Describing the coastal dry forests of northern Mozambique
A recent publication defines and characterises the coastal dry forests found in northern Mozambique and assesses their present extent, botanical composition and conservation importance.
21 Mar 2012
Dry coastal forest near Palma, Mozambique (Image: J. Timberlake).
The botanical results from two large expeditions and other recent trips to the little-studied coastal dry forests of Cabo Delgado Province, northern Mozambique, have been published in the journal Plant Ecology & Evolution.
Using satellite imagery, the extent of dense vegetation across the area was estimated at 1,182 km2, down from a suggested extent of almost 6,100 km2 a century ago ‒ a loss of 80.6%. Of this remaining dense vegetation, only around 400 km2 is believed to be dry forest, the rest being mostly dense miombo woodland.
Achievements of the study
Over 3,000 plant collections were made during the study, and a total of 738 plant taxa were recorded. Of these, 36 are believed to be new or undescribed with an additional 68 being new records for Mozambique, confirming links with the much better studied dry forests in south-east Tanzania. The new species are now being formally described by Kew staff and associates. Conservation assessments were made for seven restricted-range species, and 14 areas of conservation interest were identified based on the uniqueness of their flora or vegetation type.
This study has brought the richness and importance of coastal dry forests to the attention of the Mozambique authorities, and a project addressing their conservation is now being developed.
Item from Jonathan Timberlake (Editor - Flora Zambesiaca, RBG Kew)
Kew Scientist, issue 40
Timberlake, J., Goyder, D., Crawford, F., Burrows, J., Clarke, G. P., Luke, Q., Matimele, H., Müller, T., Pascal, O., de Sousa, C. & Alves, T. (2011). Coastal dry forests in northern Mozambique. Plant Ecology & Evolution 144: 126–137.
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