Conservation Projects in Africa
BGCI have recently launched a three year project (October 2012 - October 2015) to support the conservation of endangered tree species and forest restoration in Africa. The project will contribute towards the aims of the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens and aims to enhance the role of African botanic gardens in forest restoration and promote the use of indigenous species. Information will be collected on the native tree species held in botanic garden collections and will support the forest restoration activities of two botanic gardens in East Africa.
BGCI in collaboration with the Aburi Botanic Gardens, Ghana has completed a three-year project, Conserving and cultivating medicinal plants in Ghana. The project was generously funded by the U.K.’s Community Fund (formerly the National Lotteries Charities Board). The project reached its conclusion in June 2002 and we are pleased to announce that the work has far exceeded the intended objectives of the original proposal.
The greatest threats to the remaining forests in Ghana are agricultural encroachment and fire in drought years. Two of Ghana's National Parks have been treated as a Centre of Plant Diversity site and probably represent the only area of Ghana with relatively undisturbed rain forest. As most plant species used in primary health care are collected from the wild, habitat destruction is seriously affecting their availability, as is collection pressure with severe strain being put on plant populations in the vicinity of urban centres. There is consequently an urgent need to encourage local people to cultivate medicinal plants for use in their community.
Caterpillars are an important traditional source food in Bas Congo and can provide much needed protein to the usual diet. Most families find it difficult to get enough protein form other sources. Fish and meat are generally too expensive. Hunting has cleared out most of the larger animals from the bush and even many of the smaller animals, such as the cane rat.
The Amani Botanic Gardens, sited amongst the rich forests of the East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania, have previously received attention in this magazine. The garden, arboretum and research station were for several decades in the early part of this century a major centre for research in the cultivation of tropical plants. The many exotics subsequently left at Amani have created a long-term experiment in the process of plant naturalisation. Given the high conservation value of the East Usambara forests (Hamilton & Bensted Smith, 1989; Iversen, 1991) the question of how to control and prevent habitat deterioration due to naturalised exotics is important.
Cupressus dupreziana, commonly called "Saharan cypress," is an extremely rare coniferous plant belonging to the Cupressaceae. C. dupreziana is one of the 20 to 25 species in the genus Cupressus, most are trees and many are characterized by restricted ranges. Closely related to Chamaecyparis, Cupressus plants are fast-growing trees often found in hot, arid regions, and are present both in the Old and New World. The Saharan cypress is native to a small, dry, mountainous region of the central Saharan desert in south east Algeria.
Chewing sticks are sold all over Nigeria as an aid to mouth hygiene, particularly in the cities where a small packet costs one Naira and a bundle of unprocessed sticks cost five Naira. The chewing stick Napoleonaea imperialis (Family: Lecythidaceae) is a tree of the forest understorey, about six metres high, with low branches and a dense crown. It is known as Upakonrisa in Bini, Irosun-Igbo in Yoruba and Akbodo in Ibo. It is distributed from Nigeria to the Congo and also occurs in Angola.
The Conservatoire Botanique National de Mascarin - plant conservation in action in La Réunion Island (Indian Ocean)
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.
If you have a conservation project based in an African Botanic Garden or focussing on an African species, please contact us