Nigeria has a large variety of vegetation zones and is considered to be one of the most interesting countries in Africa. Savannas, mountains and near-coast areas are all very beautiful, but how much do you know about vegetation in Nigeria? Keep on reading to find out more.
The type of vegetation in a country usually depends on their climate zone. Nigeria for instance has a beautiful variety of rainforests, water swamps, savannas and mountains which makes it stand out among other African states. Nigeria also has a unique place in the north called Sahel extends where Nigerian land meets with the great Sahara desert; this area has no green vegetation, but on the side of Lake Chad, you can find some papyrus and the place looks like a forest.
Nigeria can be said to be made up of dense tropical rainforests on one hand, and completely dry areas on another hand, bordering the Sahara.
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The three main types of vegetations in Nigeria
High-mountains & tropical rainforests
The mountain zone is located in Nigeria’s high-mountain areas. The vegetation in that area is not properly developed because of low temperatures. The Jos Plateau is one of the top areas in Nigeria and its grassland slope zone are covered with forests. This zone is ideal for growing crops but because it is quite inaccessible, it still remains untouched.
The forests, are located mainly along the right bank of the River Niger and in the valley of the River Cross. There you can find dense forests with trees over 40-45m high. Such gigantic trees with roots seem to be nature’s foundation, which holds the soil together. The trees of the second, as well as third tiers, are thickly tangled with lianas, rushing towards the sun.
The most valuable plants in Nigeria’s forests are iroko, opepe kaya, sapel and agba. All of them are used to produce timber for construction works and ornamental decoration. On the shores of lagoons, marshes and especially in the delta of the Niger, the forests’ look very different. The trees are way lower and grow far from each other. A lot of trees’ leaves are used for making mats and baskets, an example is the leaves of the candelabra-shaped pandanus.
In the north of the forest zone, humidity is lower and soils are drier. Due to the dry season’s impact, a lot of trees do not have leaves and form what we call dry tropical forests. They are also very multi-tiered but not so dense, and once you move further to the north, you can find the expanses of the Nigerian savannas.
The Nigerian savannas
Most parts of Nigeria are covered by Guinean high-grass savanna. The Guinea savannas border the banks of rivers and the grasses are very high. In this type of savanna, the elephant grass, kaya, isoberlinia, mitragina are predominant. During the first half of the dry season, the savanna looks very lifeless and all the trees are leafless. In the middle of dry season, there are a lot of cases of the dry grass fire bu
At the north of the Guinea savanna, you will find the Sudan savanna. The dry period there lasts for more than six-seven months. The only green vegetation you can find there is a dense low grass. Different types of acacia can be found there, which are used for medical purposes and eaten by camels.
Aside from the low grasses which can be found everywhere in the savanna, another main plant you can find there is the baobab. You can also find the whitish acacia, whose leaves serve as food for a lot of animals. The natural conditions of savanna are suitable for agriculture and farming development, therefore, sheep, cattle and goats can be spotted there.
The Sahel savanna is characterised by desert vegetation. Since it borders the biggest desert in the world – Sahara, the wet season lasts only from 3 to 4 months. The vegetation in this zone is very poor and grasses which can be seen there are extremely short.
This is a very special zone located next to the coast. Mangrove vegetation can be found on the coastal line and is greatly influenced by sea salt water. The soil in this zone is bad and holds much salt in it. Such kinds of places are only suitable for growing rice crop.
The natural vegetation of Nigeria is very suitable for the economic activity. Although there are a lot of problems connected with savannas’ development, the climatic conditions still contribute to the producing of cash crops. Nigeria can make big profits if their natural resources are used wisely.
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