African Mountain Research Times - October 2017

AfroMont Mountain Research and News Digest, October 2017

201707 IntroAfroMont, a knowledge sharing platform, was initiated in 2007 by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) to focus research attention on the diverse issues and challenges facing the mountainous regions of sub-Saharan Africa. AfroMont is an online media platform, now with ten years of activities, all with a focus on Africa mountain research and Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) in African countries. We follow advances in African mountain research and issues including news and specialized opinion articles covering all aspects of global change in mountains.

Photo credit: Sue Taylor. Towards Lesotho and the Maloti Mountains, South Africa.



AfroMont now has a Facebook page, see

Editorial – Seeking photographs and information on large scale land acquisitions in African mountains

I have a PhD student, Mr Kablan Effossou, who is tackling the topic of African mountains: governance and large scale land acquisition as a new risk to mountain landscapes. This is largely a desktop investigative study with a review of existing mountain governance mechanisms globally and in Africa, and how these are holding up against land use change, particularly related to large scale land acquisitions (‘land grabbing’) in and around Africa’s mountains.

He needs to create a photo-record of this type of agricultural project in African mountains and their lowlands, particularly of the ecological and social damage they may cause. He is looking for good quality digital photographs (jpegs) of recent (after 2008) large scale agricultural projects in the Kenya, Tanzania and Cameroon and their mountains (and, if possible, other African mountains). It is very alarming that these types of agricultural projects are taking place in areas with well-identified vulnerable and charismatic species like chimpanzee (See the paper by JM Linder. African Primate Diversity Threatened by “New Wave” of Industrial Oil Palm Expansion. African Primates 8:25-38 (2013).

There is a wealth of material on the internet about this scourge. See developments in Mozambique

201710 aerialphoto landgrabbing
Aerial photo of the lands taken by Addax Bioenergy for its sugar cane plantation in Sierra Leone. (Photo: Le Temps),

If you have this type of digital photograph with dates, a description of the locality and some information about the agricultural project (e.g. the type of crop grown, the scale and how many hectares, has forest been removed, is the planting in a wetland, and any details about irrigation and use of agricultural chemicals) and other impacts (or even the benefit), we would appreciate receiving them, thank you. Email to both and


Read the full AfroMont News Digest here!


Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) aims to generate fundamentally new climate science focused on Africa, and to ensure that this science has an impact on human development across the continent. See

One of their latest outputs is a paper titled : ‘Evaluating climate models with an African lens’ by Dr. Rachel James, Prof. Richard Washington, Dr. Babatunde Abiodun, Dr. Gillian Kay, Dr. Joseph Mutemi, Dr. Wilfried Pokam, Dr. Neil Hart, Dr. Guleid Artan, and Dr. Cath Senior (2017).

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Abstract: Climate models are becoming ever more complex, and increasingly relied upon to inform climate change adaptation. Yet progress in model development is lagging behind in many of the regions which need the information most, including in Africa. Targeted model development for Africa is crucial; and so too is targeted model evaluation. Assessment of model performance in specific regions often follows a “validation” approach, focusing on mean biases; but if models are to be improved, it is important to understand how they simulate regional climate dynamics: to move from validation to process-based evaluation. This evaluation may be different for every region, and requires local weather and climate expertise: “one-size fits all” could overlook important, region-specific phenomena. So which are the important processes in African regions? And how might they be evaluated? This paper addresses these questions, drawing on the expertise of a team of scientists from Central, East, Southern, and West Africa. For each region current understanding of climate models is reviewed, and an example of targeted evaluation is provided, including analysis of moist circulations, teleconnections, and modes of variability. A pan-African perspective is also considered, to examine processes operating between regions. The analysis is based on the Met Office Unified Model, but using diagnostics which might be applied to other models. These examples are intended to prompt further discussion among climate modellers and African scientists about how to best evaluate models with an African lens, and promote the development of a model evaluation hub for Africa, to fast-track understanding of model behavior for this important continent.



REPORT: Paris Agreement 2015 and 10 propositions for success: Integrating international climate change commitments into national development planning

A new report by Neil Bird of ODI and Claire Monkhouse and Katharine Booth of CDKN examines how to support the successful integration of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) into national development planning. African case studies in the report include Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 signalled a major transition in the international climate change governance regime. The Agreement outlines the agreed global process for when the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2020. One of the building blocks of the Agreement is the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), to which individual countries commit, in order to achieve the objective of keeping global warming as far as possible below 2°C, with the aim of 1.5°C. NDCs reflect each country’s ambition for reducing emissions, considering their domestic circumstances and capabilities. In addition, developing countries have given emphasis in their first NDCs to how they will adapt to the impacts of climate change, and the finance and other forms of support they will need to deliver their commitments and action. In future, countries will be required to submit updated and more ambitious NDCs every five years, starting in 2020. Consequently, NDCs are now central to the long-term international and domestic climate change policy landscape.  This paper develops a set of ten propositions that, if followed, would likely secure this objective. Each proposition is examined using evidence primarily from seven countries where the Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) has supported the development and early implementation of NDCs. It provides illustrations of these propositions in practice, drawing on experience from CDKN’s technical assistance and elsewhere.

Findings: The evidence suggests that the policy and planning framework in the seven countries examined is generally supportive of mainstreaming climate change actions into national development planning; that there are challenges in securing institutional effectiveness for the delivery of NDC commitments, often reflecting differing capacities across sectors and different levels of government; and that the financing of NDCs remains unclear, being dependent to-date on national budget allocations for which there has been limited monitoring of the relevant spending.

