Upper Guinea forests

Country/Territory Côte d'Ivoire,Ghana,Guinea,Liberia,Sierra Leone
Area 340,000 km2
Altitude 0 - 1000m
Priority critical
Habitat loss major
Knowledge incomplete

General characteristics

One of Africa's two major lowland rain forest regions (see White 1983), the Upper Guinea forest originally covered most of Sierra Leone, south-east Guinea, Liberia, southern Ivory Coast and south-west Ghana, but much of this area is now deforested. The restricted-range species are mainly confined to the lowland rain forests of Upper Guinea, although one ranges up to 1,550 m in the Guinea highlands.

Restricted-range species

The distribution and status of the birds of the Upper Guinea forests are generally rather poorly known, although recent survey work has generated much new information (Allport 1991, Demey and Fishpool 1991, Francis et al. 1992, Thompson 1993, Wood 1993, Atkinson et al. 1994b, Fishpool et al. 1994, Gartshore et al. 1995). Phyllastrephus leucolepis, Melaenornis annamarulae and Malimbus ballmanni were all described as new to science in the past 25 years, and at least two undescribed bird species are suspected to occur in the EBA (Allport 1991).

All the species endemic to the Upper Guinea forest are here considered to have restricted ranges, because, although the forest originally covered several hundred thousand square kilometres, this area was already much reduced when ornithological exploration began, and few (if any) of the species appear to occur throughout the region (see Hall and Moreau 1970, Snow 1978). Many of these species are known from scattered records in most countries of the EBA, but Phyllastrephus leucolepis, Melaenornis annamarulae and Malimbus ballmanni (see Gatter and Gardner 1993) appear to be limited to the wet/dry mosaic forests in the west, in western Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea; Phyllastrephus leucolepis is only known from a single locality in Liberia, where it has been found in the transitional zone between evergreen and semi-deciduous tropical rain forest (Allport 1991).

Prinia leontica has rather different habitat requirements from the other species, being associated with gallery forest in the Guinea highlands in the EBA's north-west, at 500-1,550 m. Two of the restricted-range species appear not to be entirely confined to the EBA: Criniger olivaceus is known by one nineteenth-century record from Senegal and anomalous records from south-west Mali (Lamarche 1980-1981) and Illadopsis rufescens has been recorded from Senegal and Togo (Dowsett and Forbes-Watson 1993). Note that the species limits and distribution of Bleda eximia follow those of Chappuis and Erard (1993).

Species IUCN Category
White-breasted Guineafowl (Agelastes meleagrides) VU
Rufous Fishing-owl (Scotopelia ussheri) VU
Brown-cheeked Hornbill (Bycanistes cylindricus) VU
Western Wattled Cuckooshrike (Lobotos lobatus) VU
White-necked Rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus) VU
Sierra Leone Prinia (Schistolais leontica) EN
Sharpe's Apalis (Apalis sharpii) NT
Black-headed Rufous-warbler (Bathmocercus cerviniventris) DD
Green-tailed Bristlebill (Bleda eximius) NT
Yellow-bearded Greenbul (Criniger olivaceus) VU
(Phyllastrephus leucolepis) NR
Rufous-winged Illadopsis (Illadopsis rufescens) NT
Copper-tailed Starling (Hylopsar cupreocauda) NT
Nimba Flycatcher (Melaenornis annamarulae) VU
Gola Malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni) NT

