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Guinean forests

The dense rainforests of West Africa are known as the Guinean Forests and extend from Guinea to western Cameroon.

Until a few decades ago, they formed a single large block of forest naturally divided into two massifs: the Upper Guinea Forests and the Lower Guinea Forests.

The Upper Guinea forests extend from Guinea to Ghana, crossing Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

The Lower Guinea forests extend from western Nigeria to the Sanaga River in southwestern Cameroon.

The two forest ecosystems are separated by the Dahomey Gap (named after the ancient African kingdom), which consists of a mixture of savannah and dry forest in Togo and Benin, as the area is too dry for dense forest to develop.

Both areas are now largely fragmented, as a result of human activities that have led to significant forest loss. However, the distinction into the two large forest blocks of Upper and Lower Guinea remains important because their natural separation over millennia has led to the evolution of many species unique to each block.