The Plants of Bali Ngemba Forest Reserve, Cameroon: A Conservation Checklist
Bali Ngemba Forest Reserve is located in the Bamenda Highlands of NW Province, Cameroon, which themselves form part of the Cameroon Highlands. It has been estimated that 96.5% of the original forest cover of the Bamenda Highlands above 1500 m altitude has been lost. Bali Ngemba represents both the largest and the only officially protected block of forest below 2000 m alt. in the Bamenda Highlands and is therefore of great biological and conservation importance. Nowhere else in the Bamenda Highlands displays such a continuous sequence of primary natural vegetation over such a large altitudinal range (1200-2200 m alt.) in the submontane zone.
These 8 km2 harbour 38 Red Data (threatened with extinction) species, the densest concentration known in NW Province. This number is expected to increase, as the species of this forest are so poorly worked out that 24 are new and unknown to science. All of these appear to be threatened; when published, they will probably also be ascribed to the Red Data list. So unique is the Bali Ngemba forest reserve that 12 species occur here and nowhere else in the world. A further 11 species are known from Bali Ngemba and only one other locality. These, and the other species of Bali Ngemba probably once occurred around the Bamenda Highlands and adjoining parts of the Cameroon Highlands, but have now been extirpated by mankind.
The purpose of the project was to survey the forest at different seasons, as exhaustively as was possible within funding constraints. Between 1999-2002, several RBG Kew-National Herbarium of Cameroon (HNC) teams combed the forest, supported by local conservation NGOs and Earthwatch volunteers. Identifications were made at Kew by both HNC and Kew specialists.
The objectives were 1) to build the capacity of the staff involved to execute botanical survey work with a conservation focus; 2) to aid protection of the forest by producing a book to attract publicity and long-term interest; 3) to aid future management of the forest by helping identify conservation priority species and suggesting how their chances of survival might be increased. This information is given in a separate Red Data chapter which includes illustrations for as many of the species involved as could be obtained.
The major output was the book, which has the title of this project. Its launch in Cameroon in 2004/5 received local press and radio coverage. Other outputs have been conservation posters of many of the endemic or endangered plants, and, in the future, repatriation of specimen data held on a Kew-based database. Both the checklist and posters have been widely distributed in the Bamenda Highlands, to Cameroonian NGOs, government bodies and local schools.
Going forward, RBG Kew is supporting the plan of the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife to increase the protected status of Bali Ngemba from Forest Reserve, as it is at present (implying that it is a timber reserve), to Botanic Garden (signalling that it is to be protected from logging and clearance and to become a base for public education and research in plant conservation). We are seeking resources to support this initiative.
Project Leader: Harvey, Yvette B.
Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives
Martin Cheek, Iain Darbyshire, Yvette Harvey, Benedict John Pollard
Contributors - idents
Henk Beentje, Parmjit Bhandol, Gill Challen, Ruth Clark, Tom Cope, Philip Cribb, Sally Dawson, Peter Edwards, David Frodin, George Gosline, David Goyder, Peter Green, Nicholas Hind, Petra Hoffmann, Mike Lock, Barbara Mackinder, Roger Polhill, Ghillean Prance, Dave Roberts, Brian Schrire, Cynthia Sothers, Cliff Townsend, Bernard Verdcourt, Kaj Vollesen, Paul Wilkin, Elizabeth Woodgyer
Laszlo Csiba, Nina Rønsted
Project Partners and Collaborators
Herbier National Camerounais (YA)
Limbe Botanic Garden (SCA)
University of Yaoundé I
Apicultural and Nature Conservation Organisation (ANCO)
Boyo Envrironmental Protection Agency (BEPA)
Belo Rural Development Programme (BERUDEP)
Bamenda Highlands Forest Project (BHFP)
Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERUDEF)
Kilum-Ijum Forest Project (KIFP)
Ministry of the Environment and Forests (MINEF)
Natural Environment Protection Agency (NEPA)
National Office for the Development of Forestry (ONADEF)
Organisation for Rural Development and Environmental Protection (ORDEP)
Sustainable Agriculture Technicians (SATEC)
Society for the Protection of Animal Life and the Environment (SPALE)
Wageningen University (WAG)
Botanical Museum, Oslo (O)
Malesiana Tropicals, Kuching
Gola Forest Programme, Freetown
Uppsala University, Uppsala (UPS)
University of Reading (RNG)
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, District of Columbia (US)
Darwin Initiative, through the Conservation of the plants of Western Cameroon project
Earthwatch Institute (fieldwork funding)