Forest biodiversity and conservation research in Nigeria has received a major boost with the donation by T.Y. Danjuma to the Nigerian Montane Forest Project (NMFP) for the establishment of a long-term, large-scale forest research plot at Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State. The Ngel Nyaki plot will be the first CTFS-ForestGEO plot in Nigeria and only the fifth in the entire African continent.
The University of Canterbury NMFP, directed by Associate Professor Hazel Chapman, operates a teaching and research facility located on the edge of Ngel Nyaki forest, a hotspot of natural diversity. The NMFP works with Taraba State Forestry to protect the forest.
The field station, which has been operating for eight years, serves as a research laboratory and teaching center, with accommodation for scientists and students. Masters and PhD level students from Nigerian universities and institutions, as well as University of Canterbury students, undertake research within the reserve.
Associate Professor Chapman says the research is assisting conservation in Nigeria in critical ways.“The focus of the research carried out by the NMFP is aimed towards the conservation, restoration and management of these unique forests and understanding the services provided by the plants and animals in them. It is vitally important research, because Nigeria has already lost most of its primary forests and therefore the potential to benefit from them.”
Current research projects include understanding pollination networks, seed dispersal by primates and rats, and investigations into the medicinal properties of forest trees.
Field assistants have been trained from nearby Yelwa village to support the research effort by setting up and monitoring experiments. They receive training in using computers, data entry, photography, and telemetry techniques, providing transferable skills making them sought after employees on the Plateau.
Assoc. Prof. Chapman says, “In funding our research plot T.Y. Danjuma has given Taraba State and the NMFP a huge boost; it is a truly exciting development. The plot will attract more Nigerian and international researchers and students, it will provide work for more of the local community, and it will strengthen conservation initiatives. Data from the plot will contribute towards understanding the effects of climate change, carbon sequestration and forest fragmentation.”
To learn more about CTFS-ForestGEO visit our website.