in West Africa are seriously under threat. Deforestation is continuously going on, and many forest areas have been transformed into agricultural fields. Remaining forests are degrading by poaching, illegal cutting and agricultural planting. This threat has led the European Community to support the ECOSYN project, in which an international group of researchers aimed at compiling available information on the forests of West Africa and on the plants in those forests (project B7-5041/95-02/VIII: ECOSYN: Guides, BIOGIS et Eco-Atlas des arbres et des lianes pour mieux gérer et conserver les forêts d'Afrique Occidentale (de la Guinée au Ghana).
The project started in 1996 and was jointly prepared by Renaat van Rompaey, Frans Breteler (Wageningen University), Dossahua Traoré (University of Cocody, Abidjan) and Vincent Beligné (Yamoussoukro). The European Community, Directorate General 8, financed the ECOSYN project. Special thanks to Enrico Pironio for continuous support during the first years, and Matthieu Bousquet for the last period. The project was headed in The Netherlands by Frans Breteler, Roel Lemmens and Frans Bongers, each in different periods. In Côte d'Ivoire Vincent Beligné and Dossahua Traoré guided the project.
The book you are reading now is one of the products of this ECOSYN project. It focuses on the distribution and state of the forests and analyses vegetation gradients, determines hotspots of plant diversity, and treats distribution patterns of rare and endemic species.
Numerous people have contributed to this book, by providing logistic support, collecting data, data entry, providing photographic material, drawings, commenting on species descriptions and chapters, reviewing, and so on. We wish to thank the following colleagues. Logistic support was provided in Wageningen and Abidjan by Folkert Aleva, Jean Assi, Rob Allaart, Laurent Aké-Assi, Aman Kadio, Vincent Beligné, Frans Breteler, Erik Frederiks, Theo van Hoksbergen, Joke Jansen, Roel Lemmens, Kees-Jan Manschot, Judith van Medenbach de Rooy, Artine van Pouderoijen, Renaat van Rompaey, Barbara van Roosmalen, Tine Ruijsch, Dossahua Traoré, Marina Wassink.
The atlas strongly draws on the use of herbarium collections. Carel Jongkind, Jan Wieringa and Folkert Aleva were responsible for the collection of new specimens in the field, species (re)identification and herbarium mounting & maintenance. Several herbaria in Africa and Europe allowed us to use their herbarium collections; Nationaal Herbarium Nederland, Wageningen branch (Herbarium Vadense, The Netherlands), National Botanical Garden of Belgium (Meise, Belgium), Daubeny Herbarium (Oxford, Great Britain), Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (Kew, Great Britain), Conservatoire et Jardin Botaniques de la Ville de Genève (Genève, Switzerland), Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France), Herbier National de Côte d'Ivoire, University of Cocody (Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire), and the Dept. of Botany of the University of Ghana (Legon, Ghana). Data entry was done by Marjo Buitelaar, Stuart Cable, Patrick Ekpe, Hendrikjan van Os Breijer, Jan van Veldhuizen and many students, especially Paul van Esch, Tom van Lokven, Marieke Sandker, Arjan Schoonhoven, Petra Wilbrink and Saskia Woudenberg. Xander van de Burgt and Marieke van Bergen contributed to the selection of rare and endemic species.
Denis Filer designed the Brahms herbarium database and tailored it to our specific needs. Several colleagues kindly allowed us to use their databases; Petra De Block (Ixora), Cyrille Chatelain (part of the Genève database), Carel Jongkind (Combretaceae), Marc Pignal (part of the Paris database), Roger Polhill (Loranthaceae), Bonaventure Sonké (Oxyanthus), Piet Stoffelen (Pausinystalia and Corynanthe), Jan Wieringa (Aphanocalyx and Tetraberlinia). GIS support and species distribution maps were provided by Toon Helmink, Gerbert Roerink, Cees de Zeeuw, and Roland van Zoest.
Advice on statistics was provided by Cajo ter Braak and on soils by Vincent van Engelen (ISRIC). The species descriptions were refined and checked by Jan-Just Bos (Dracaenaceae), Frans Breteler (Dichapetalaceae), Joost van der Burg (Orchidaceae), François Kouamé, Arnold Pieterse (Podostemaceae), Marc Sosef (Begoniaceae and a number of other species), Laurens Vogelezang helped with editing for some species groups. Species drawings were made by Rosemary Wise, Marjolein Spitteler and Emmelien Jaggar, and photos were kindly provided by William Hawthorne, Herbarium Vadense, and others.
The following authors contributed to the atlas chapters (in alphabetical order): Frans Bongers, Marjo Buitelaar, Cyrille Chatelain, Hy Dao, Laurent Gautier, William Hawthorne, Toon Helmink, Milena Holmgren, Carel Jongkind, K.E. Kouadio, K. Kouassi, François Kouamé, Roel Lemmens, Hendrikjan van Os Breijer, Lourens Poorter, Rodolphe Spichiger, Almira Siepel, Jan Wieringa, Roland van Zoest. David Dunn and Andrea Falke translated some manuscripts into English. The atlas chapters benefited from detailed reviews by (alphabetically) Frans Bongers, Cyrille Chatelain, James Fairhead, William Hawthorne, Milena Holmgren, Sally
Horn, Michael Huston, Carel Jongkind, François Kouamé, Melissa Leach, Adrian Newton, Marc Parren, Lourens Poorter, Stefan Porembski, Hans ter Steege, Mike Swaine, and Claudius van den Vijver.
Finally, the beautiful design and layout of the atlas was in the hands of Marjolein de Vette.
Additional acknowledgements for specific chapters may be found in those chapters.
We thank all for their contribution to this book.
Lourens Poorter, Frans Bongers, François Kouamé, William Hawthorne
The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the
Upper Guinean forests
The rainforests of West Africa have been earmarked as one of the world's hotspots of biodiversity (Myers et al. 2000). These forests extend from Senegal to Togo, and are referred to as the Upper Guinean forests. These are separated from the rest of the African rainforests by the Dahomey gap: an extension of the woodland savanna of the Sahel to the Gulf of Guinea (Figure 1.2). Because of its isolated position the Upper Guinean forest zone harbours a large number of endemic animal and plant species (Hall & Swaine 1981, Brooks et al. 2001).
The Upper Guinean forests are disappearing rapidly. For an effective conservation policy, information is needed on the distribution of rare and endemic species in the region, and on the regions in which they are concentrated (Conservation International 2001). Little of the original forest area is left, and most of the large remaining forest blocks straddle national borders. Only transnational conservation efforts may warrant therefore a successful management of the remaining forest resources, and a regional approach is urgently needed (Conservation International 2001).
This book focuses on the biodiversity and ecology of West African forests. It analyses the major ecological factors that give rise to biodiversity, and structure tropical plant communities. Additionally it contains an atlas with ecological profiles of the most important species in view of their conservation value or commercial value. This introductory chapter provides background information of the region. First the location, uniqueness and threats of the area will be indicated and conservation need highlighted. The biogeographical environment of the area will be treated in detail, giving thorough background for the introduction of the forest vegetation and its dynamics. The chapter will end with an outline of the different book chapters.
A distinct biogeographic region
The rainforests of West Africa are known as Upper Guinean forests. The origin of the word dates back to the
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