Biodiversity of Atewa Forest
We report the most comprehensive collation of species records for Atewa Forest, Ghana, that has been assembled to date in order to demonstrate the biological importance of the forest.
Compared with most forests in West Africa, Atewa Forest has been relatively well surveyed. Species richness is far higher for most classes of organisms than is known for most forests in Ghana. Plant richness, at over 1100 species, accounts for ca. 26% of Ghana’s entire flora. Butterfly richness in Atewa Forest accounts for over 77% of Ghana’s species. And over 30% of Ghana’s bird species have been recorded in and around Atewa Forest.
The number of globally threatened species recorded in Atewa Forest is amongst the highest known for any forest in West Africa. Over 100 species in Atewa Forest are threatened or near threatened with extinction. These include three Critically Endangered (CR) species. A further three species are likely to be assessed as CR in due course. Atewa Forest is home to 20% of all threatened species known to occur in Ghana. One plant, two butterflies and, pending publication, one frog are entirely endemic to Atewa Forest. At least nine species are named after Atewa Forest in their scientific name.
Despite this wealth of understanding much remains to be discovered. Although plants have been relatively well surveyed there remain gaps for some plant groups, there is little information about fungi, nor many invertebrate groups (besides butterflies, dragonflies, katydids and ants), and rather little for reptiles and even small mammals.
However, despite these limits to our knowledge, our findings reaffirm the high international priority there is for the conservation of Atewa Forest and the pressing need for the site to be fully protected as a National Park.