Our Planet Reviewed - Expedition Papua New-guinea

Pro-Natura International
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle
IRD
The_hotspot

Mozambique

Deforestation around Palma region, Cabo Delgado Province, North of Mozambique

Deforestation around Palma region, Cabo Delgado Province, North of Mozambique

[© MNHN]

Dry forest of the North of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado Province

Dry forest of the North of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado Province

Repérages aériens 2008 [© Olivier Pascal]

The importance of inventories of biodiversity: the forests on the coast of East Africa

 

The forests on the coast of North Mozambique in which the expedition between 1st November and 15th December 2009 will take place are part of the ten most important forest ecosystems on the African continent which are known under the name Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa. These cover the territories of several countries (Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique) and are one of the 34 hotspots of biodiversity defined by the NGO Conservation International. However, although they belong to the same hotspot, the forests of Mozambique, Tanzania and Kenya are not similar. In Tanzania, the coastal forests which have been reduced to the state of post climax forests still benefit from a long-standing statute of conservation and are thus protected. On the other side of the border, in turn, the forests of Mozambique cover a surface which is much more important but these are currently not the object of a major conservation project and are thus particularly threatened. These differences are mainly due to the history of the two countries.

Map of the humid and dry forest in the world

Map of the humid and dry forest in the world

 

The forest reserves of Tanzania were established during the period of the German colonisation, i.e. about one hundred years ago. Since then, they have been relatively well preserved although the surrounding territories have been almost completely exploited by the population. Although the forests of Mozambique suffered from considerable deforestation in the course of the last 20 to 50 years, they could – as an irony of history – partially regenerate themselves due to the civil war which devastated the country between 1975 and 1992 causing millions of deaths. However, the lack of data relating to these forests is still a disadvantage for Mozambique: it deprives the country of foreign financial aid for the conservation. In the course of the last years, a bonanza of millions of dollars of international aid has thus been granted to Kenya and Tanzania for the protection of their forest ecosystems which are well documented while Mozambique almost did not receive any aid due to the lack of sufficient knowledge of its biodiversity – an emblematic case of the purpose of inventories...

Hospot "Coastal forests of west Africa"

Hospot "Coastal forests of west Africa"

[© Sur Le Toit | MNHN]

 
Flower from a tree of Eurythrina gender

Flower from a tree of Eurythrina gender

[O. Dubuquoy|©MNHN]

Berlinia

Berlinia

Around Plama area, Cabo Delgado Province, North of Mozambique.

[© MNHN]

Une biodiversité remarquable

 

Le hotspot des Forêts Sèches d'Afrique de l'Est abrite une biodiversité endémique une espèce est dite endémique lorsqu'elle est présente uniquement dans une zone géographique délimitée, de façon naturelle : le koala Phascolarctos cinereus est endémique de l'Australie, la fleur Saxifraga florulenta est endémique des Alpes. Le concept d'endémisme peut s'appliquer à  n'importe quel taxon : espèce, genre, famille... Le taux d'endémisme est l'un des éléments permettant d'évaluer la biodiversité.importante, tant animale que végétale (1750 espèces de plantes endémiques sur les 4050 espèces recensées). Au sein de biome, la plupart des espèces et des genres endémiques se trouvent dans les habitats forestiers. La composition de ces derniers varie énormément d'une enclave à l'autre : deux zones de forêt sèche distantes de 100 kilomètres peuvent ne contenir que 20% d'espèces végétales similaires ! Qui plus est, environ 40% des espèces endémiques de plantes ne se trouvent que dans une seule enclave, et nulle part ailleurs. Les forêts sèches abritent également plusieurs espèces endémiques de primates.
Selon les ONG de conservation, la région du hotspot où le taux d'endémisme est le plus fort s'étendrait du nord du Kenya au sud de la Tanzanie. Comment expliquer que le nord du Mozambique, contigüe du sud-tanzanien, n'appartienne pas à cette zone ? Tout simplement parce que les données sur cette région sont quasiment inexistantes. Un manque de connaissance extrêmement préjudiciable, puisqu'il prive le pays de précieux financements internationaux.

Cricket, Cabo Delgado area

Cricket, Cabo Delgado area

[© J.Y. Rasplus]