Video: Tropical montane forests in a warming world

Johan Uddling and Etienne Zibera at one of the experimental sites. Photo: Johan Wingborg.

Video: Tropical montane forests in a warming world

“Rwanda, the land of a thousand hills, depends on its forests and trees that protect soil fertility, preserve biodiversity, help to cope with climate change and provide fuel for cooking. But the forests used to be much vaster.” Eric Mirindi Dusenge, Focali member and researcher at University of Gothenburg, is part of a project to find out how native tree species can contribute to tackling ongoing challenges in a warming world.

Tropical montane forests are important for the provision of several ecosystems services, particularly water flows and biodiversity preservation. With projected increased temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns under global warming, their provisioning capacity is at risk.

In Nyungwe national park, some of the tree species that grow really big cannot be found at lower elevation. The higher up on the mountain, the cooler the climate. But with creeping increased temperatures, there might not be higher elevations for the trees to reach.

“One species, Carapa Grandiflora, which is the favorite species for the chimpanzees, is doing well at sites with lower temperatures, but at other sites with warmer temperatures it’s suffering greatly. So in a future warmer climate they, and other climate sensitive species, might be at risk,” says Johan Uddling, Focali member and researcher at Gothenburg University, and Brigitte Nyirambangutse, Doctor at the Rwanda Environment Management Authority.

In this project, a group of researchers from University of Gothenburg, the University of Rwanda and the Rwanda Agricultural Board examines how tree species native to Rwanda respond to different temperatures, water access and nutrients.

“We want to look at how global warming affect tropical forests in Rwanda. If we conduct research on species that can be used by farmers in the future, they will survive,” says Donat Nsabimana, Associate Professor at University of Rwanda. 

Eric Mirindi Dusenge means that this project envisions a future for Rwanda where trees and forests contribute to tackling ongoing challenges such as soil erosion, population growth and climate change. “Through international collaboration, this project builds partnership to create a green future for Rwanda and the region as a whole,” Eric concludes.

Watch the full video here.

The video is produced by Johan Wingborg and Eva Lundgren, and funded by the Swedish strategic research area BECC

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