems (e.g. mountain, mangrove, wetlands, savanna, rain forests, transit sites for migratory species). However, NBSAP implementation has been constrained by various factors, including a poor understanding of the importance of biological diversity to the national economy, lack of coordination in implementing actions and compliance monitoring, weak implementing institutions and legislative framework, among other factors. Activities are currently underway to revise the NBSAP which will be formulated using a decentralized approach. In addition, each action plan will represent a sectoral development policy and actions that integrate biodiversity.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

An important obstacle to wildlife conservation was linked to the fact that conservation areas included the traditional hunting grounds of the communities living around these areas, thereby denying them their hunting rights. To improve this situation, the Nigerian Government has ensured the participation of Nigerians in wildlife enforcement, while limiting conservation to specific areas that does not conflict with the interests of the local communities. Further, all revenues earned from hunting licenses and proceeds from the sale of wildlife trophies are being ploughed back into conservation activities.

CITES licenses are issued to ensure that the export of fauna and flora does not impact on the population of the species concerned. There have been cases of breaches of CITES procedures by individuals however, unfortunately, no capacity exists for detecting these breaches. Invasive alien species that threaten biodiversity and their habitats by displacing original species, spreading diseases, competing for resources, parasitism, have been identified. Nigeria has ongoing invasive control projects and programmes in place and has achieved some level of success in implementing actions to address these threats.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The country has developed various strategies and programmes for the sound and sustainable management of biodiversity, promoting sustainable and adequate levels of funding, and integrated human development programmes that address issues such as income generation, increased local control of resources, strengthening of local institutions and capacity-building, and greater involvement of community-based and non-governmental organizations and the lower tiers of government as delivery mechanisms. Achievement of some of these strategies has been realized through an intervention project known as the Local Empowerment and Environmental Management Program (LEEMP), designed to empower the rural populace in carrying out actions that protect the environment. Also, the Department of Forestry in the Federal Ministry of Environment and the State Ministries of the Environment have set up various initiatives to manage and use wetlands and arid zones in the country in a sustainable manner, guiding local communities in this regard in accordance with the LEEMP.

The major constraints identified in conserving biodiversity comprise a dearth of trained and skilled manpower and appropriate technologies, as well as inadequate funding for implementing various biodiversity programmes. In response, the curricula in relevant departments of some universities and institutions of higher learning have been redesigned to address training in biodiversity conservation for professionals in the country. Some activities have also been conducted in regard to legislation and institutional arrangements and mainstreaming biodiversity into national programmes. Nigeria has integrated biodiversity concerns into its environmental policy, but additional funding is required as is a review of funding strategies for biodiversity conservation to ensure adequate financial allocation to the Federal Ministry of Environment and other relevant establishments. In this regard, the Federal Government has instructed that a major aspect of the Ecological Fund be directed towards afforestation programmes. Trust funds are used to finance activities for the Ondo, Oyo and Cross River states, while other funding is obtained from multilateral agencies, NGOs, CBOs and the private sector. Nigeria has some scientific and technical expertise in biodiversity conservation however it is not enough and requires greater coordination.

Some private organizations, particularly in the petroleum sector, are currently incorporating conservation programs in their operations. Public agencies are equally making efforts to mainstream biodiversity conservation in their operations. The Federal Ministry of Environment is at an advanced stage in establishing an environment desk in each relevant agency and institution in order to ensure compliance with mainstreaming conservation and other environmental issues in their programs.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The existing Biodiversity Action Plan established a framework for the continuous assessment and monitoring of biodiversity and a system for measuring the achievement of the stated targets. Environmental monitoring of conservation plots, agricultural lands, wildlife domestication, aquaculture, and conservation of medicinal plants is also being carried out. Nigeria has embarked on a review of biodiversity-related laws which is being conducted through a consultative process, involving the Federal Ministry of Justice (FMJ), the Law Review Commission and the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the National Assembly and other relevant stakeholders.