African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network

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


  • 2018 - 2018
Field team (photo: E Chappuis 2018)

Dr Cuni-Sanchez visited two montane forests in western Cameroun: Mt Oku and Mt Mbam, to set up 25 small permanent plots. Montane forests can store large quantities of Carbon but they have been poorly studied, especially in Africa. These plots will help assess AGB and start monitoring these forests, which are highly threatened by degradation and climatic changes.  Mr Senghor (University of Dchang) and four technicians assisted with the work. The work was funded by a Marie Curie Actions Global Fellowship, and forms part of the project AFRISKYFOR, focused on African montane forests.

While in Mt Oku getting to the forest was relatively easy, as several small villages (with running water and electricity) are located at high altitudes near the forest, in Mt Mbam the forest was at a 6-8 hour trek uphill from the drier lowlands. The challenges were many: steep terrains and cliffs, high temperatures and winds (dry season), weird tree shapes (difficult to measure) but also hunters’ traps (which can make a person hang from a tree like a pig) and bee hives. For the Oku people, their totem animal is the bee, and they use them for both ‘black magic’ and to make money. In fact, the forest is full of bamboo bee hives used to produce ‘white honey’: a fancy honey made from Nuxia congesta which is indeed white. Luckily, the team did not get stung that many times!

Cameroon 2018 (photo: E Chappuis)After these two forests, the team went to Mt Cameroun to try to re-measure 10 permanent plots set up along an altitudinal gradient 14 years ago. Unfortunately, the trip was not that successful: two plots were now inside a palm oil plantation, two plots had several trees logged for timber (illegally) and two more plots could not be located… re-sampling plots which have not been visited for a while is always challenging. Then, Dr Chapphuis joined the team  and spent the last 10 days setting a few small plots in semi-flooded forests, a forest type which has received little research attention (and which is difficult to measure as it is often flooded). The plots studied were dominated by Bubinga (Guibourtia demeusei), an endangered slow-growing tree highly appreciated for its reddish wood. Apart from sampling the trees, the team contributed to arrest eight illegal loggers which had already cut over 25 large Bubinga trees. It is very sad to see these unique trees disappear before we even understand how these beautiful semi-flooded forest ecosystems function.

Cameroon 2018 (E Chappuis) Cameroon 2018 (photo: E Chappuis)