Vegetation

Author: nick on 12-09-2013, 19:00, views: 7 541

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Vegetation Map of Ikot Abasi AreaVegetation Map of Ikot Abasi AreaThe whole of Akwa Ibom State is situated in the tropical forest zone. The forest vegetation can be divided into three types, namely: Mangrove forest along the coast and river estuaries; Fresh water swamp forest and Rainforest proper.

 

Mangrove Forest

 

Ikot Abasi Local Government Area has all the three forest types. Mangrove forest is quite extensive, covering the entire coastal area of the local government area and the estuaries of Imo River and Jaja, Qua Iboe and Shooter's creeks. The mangrove species, identified in the area, include Rhizhophora racemosa, Rhizophora mangle and Rhizophora harrisonii, as well as Avicenia nitida. The most abundant species is Rhizohora racemosa, which can grow to a height of 30 m and above. It has been observed that quite a reasonable portion of the mangrove swamp has been taken over by the Nypa palm. This palm has been found to out-compete the mangrove trees in the brackish environments of the river estuaries. In Ikot Abasi township wetland areas, almost all the brackish mangrove areas have been taken over by the Nypa palm growth.

 

Fresh Water Swamp Forest

 

In the wetland areas, which are removed from the influence of tidal saline waters, fresh water vegetation abounds. This is found along the flood plains of the Imo River and its tributaries, particularly Essene Creek (Акра Aya), which is the major creek that drains the upland part of the local government area. Fresh water vegetation is also found in the upper reaches of smaller creeks and in the streams all over the local government area.

 

The fresh water swamp forest contains a good variety of trees, herbs and grasses. The most important tree is the raffia palm, which, in most cases, is cultivated by the people, because of its economic importance. The branches are used as planks in building mud houses. The leaves are used for making mats for roofing the houses. At maturity, the palms are tapped to obtain a very popular liquor, palm wine, which is also distilled into 'native gin' (akaikai). Before the recent times, the palm was, also, highly valued for the fibre (piassava), obtained from the lower portions of the branches. It is being conjectured, that this may provide the long fibre needed for the paper industry. The species of raffia palm, encountered, are Raphia hookeri and Raphia vinifera.

 

Other plants, found in the fresh water swamp forest, include Alstonia spp., Cleistophollis patens, Lophira alata and beautifully flowered Lonchocarpus griffonianus. Some water-loving plants, like water lotus (Nymphaea lotus), water lily (Pistia striatiotes) and Vosia cuspidata are commonly floating in the streams.

 

The Tropical Rain Forest

 

The tropical rain forest is found in the upland areas, where the soil is well drained. The vegetation is complex, but three recognisable layers of heights of trees are observed. The upper layer has trees that reach the height of about 40 metres. These trees are called emergents, and include the most valuable timber trees e. g. Terminalis spp., (Idigbo), Triplochiton scleroxylon (Obeche), Ceiba pentandra (Silk cotton), Celtis milbraedii, Lophira alata (Iron wood). The second layer has trees with smaller crowns, which tend to touch one another. The third layer, or, understorey has trees of about 5-10 metres tall, with narrow crowns. Epiphytes and other woody climbers are generally found on the crowns of the understorey.

 

In the local government area, just like in most of the eastern states, the original rain forest has virtually disappeared and what is found now, is farmland with crops, or, under fallow. The destruction of the forest has also been attributed to urban development. Lumbering and firewood have also exploited the forest. Some forest vegetation is, however, found in difficult terrain, in areas adjoining the freshwater swamps and beach ridge barrier islands along the coastal fringes. Some pockets of forest are still preserved as sacred places or shrines and forest reserves for traditional societies like Ekpo Nyoho, Atat etc. in each village.

 

The most important tree in the rain forest zone is the oil palm, which dots the secondary forest or bush fallow. When the land is cleared for farming, the oil palm tree is not destroyed. Also developed in the zone are some individual oil palm plantations.

 

Rubber plantations, developed by individuals or the Government Ministry of Agriculture, are found in a number of places, particularly along the coastal areas near Iko and Okoroete towns. There are also some pockets near Essene.

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