The Akassa forests are located in the Niger Delta in the extreme south of the country. The site comprises three low-lying blocks of lowland forest, much of which is seasonally flooded. In addition, there are large tracts of mangrove, mainly Rhizophora racemosa and Avicennia africana. The soils are alluvial, but the coastline, included within the IBA, has some stretches of sandy beaches. Expanding areas of Raphia palms and oil-palms Elaeis guineensis are evidence of anthropogenic pressures on the forests. The area receives over 4,500 mm of rain annually.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. As yet little known, 69 species, including waterbirds, have so far been recorded. Nationally uncommon species include Muscicapa infuscata and Lamprotornis purpureiceps. Sterna balaenarum, a non-breeding visitor, regularly roosts in large numbers on the beaches of the site. Indeed, the site is probably the most important roosting area for wintering Palearctic waders and terns in southern Nigeria, and is the only known breeding site for Sterna hirundo in Nigeria. Psittacus erithacus nest and roost in large numbers in the mangrove swamp-forests of the area.
Non-bird biodiversity: The turtles Demochelys coriacea (EN), Chelonia mydas (EN) and Lepidochelys olivacea (EN) have been recorded on the Akassa beaches.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Clandestine trade in the CITES-listed Psittacus erithacus is common. Nestlings are removed from nests and sold to traders from the north of the country, who in turn export them to North America, Europe and the Middle East. Parrot trappers have been reported to come from as far away as Ghana. Fishing trawlers catch turtles. Pollution from oilspills and widespread, uncontrolled logging are further threats. An NGO, Pro-Natura International, is working with the local communities, seeking to conserve what is left of the Akassa forests.