©UNESCO/Omo Biosphere Reserve
Omo Biosphere Reserve

The Omo Biosphere Reserve is situated about 135 km north east of Lagos in the south of Nigeria. The major habitats are dry evergreen mixed deciduous forests in the north and wet evergreen forests in the south. Plantations and agricultural land can also be found within the area.

About 6,000 people live within the boundaries of the biosphere reserve. The major economic activities are timber exploitation, fuelwood harvesting, cultivation of arable crops, hunting, fishing, and the plantation of indigenous and exotic tree species, all of which take place in the transition area. Soil erosion and loss of biodiversity are the principal threats to the reserve.


Designation date: 1977
Administrative authorities: Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ogun State Ministry of Forestry
Surface area (terrestrial and marine): 675,123.75 ha
Core area(s): 460 ha
Buffer zone(s): 8,165 ha
Transition area(s): 666,498.75 ha

06°38’N – 07°05’N
Longitude: 04°19’E – 04°40’E
Midpoint:  06°51’30”N – 04°29’30”E

Ecological Characteristics

©Wikimedia Commons/Chi King
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)

The predominantly ferruginous tropical soils of Omo are typical of soil varieties found in the intensively weathered areas of basement complex formations in the rainforest zone of south-western Nigeria. The river complex in the area has a network of rivulets, streams and small rivers forming several tributaries to major rivers in the area, including large perennial rivers such as the River Oni along the border east of Omo and north-western Oluwa.

The forests found in the reserve are mixed moist, semi-evergreen rainforest. The vegetation of the complex is classed as lowland rain forest, which typically contains many valuable timber trees. The area is also extremely rich in species and has high levels of endemism. The area also boasts the highest variety of butterflies in Africa, a large proportion of which are endemic.

The main plant species of the area include Diospyros spp., Dracaena manni, Khaya ivorensis and Cordia millenii. Among the animal species found in the reserve are chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), pangolin (Manis tetradactyla), long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occidentalis), civet cat (Vivera civetta), white-throated monkey (Cercopithecus erythrogaster), African elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis) and the globally threatened yellow casqued hornbill (Ceratogymna elata).

Socio-Economic Characteristics

©UNESCO/Omo Biosphere Reserve
Omo Biosphere Reserve

Farming is the principal occupation of the inhabitants, while a small proportion are involved in other occupations such as hunting, fishing, hired labour and timber contracting for income generation. Secondary professions include mechanics, blacksmiths, tailors, carpenters and herbalists.

The majority of the people living within or near the biosphere reserve are descendants of original settlers mainly from the Ijebu tribe. Others inhabitants, including the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo ethnic groups, come originally from the south-west with a few from the eastern and northern parts of the country.

> Back to Biosphere Reserves in Nigeria

                                                                                    Last updated in September 2015

Back to top