African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network

Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene

Mitzik, Lope, Mondah, Ovan

  • June - November 2013
  • Gabon
team at Lope National Park, Gabon (photo: Aida Cuni Sanchez 2013)

Dr Cuni Sanchez and her team continue. First stop the north again, Mitzik area, a nice plot in an old Forestry Concession. The challenge? Find a machine large enough to clear the route. Second stop: Lope National Park in central Gabon, the most visited in the country, where savannah and rainforest meet.  This is a wonderful landscape, with rolling hills of forest patches and large numbers of wildlife. Several small plots of different forest types are re-sampled, after 20 years! Third stop: Mounts de Cristal again, to train another researcher and sample two more plots. This time they do not find any new species, but the rain continues.

new ground based LiDAR machine, LopeForth stop: Forest Reserve of Mondah, next to Libreville. Although little wildlife is left here, the vegetation is nice.  Three PhD students come around, to try for first time a new ground based LiDAR machine in a tropical rainforest. This proves to be a success (after buying an umbrella for the machine) and the same is repeated in Lope (fifth stop). In Lope, a hand-held fan is needed for the poor machine standing in the sunny hot savannah.

Sixth stop: Ovan, north Gabon again, an abandoned Forestry Concession. The old logging road is so full of Maranthaceae that it needs to be manually cleared by machete, which makes walking slow (very slow indeed). Maranthaceae are strange herbaceous plants up to 3 m height, some with spines, which grow like crazy and make walking by foot difficult. They produce small red fruits with a ginger flavour appreciated by humans and gorillas. Apparently Gabon has the richest biodiversity of Maranthaceae in the world (good for Gabon and its fauna, bad for field researchers).

Seventh stop: south-east Gabon, Franceville area. The team goes there by train, an interesting experience given that the train only works at night and the bicycles can overtake it. Four plots are sampled in two Forestry concessions.