Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A botanical wonderland discovered in Mozambique.

If any of you were lucky enough to watch Carte Blanche on M Net on Sunday evening, you will have seen the excerpt about the British Darwin Initiative expedition to Mount Mabu in northern Mozambique. Mount Mabu
was discovered by Kew scientists during a Google Earth search for a suitable area for a conservation project above 1 600m, where higher rainfall would likely lead to the establishment of forests. The green area on the satellite image hinted at exciting discoveries to be made and the interested botanists wasted no time in making
arrangements to get closer.
They contacted locally-based conservationist Julian Bayliss, who investigated the unexpected patch of green.
"To be the first biologist to enter such a huge area of untouched rainforest - well, it’s a dream come true for a field-based conservationist such as myself," enthused Bayliss later.
Scientists from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in the UK recently led the first expedition to Mount Mabu in central Mozambique.
The world-renowned botanical authority works with the Mozambican government, among others, to combat the threat of rapid development to sensitive areas by identifying
priority areas for conservation.
The inaugural expedition was funded by the UK-based Darwin Initiative under its project titled Monitoring and Managing Biodiversity Loss in South-East Africa's Montane Ecosystems.
The Darwin Initiative assists biodiversity-rich countries that are financially hard-pressed to protect their natural treasures, by funding collaborative projects and making UK biodiversity expertise available.
Expedition leader Jonathan Timberlake, a botanist with the Royal Botanic Garden, says Google Earth's digital imagery has helped open up the world to the scientific community, and may reveal more fresh pockets of diversity, especially in areas like Mozambique or Papua New Guinea where not all the terrain has been explored.

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