The tropical rainforest environments are characterized in their natural condition by a continuous growing season. Neither moisture shortages nor temperature extremes exist that require plant dormancy in these environments. Average monthly temperatures almost always exceed 17°C (63°F), and the soils are essentially free of periods of moisture shortages. Although most African rainforest areas experience brief periods of moisture deficit, their intensity is never severe enough to prevent plant growth as sufficient soil moisture storage allows plant growth to continue during these “drier” periods. African rainforests are largely concentrated in Zaire and Gabon, with other areas along the coast and periphery of West Africa as far as Sierra Leone (Table 4.1) (Fig. 4.1). Minor areas of tropical mountain rainforest still exist in the mountainous areas of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Ethiopia (Ch. 7). The greatest concentration of forested land within Africa occurs within the rainforest environment. The lower percentage of forest cover north of the equator in part reflects the clearing of rainforests for agriculture in West Africa (Fig. 4.2). The natural extent of tropical rainforests prior to land clearing. E, Lake Tana; K, Lake Kivu; T, Lake Tanganyika; V, Lake Victoria. https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9780203838914/863a4a5f-7379-4cdf-8601-470261c0460f/content/fig4_1_B.tif" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"/> (Modified from UNESCO 1978.) Distribution of forested land as a percentage of the total land area in 5° latitudinal zones within Africa. https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9780203838914/863a4a5f-7379-4cdf-8601-470261c0460f/content/fig4_2_B.tif" xmlns:xlink="https://www.w3.org/1999/xlink"/> (Modified from UNESCO 1978.) Approximate area of evergreen rainforests in Africa (in millions of hectares): 1981 estimates. https://www.niso.org/standards/z39-96/ns/oasis-exchange/table">



Central African Republic


Equatorial Guinea




Ivory Coast




People’s Republic of Congo




Note: Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, and Sierra Leone have small areas of forest remaining.