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country
CI002 Sangbe Mountain National Park Côte d'Ivoire
CI003 Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve Côte d'Ivoire
CI004 Gueoule and Glo Mountain Forest Reserves Côte d'Ivoire
CI005 Peko Mountain National Park Côte d'Ivoire
CI006 Marahoue National Park Côte d'Ivoire
CI007 Bossematie Forest Reserve Côte d'Ivoire
CI008 Cavally and Goin - Debe Forest Reserves Côte d'Ivoire
CI009 Lamto Ecological Research Station Côte d'Ivoire
CI010 Mabi Forest reserve Côte d'Ivoire
CI011 Parc National de Taï et Réserve de faune du N'Zo Côte d'Ivoire
CI012 Mopri Forest Reserve Côte d'Ivoire
CI013 Yapo and Mambo Forest Reserves Côte d'Ivoire
CI014 Azagny National Park Côte d'Ivoire
GH001 Ankasa Resource Reserve - Nini-Sushien National Park Ghana
GH002 Atewa Range Forest Reserve Ghana
GH003 Bia National Park and Resource Reserve Ghana
GH004 Boin Tano Forest Reserve Ghana
GH005 Boin River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH006 Bosomtwe Range Forest Reserve Ghana
GH007 Bura River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH008 Cape Three Points Forest Reserve Ghana
GH009 Dadieso Forest Reserve Ghana
GH010 Draw River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH011 Ebi River Shelterbelt Forest Reserve Ghana
GH012 Fure River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH013 Jema-Asemkrom Forest Reserve Ghana
GH014 Kakum National Park - Assin Attandaso Resource Reserve Ghana
GH015 Mamiri Forest Reserve Ghana
GH016 Mount Afadjato - Agumatsa Range forest Ghana
GH017 Nsuensa Forest Reserve Ghana
GH018 Pra-Sushien Forest Reserve Ghana
GH019 Subri River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH020 Tano-Anwia Forest Reserve Ghana
GH021 Tano-Ehuro Forest Reserve Ghana
GH022 Tano-Nimiri Forest Reserve Ghana
GH023 Tano-Offin Forest Reserve Ghana
GH024 Yoyo River Forest Reserve Ghana
GH038 Kyabobo National Park Ghana
GN010 Gangan Foret Classe Guinea
GN014 Kounounkan Guinea
GN016 Massif du Ziama Guinea
GN017 Monts Nimba (part of Mount Nimba transboundary AZE) Guinea
GN018 Diécké Guinea
LR001 Wologizi mountains Liberia
LR002 Wonegizi mountains Liberia
LR003 Lofa-Gola-Mano Complex Liberia
LR004 Nimba mountains Liberia
LR006 Zwedru Liberia
LR007 Cestos - Senkwen Liberia
LR008 Sapo Liberia
LR009 Grebo Liberia
SL003 Loma Mountains Non-hunting Forest Reserve Sierra Leone
SL004 Tingi Hills Non-hunting Forest Reserve Sierra Leone
SL006 Kangari Hills Non-hunting Forest Reserve Sierra Leone
SL007 Western Area Peninsula Forest National Park Sierra Leone
SL009 Kambui Hills Forest Reserve Sierra Leone
SL010 Gola Forests Sierra Leone

Threat and conservation

Allport (1991) estimated that c.77% of the EBA's original forest has been lost, mainly as a result of logging, agricultural encroachment and mining; the less than 80,000 km2 of forest which remains is being rapidly degraded and fragmented. Current threats are logging and agricultural encroachment, and rates of forest loss are probably still increasing, with most forest outside protected areas (including forest reserves) likely to disappear within the next 25 years (N. D. Burgess in litt. 1993). In Liberia, the civil war continues to devastate the remaining forests and threatens Sapo National Park, as uncontrolled logging for export has been carried out to pay for troops and arms, and food shortages have led to large-scale hunting for food (M. E. J. Gore in litt. 1993). Eleven restricted-range birds are threatened, principally because of the continuing loss of their habitat. A more-widespread threatened species which occurs in the EBA is Yellow-footed Honeyguide Melignomon eisentrauti (classified as Vulnerable).

The protected areas within the EBA are concentrated in the two most important areas of surviving forest (see IUCN 1992b). Those in south-east Liberia and south-west Ivory Coast include Taï National Park (the largest and best-preserved area of Upper Guinea forest: Francis et al. 1992, Gartshore et al. 1995), Marahoué National Park, Yapo forest and N'zo Fauna Reserve in Ivory Coast (R. Demey in litt. 1993), and Grebo, Gio and Krahn–Bassa National Forests and Sapo National Park in Liberia. Some forests of south-east Sierra Leone and north-west Liberia are protected in Gola Forest Reserves in Sierra Leone and the Gola-Kpelle-Belle National Forest in Liberia (Allport 1991). The forests on Mount Nimba are protected in strict nature reserves in Guinea and Ivory Coast, but the Liberian section of this mountain is unprotected. In Sierra Leone, Western Area, Loma Mountain, Tingi Hills and Kangari Hills Forest Reserves and Tiwai Island Game Sanctuary are important for several restricted-range species, including Prinia leontica which occurs in the Loma Mountain and Tingi Hills reserves (P. Wood in litt. 1993; see Davies and Palmer 1989).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Upper Guinea forests. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 31/01/2023.