Mount Cameroon (4095 m), the highest peak and only active volcano in West Africa, is located in the center of the Gulf of Guinea Pleistocene refugium. The associated forests and highlands along the southern Nigerian-Cameroon border and on the island of Bioko, known as the Biafran forests and highlands, are important formations of the Cameroon Volcanic Line owing to their wide elevational range, and on Mount Cameroon, a continuous gradient of unbroken vegetation from sea level to over 4000 m. The montane zones in the region begin 800 m above sea level forming the critically endangered Mount Cameroon and Bioko Montane Forests ecoregion.
The broad elevational gradient of the region has resulted in high habitat diversity, leading the region to be a center for species endemism and richness across many taxa. Some of the densest human populations in Africa also occur in this region, putting intense pressure on the forests and highlands mostly due to overexploitation and habitat loss. The governments of Nigeria, Cameroon, and Equatorial Guinea have designated protected areas in the region, but coverage is inadequate, especially for the rare montane ecosystems and endemic taxa. More importantly, protected areas are often not accompanied by effective management and regulatory enforcement. We recommend improved law enforcement and an expansion of the protected area network, as well as stronger commitments of institutional, financial, and technical support from governments and non-governmental organizations, in order to move conservation in the region in a positive direction. Without significant and immediate conservation progress, increasing anthropogenic pressure and systemic ineffectiveness of protected area management represent major concerns for the future of this important area.