Congolian rainforests
BiomeTropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

The Congolian rainforests are a broad belt of lowland tropical moist broadleaf forests which extend across the basin of the Congo River and its tributaries in Central Africa. They are the only major rainforests which absorb more carbon than they emit.[citation needed]


A Sapele tree in the Republic of the Congo
A Sapele tree in the Republic of the Congo

The Congolian rainforest is the world's second-largest tropical forest, after the Amazon rainforest. It covers over 500,000,000 acres (2,000,000 km2) across six countries and contains a quarter of the world's remaining tropical forest.[1][2] The Congolian forests cover southeastern Cameroon, Gabon, Republic of the Congo, the northern and central Democratic Republic of the Congo, and portions of southern and central Africa. The Congolian rainforest is home to a large number of flora and fauna, including more than 10,000 species of plants and over 10,000 species of animals. It is estimated that the region contains more than a quarter of the world’s plant species and is home to one of the world’s most threatened primate species, the western lowland gorilla.[4] There are also a number of other species of primates, including the chimpanzee, black colobus monkey, red colobus monkey, and olive baboon.

To the north, south, and southwest, the forests transition to drier forest-savanna mosaic, a mosaic of drier forests, savannas, and grasslands.[3] To the west, the Congolian forests transition to the coastal Lower Guinean forests, which extend from southwestern Cameroon into southern Nigeria and Benin; these forest zones share many similarities and are sometimes known as the Lower Guinean-Congolian forests. To the east, the lowland Congolian forests transition to the highland Albertine Rift montane forests, which cover the mountains lining the Albertine Rift, a branch of the East African Rift system.


The World Wide Fund for Nature divides the Congolian forests into six distinct ecoregions:

Flora and fauna

Bonobos live south of the Congo River
Bonobos live south of the Congo River

See also: Category:Flora of West-Central Tropical Africa

The Congolian rainforests are home to over 10,000 species of plants of which 30% are endemic.[2] The Congolian rainforests are less biodiverse than the Amazon and Southeast Asian rainforests. However, its plant and animal life is still more rich and varied than most other places on Earth. The Congolian Forests are a global 200 ecoregion.

There are over 400 species of mammals in the rainforest, including African forest elephants, African bush elephants, chimpanzees, bonobos, mountain gorillas, and lowland gorillas.[2] The okapi is endemic to the northeastern Congolian rainforests.

The rainforests have 1,000 native species of birds, and 700 species of fish.[2]

Rainforest in Gabon
Rainforest in Gabon


The rainforest from above
The rainforest from above

Threats to the rainforests include destruction and fragmentation of forests by commercial logging, oil palm plantations, and mining. The bushmeat trade and poaching is depleting the rainforests of wildlife.[2] With annual forest loss of 0.3% during the 2000s,[4] the region has the lowest deforestation rate of any major tropical forest zone.[5]


  1. ^ "Congo Basin Forest Partnership". USAID. Archived from the original on 2008-05-08. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Congo Basin". World Wildlife Fund. World Wildlife Fund - WWF. Retrieved 20 May 2022.
  3. ^ Linder, H. Peter, Helen M. de Klerk Julia Born et al. (2012). "The partitioning of Africa: statistically defined biogeographical regions in sub‐Saharan Africa". Journal of Biogeography Volume 39, Issue 7 May 2012. [1]
  4. ^ Mayaux, P.; Pekel, J. F.; Desclée, B.; Donnay, F.; Lupi, A.; Achard, F.; Clerici, M.; Bodart, C.; Brink, A.; Nasi, R.; Belward, A. (2013). "Mayaux et al 2013". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 368 (1625): 20120300. doi:10.1098/rstb.2012.0300. PMC 3720022. PMID 23878331.
  5. ^ "Deforestation in the Congo Rainforest". Mongabay.