Martin Melo Discusses the Devastating Impact of Fires on Afromontane Forests in a Q&A

A group of national and international scientists have recently raised concerns about the state of the Afromontan forest in western Angola, which is one of Africa’s most threatened habitats. Despite being home to up to 10 new species, the ecosystem is under threat from the pressure of nearby human settlements and uncontrolled fires which encroach upon the verdant landscape. Biodiversity researcher Martim Melo of the University of Porto states that these Afromontine forests are remnants of the former Ice Age in Africa, and through studying the genetic data of birds living in these environments, he has helped to reconstruct the history of the habitat. The Namba Mountains in Angola are an example of this type of ecosystem, along with similar environments in Tanzania, Malawi, and Zambia, with the forests serving as stepping stones to other habitats. However, the resilience of the Namba Mountains is being undermined by excessive and uncontrolled fires that are leaving no space for regenerating forest edges. If the problem persists, the forests could be severely degraded or may even disappear altogether within five to ten years, along with nearly 90 species of forest birds that call it home. Scientists are urging governments and organisations to establish reserves to protect the environment, which will also aid in preserving its biodiversity.

Leave a Reply