Kew botanists undertake fieldwork in Congo-Brazzaville for the first time
Congo-Brazzaville is the least surveyed forested country in tropical Africa for wild plant species. Botanists from Kew undertook fieldwork in the country for the first time in 2009.
03 Nov 2010
Collecting in Congo-Brazzaville (Image: M. Cheek)
Botanists from Kew made three visits to Congo-Brazzaville in 2009, undertaking fieldwork in the Chaillu area with Congolese colleagues from CERVEHerbier National Congolais, led by Dr Kami. This was the first time Kew botanists had undertaken fieldwork in Congo-Brazzaville - the least surveyed forested country in tropical Africa.
The most specimen-intensive collecting trip in Congolese history
The last of the expeditions in October 2009 involved 20 people and was probably the most specimen-intensive collecting trip in Congolese history. Helping with the fieldwork were students from University Marien Ngouabi, led by Prof. Moutsambote, and MINEF.
The survey work, funded by MPD Congo S.A. targeted three sites: a potential iron ore mine (to screen for species of potential conservation importance), the proposed Ogooué-Leketi National Park, and another site that might be considered as an offset area in future.
Capacity building is a major objective of the work. Three Congolese botanists will visit Kew and apart from teaching students fieldwork, the project has also increased the holdings of the National Herbarium by more than 10% (3,400 specimen numbers being added) and provided materials and equipment to expand the collection by 50%.
Kew staff also taught a week-long workshop, including the first in Congo-Brazzaville on IUCN Red List assessments. Several papers are in press with Congolese botanists, including one detailing 140 species new to Congo-Brazzaville.
Item from Dr Martin Cheek (Head of the Wet Tropics Africa Team, RBG Kew)
Originally published in Kew Scientist, issue 37
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