The Donga river basin forests are located on the slopes and at the foot of the Mambilla Plateau, south-west of Gashaka-Gumti National Park (NG002). They include Baissa, Amboi and Bissaula River Forest Reserves as well as some areas of unprotected forests near the villages of Akwabe and Akoforo. The area is lowland forest beside the Donga river, south of Buru village and about 10 km from the border with Cameroon. The terrain is hilly and rocky. Derived savanna occurs in disturbed parts, but more forest survives in the east and south of the site. Dominant tree species include Brachystegia sp., Khaya grandifoliola, Erythrophleum guineensis, Tetrapleura tetraptera, Pterygota macrocarpa, Cleistopholis patens and Garcinia kola. Amongst the many species of lianas present are Entada pursaetha, Laccosperma opacum and Piper guineense. Rainfall is heavy and persistent due to the influence of the neighbouring Mambilla Plateau and the Cameroon mountains, but no figures are available. Soils are well drained, brown sandy loams, containing limited organic material.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. Over 190 bird species have been recorded, including three of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome (A04); see Table 3. The site is the only one known in Nigeria for Smithornis sharpei. Other nationally uncommon species include Pteronetta hartlaubii, Terathopius ecaudatus, Stephanoaetus coronatus, Indicator maculatus, Muscicapa sethsmithi, Nectarinia johannae and Mandingoa nitidula.
Non-bird biodiversity: The mammals Syncerus caffer (LR/cd) and Pan troglodytes (VU) occur.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Although some parts are Forest Reserves, the majority of the area does not enjoy any legal protection. Much of the easily accessible forest has been logged since the 1970s and, in some areas, extensive habitat degradation has occurred. While the less accessible areas remain relatively intact, the northern forests have been split into three compartments, all earmarked for commercial logging, including parts of the Forest Reserves. One of these areas has already been virtually destroyed. The remaining forests are in the hands of the local communities. Land-use includes subsistence agriculture, fruit collection, hunting and grazing. Cocoa-farming and slash-and-burn agriculture are increasing and pose a threat, as does unregulated hunting. There is, however, strong local opposition to hunting by outsiders without permission and locals are keen to prevent fishing with chemicals or explosives. A community-based participatory conservation project began in 1999 in the area, managed by NCF in conjunction with the RSPB, WWF-UK and DFID.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Donga river basin forests. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 12/04/2021.