|Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests|
Jungle near Oyala in Equatorial Guinea
Map of Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests
|Biome||Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests|
|Borders||Central African mangroves, Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests, Northwestern Congolian lowland forests and Western Congolian forest-savanna mosaic|
|Area||189,700 km2 (73,200 sq mi)|
|Conservation status||relatively stable|
|Protected||43,768 km² (23%)|
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The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests, also known as the Congolian coastal forests, are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of central Africa, covering hills, plains, and mountains of the Atlantic coast of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, Angola, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
This is rich forest home to large mammals such as western gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants and African buffalo, as well as many small mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. As well as chimpanzees and gorillas other primates include black colobus monkeys and mandrills.
The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests cover an area of 189,700 square kilometers (73,200 sq mi), extending along the Atlantic coast from low hills in the north to mountains further south and east. The forests cover Cameroon's southwest corner, mainland Equatorial Guinea (Río Muni) and the coastal plains of Gabon. A narrow strip extends southeast through Republic of the Congo and the eastern portion the Cabinda enclave of Angola to just north of the Congo River in Bas-Congo province of Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests form the southernmost part of the Lower Guinean forests complex, a region of coastal moist broadleaf forests that extend north and west into southwestern Cameroon and southern Nigeria. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the west, and pockets of the Central African mangroves can be found along the brackish river mouths and estuaries along the coast. The region extends south from the Sanaga River in Cameroon down to just north of the River Congo, with a number of other large rivers running through. To the east, the coastal forests transition to the Northwestern Congolian lowland forests, part of the vast Congolian forests complex that covers the Congo Basin. The Western Congolian forest-savanna mosaic bounds the Atlantic Equatorial coastal forests to the southeast.
This is a tropical ecoregion receiving high rainfall throughout the year.
Along with the neighbouring Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests ecoregion the area holds about 50% of the endemic plant life of tropical West Africa. Particularly important areas for plant life include the Monts de Cristal in Gabon and the Mayombe area on the borders of the Republic of the Congo, Angola, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The area contains a number of endemic forest mammals including sun-tailed monkey, long-footed shrew, lesser Angolan epauletted fruit bat, and African smoky mouse as well as the forest elephant and the gorillas, chimpanzees and other primates mentioned above. The forests are also rich in bird life. Endemic amphibians include the Apouh night frog (Astylosternus schioetzi), Perret's snout-burrower, Gabon dwarf clawed frog (Hymenochirus feae), Ogowe River frog (Phrynobatrachus ogoensis), and Andre's clawed frog.
Many of the animals here, including the primates, are endangered by hunting for meat or as prizes while elephants are poached for meat and for the ivory trade. Logging is a continuing threat in Cameroon, Gabon, the Republic of Congo and particularly in Equatorial Guinea. However extensive areas of forest remain and the fauna is still especially rich in the southern parts of Equatorial Guinea and in Gabon, which has designated large areas as national parkland, including Loango National Park in this ecoregion.
A 2017 assessment found that 43,768 km², or 23%, of the ecoregion is in protected areas. Protected areas include Douala Edéa Wildlife Reserve and Campo Ma'an National Park in Cameroon, Monte Alen National Park and Monte Temelón Nature Reserve in Equatorial Guinea, Crystal Mountains National Park, Loango National Park, Lope National Park, Moukalaba-Doudau National Park, and Waka National Park, and Wonga Wongue National Park in Gabon.
This is a thinly-populated region. South Region (Cameroon) is heavily forested and contains the coastal resort of Kribi and the Campo Ma'an National Park. All of mainland Equatorial Guinea (Río Muni is in this region including the port of Bata. In Gabon, as well as logging camps, the forests are inhabited by small groups of agricultural and fishing people including traditional forest dwellers such as the Bakola and Bagyeli. Gabonese towns among the coastal forests include Lambaréné, home of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, the logging base of Ndjolé, Fougamou base for visiting the Waka National Park and Gamba, oil hub but also base for visiting Loango National Park.