Plant Ecology and Evolution 152(1): 8-29, doi: 10.5091/plecevo.2019.1547
Mine versus Wild: a plant conservation checklist of the rich Iron-Ore Ngovayang Massif Area (South Cameroon)
expand article infoVincent Droissart, Olivier Lachenaud§, Gilles Dauby|, Steven Dessein, Gyslène Kamdem#, Charlemagne Nguembou K.#, Murielle Simo-Droissart#, Tariq Stévart¤, Hermann Taedoumg#, Bonaventure Sonké¤
‡ Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France§ Botanic Garden Meise, Nieuwelaan 38, 1860 Meise, Belgium| AMAP Lab, IRD, CIRAD, CNRS, INRA, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France¶ Meise Botanic Garden, Domein van Bouchout, Nieuwelaan 38, BE-1860 Meise, Belgium# Plant Systematics and Ecology Laboratory, Higher Teachers’ Training College, University of Yaoundé I, P.O. Box 047, Yaoundé, Cameroon¤ Missouri Botanical Garden, Africa and Madagascar Department, P.O. Box 299, St. Louis, Missouri 63166-0299, United States of America
Open Access

Background and aims – The rapid expansion of human activities in South Cameroon, particularly mining in mountainous areas, threatens this region’s exceptional biodiversity. To comprehend the effects of land-use change on plant diversity and identify conservation priorities, we aim at providing a first comprehensive plant checklist of the Ngovayang Massif, focusing on the two richest plant families, Orchidaceae and Rubiaceae.

Location – The Ngovayang Massif Area (NMA) is located in the South Region of Cameroon. It is covered by lowland and submontane rainforest (100 to 1110 m elevation).

Methods – We compiled a dataset of 6116 georeferenced herbarium specimens, of which 2787 belong to Rubiaceae and Orchidaceae. We used rarefaction methods to explore sampling and diversity patterns, and investigated the altitudinal distribution of rare and/or threatened taxa.

Key results – The NMA, which houses about 1500 vascular plant taxa, is the richest documented area for Rubiaceae in Atlantic Central Africa (ACA) and the fifth for Orchidaceae, with respectively 281 and 111 taxa. Among these taxa, 178 (45%) are endemic to ACA and 67 (17%) are considered globally threatened according to IUCN categories and criteria. We show that higher elevation areas (> 750 m), which are also the main areas targeted for mining, are the richest in endangered and/or rare species. Three new records for Cameroon are reported here.

Conclusion – The NMA represents an Important Plant Area of Cameroon as confirmed by its exceptional plant diversity (> 20% of the total Flora of Cameroon), by the concentration of many threatened and/or restricted range species (10 taxa are strict endemics of the massif) as well as by the threat on rare habitats (i.e. the submontane vegetation above ~750 m elevation). A management plan involving in situ and ex situ conservation actions is urgently needed to reduce the potential threats of future mining activities.

biodiversity, endangered species, Important Plant Area, iron and gold exploitation, new records, orchids, Rubiaceae, submontane forest


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