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The Plants of Lebialem Highlands, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist.

This book is the sixth in a series of plant conservation checklists for Cameroon. It describes 412 species and varieties discovered in the forests of the Lebialem Highlands of South West Region, Cameroon. The checklist provides a valuable tool for the identification and management of the plant species within the area, in particular the 42 found to be threatened with extinction - the highest priority for conservation.

The Plants of Lebialem Highlands, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist

This book, while a big step forward in our knowledge of the plants of the Lebialem Highlands, is far from being the last word on the subject.  It is based almost entirely on four rapid surveys by IRAD-National Herbarium of Cameroon and RBG Kew teams in 2004-2006, with the support of ERUDEF.  These teams were mainly led by Dr Barthélemy Tchiengué of IRAD-National Herbarium of Cameroon.  In the course of these surveys 549 specimen records were made, mainly between the villages of Fosimondi and Bechati.  With the help of numerous specialists from around the world on African plant groups, spear headed by Dr Tchiengué, 412 species have been identified from those records.  Of these, six appear unique (endemic) to the Lebialem Highlands and to be new to science, occurring nowhere else in the World on current evidence. 

However, there is no doubt that many more plant species remain to be found at Lebialem.  Further botanical surveys are needed to reveal the complete range of plant species present.  Among the gaps remaining in our knowledge is that of the species growing between c. 700-1100m altitude, about which we know nothing.  The lowland flora is very incompletely known, and some habitats in the area, such as rock faces, have yet to be surveyed.  To date only a few square kilometres have been surveyed, a very small proportion of the total area ascribed to the Lebialem Highlands by Dr Nkembi.

The Lebialem Highlands are not just important for their numbers of endemic and threatened species.  This site is also critical for understanding the distribution of species along the length of the Cameroon Highlands, filling as it does the previous large geographic gap in our knowledge between Kupe-Bakossi in the south and Bali Ngemba in the north.  Surprisingly, Lebialem shares more species with the former, although geographically more distant, than with the latter, very much closer geographically.

Funding to publish the book was secured from the Darwin Initiative as part of a project centred around completing a Red Data book for Cameroon.

Reference:

Harvey, Y., Tchiengué, B. & Cheek, M. (2010).  The plants of Lebialem Highlands, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist.  Pp 170.  Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Project partners and collaborators

Cameroon

National Herbarium of Cameroon: Barthélemy Tchiengué

ERUDEF: Louis Nkembi

WHINCONET

Project funders

Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives

Yvette Harvey, Martin Cheek

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: