The Iroko Foundation and Cercopan, a Nigerian NGO, have commenced a project to rehabilitate the old botanical gardens in the centre of the city of Calabar in south-east Nigeria. The garden is located on land owned by the Cross River State Forestry Commission, and will incorporate a nature trail, medicinal plant nursery, primate rehabilitation facilities and an environmental education centre in the new layout.
The botanical gardens were initially established by the British colonial administration in the mid-1880's to introduce economic crops into Nigeria from other parts of the tropics and to cultivate indigenous plants that might be exported to other parts of the empire. However, by the 1930s much of the grounds were sold off leaving the remainder to house the offices of the state government Forestry Commission. The Forestry Commission tried to establish a zoo on the grounds but unfortunately never had sufficient funds or the expertise to run the zoo. For several years, the Forestry Commission and NGOs in Calabar also discussed rehabilitating the gardens but none had access to funding and the plans never came to fruition. Today the garden grounds are derelict. Nevertheless, it is the only green space in the city and is strategically close to the university and the commercial centre of the city. In spite of its air of neglect, people still visit the garden to sit in the shade of its large old trees.
The people of Bafut near Bamenda in north-west Cameroon have allocated 17 ha of land to create a savanna botanic garden and a sanctuary forest reserve. The project area involves three very important historic shrines in the Bafut Kingdom.
In 1992, the author and coordinator, Tafor Princewill Che discussed the project with Sama Wilfred and approached the Fon of BafutÄ Abumbi II. The Fon of Bafut willingly gave the old palaces of Mbebli and Njibujang and the main garden area of Niko/Mankaha for the project. The old palace of Mbebli also known as Ntoh Firloo is the cradle of the Bafut Kingdom. The Bafut people built the palace here when they first arrived from Tikari some 400 years ago. It contains the tombs of the first three Bafut Kings namely, Firloo, Nebasi Suh and Ambebi. Libation for the famous Bafut Annual Dance "Abin" begins here. It will now serve as an aboretum. The palace at Njibujang contains the tomb of the 8th King of Bafut Ä Achirimbi I. It harbours some rare medicinal plants and has a grinding mill which was used to grind an extinct species of maize (musang). This will serve as the second arboretum. The botanic garden will be developed at Niko/Mankaha which was the military headquarters of the 9th king of Bafut Abumbi I during the Bafut German wars. From here he directed the military operations during the war and it now serves as a war memorial to the Bafut people.
There are 2 main botanic gardens in our country both situated near urban centres. The Botanic Garden of Eala at Mbandaka, in the equatorial region and the Botanic Garden of Kisantu in the lower Zaire region, 120km away from Kinshasa. They were both created at the same time (1900) - Eala by the Congolese state, thanks to the initiative of Professor E. Laurent from Gembloux and Kisantu by the Jesuit, FrŠre Justin Gillet with financial support from the state. Both these renowned gardens will soon reach their centenary.
The Nairobi Arboretum, set in the centre of the capital of Kenya consists of 30 ha containing a large collection of trees and shrubs from the tropics both native and from throughout the world. It has developed from a trial arboretum at the beginning of the twentieth century to a green refuge from the bustle of the city and a place for learning about biodiversity.
Nairobi was developed to support the construction of the railway from Mombasa on the coast to the shores of Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile which the British colonists wanted to control. The area was known as Enkare Neerobi meaning a 'place of cool waters'. It was used by the Maasai people as a watering place for their cattle herds.
Creating a rain forest in Africa may sound rather like developing a desert in Saudi Arabia! But South Africa is essentially a country of long and erratic dry periods and the establishment of a rain forest poses several difficulties that have been overcome by the National Botanical Institute's (NBI's) Lowveld National Botanical Garden in Nelspruit in the north-eastern province of Mpumalanga, South Africa.
This garden was the brainchild of the Garden Route Botanical Society. Since then a Trust has been formed, Management Committee set up, garden plans drawn up, three successful annual plant sales held, and enough funds to make a good start on the garden itself. Sterling work has been done over the past year in clearing, preparing and planting.
The City of George is situated at the heart of the Garden Route, just 4 hours from Cape Town by car and 3 hours from Port Elizabeth. The town is nestled below George Peak and the highest peak in the Outeniqua Mountains, Cradock Peak. These mountains which stretch away to East and West form a magnificent natural backdrop to the gardens which lie at their feet. Hiking trails for the fit and walks for the not so fit are being made into the mountain fynbos area adjacent to the gardens.
Historically cycads were once one of the major components of the world's vegetation. They were grazed by dinosaurs, but little appears to have changed in their morphology and physiology, let alone their reproductive systems.
As of now there are 185 known species in 10 genera. The genera are, with countries of origin in brackets: Encephalartos (South Africa), Stangeria (South Africa), Bowenia (Australia), Zamia (New World), Cycas (more widespread - Asia, tropical Australia, East Africa, Madagascar and a host of western Pacific islands), Ceratozamia (Mexico), Dioon (Mexico and Honduras), Microcycas (Cuba), Macrozamia (Australia) and Lepidozamia (eastern Australia).
Indian Ocean Islands
The tropical high volcanic island of La Réunion, being formed 2.1 million years ago, and located about 150 km west of Mauritius and 780 km east of Madagascar, is the largest (2,512 sq. km) and the highest (3,069 m in elev.) of all the oceanic islands in the Indian Ocean. Although relatively poorly known compared to nearby Mauritius or the Seychelles, the native flora of La Réunion appears to be relatively rich. About 240 fern species and more than 500 flowering plant species have been described from the island. Among the flowering plants, about 160 species are strictly endemic to La Réunion (species-level endemism of nearly 30 %), and 6 endemic genera are recognized. The uniqueness of La Réunion’s native biota lies in its great diversity of vegetation types, ranging from littoral vegetation and lowland semi-dry forests, to low- and mid- elevation wet (or rain-) forests, montane wet (or cloud-) forests, and ericoid vegetation on the highest summits of Piton des Neiges (3,069 m) and Piton de la Fournaise (2,631 m), a still active volcano.