Download the report here: 10 propositions for success: Integrating international climate change commitments into national development planning



About environmental crime

201710 environmentalcrimeIn the international community, there is now growing recognition that the issue of the illegal wildlife trade has reached significant global proportions. Illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime involve a wide range of flora and fauna across all continents, estimated to be worth USD 70–213 billion annually. This compares to a global official development assistance envelope of about 135 billion USD per annum.  Environmental crime is said to be more lucrative and less risky than many traditional criminal activities, and environmental crime is growing largely unchecked. Environmental crimes, is said to be the fourth most important source of revenue for organised crime after drugs, human and arms trafficking. 

In 2014, a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Interpol estimated the value of illegal and environmentally harmful activities at between $70 and $213 billion per year and this is likely to be a conservative estimate. Activities include illegal deforestation, poaching, trafficking of protected species, fishing, mining and dumping.

Interesting work is being done to use remote sensing to track illegal storage and shipment of timber, for example, from Madagascar.



Recent Publications from Uganda

1. Nakileza, B.R., Majaliwa, M.J., Wandera, A. and Nantumbwe, C.M., 2017, ‘Enhancing resilience to landslide disaster risks through rehabilitation of slide scars by local communities in Mt Elgon, Uganda’, Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies 9(1),a390.

2. Meredith A. Kelly, James M. Russell, Margaret B. Baber, Jennifer A. Howley, Shannon E. Loomis, Susan Zimmerman, Bob Nakileza and Joshua Lukaye. Expanded glaciers during a dry and cold Last Glacial Maximum in equatorial East Africa. GEOLOGY. doi:10.1130/G35421.1

3. Oyana T. J. and Nakileza B. R. (2016) Assessing adaptability and response of vegetation to glacier recession in the Afro-Alpine Moorland Terrestrial Ecosystem of Rwenzori Mountains. Journal of Mountain Science. DOI:10.1007/s11629-015-3504-z.

201710 ruralurbandynamics

A new book publication called ‘Rural Urban Dynamics in the East African Mountains’ was launched by Dr Nakileza’s group. It was a product of collaborative research under the CORUS support.

Dr Nakileza’s group is also implementing a research and capacity building SIDA supported project [2015-2020] on "Partnership for Building Resilient Ecosystems and Livelihoods to Climate Change and Disaster Risks in Uganda' (BREAD). The project is supporting three PhD students and the main research site is Mt Elgon and the Highlands of south-west Uganda.

201710 ediblefunghi

FAO Corporate Document Repository – edible fungi
Edible Fungi: Wild edible fungi a global overview of their use and importance to people. Download the full document as a pdf.




World hunger again on the rise, driven by conflict and climate change, a new UN report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (2017) finds

The report is the first UN global assessment on food security and nutrition to be released following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as a top international policy priority.

It singles out conflict – increasingly compounded by climate change – as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition.

"Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature," the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in their joint foreword to the report. They stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.

The impact of conflict

  • Number of the 815 million hungry people on the planet who live in countries affected by conflict: 489 million
  • The prevalence of hunger in countries affected by conflict is 1.4 - 4.4 percentage points higher than in other countries
  • In conflict settings compounded by conditions of institutional and environmental fragility, the prevalence is 11 and 18 percentage points higher
  • People living in countries affected by protracted crises are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be undernourished than people elsewhere



Editor’s Choice - selected new literature

The Mainstreaming of Climate Change and Variability Information into Planning and Policy Development for Africa. L. Ogalloa (2010). Procedia Environmental Sciences 1 (2010) 405–410.

Abstract: The economies of Africa are predominantly dependent on rainfed agriculture and the associated industries. Current and future sustainable socio-economic development of the African nations will therefore heavily depend on the ability to cope with the current climate variability as well as adaptation to future climate changes. Some lessons and experiences that have been gained from many years of operations at the IGAD(Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) on issues related to mainstreaming climate change/variability information into the planning/policy development in the Greater Horn of Africa (GHA) are described. A short summary of the lessons and experiences from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Drought Monitoring Centre (DMC-SADC); and the African Centre of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) is provided. Keywords: Observations and climate database; climate information and delivery systems; regional climate outlook forums; capacity building; research, knowledge development and management.


Litho-and biostratigraphy, facies patterns and depositional sequences of the Cenomanian-Turonian deposits in the Ksour Mountains (Saharan Atlas, Algeria). Benyouce, M; Mebarki, K; Ferre, B; Adaci, M; Bulot, LG; Desmares, D; Villier, L; Bensalah, M; Frau, C; Ifrim, C; Malti, FZ (2017). CRETACEOUS RESEARCH, 78 34-55; 10.1016/j.cretres.


Evaluation of satellite-model proxies for hydro-meteorological services in the upper Zambezi. Mark R. Jury (2017). Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, Volume 13, October 2017, Pages 91-109.


A new genus and other new species of Agraeciini from the Eastern Arc Mountains, East Africa (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae; Conocephalinae; Agraeciini). Hemp, C; Ingrisch, S; Heller, KG (2017). ZOOTAXA, 4311 (1):1-22; 10.11646/zootaxa.4311.1.1 AUG 22.


North-west Africa as a source and refuge area of plant biodiversity: a case study on Campanula kremeri and Campanula occidentalis. Garcia-Aloy, S; Vitales, D; Roquet, C; Sanmartin, I; Vargas, P; Molero, J; Kamau, P; Aldasoro, JJ; Alarcon, M (2017). JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY, 44 (9):2057-2068; 10.1111/jbi.12997 SEP 2017.


Demographic history and population genetic structure of Hagenia abyssinica (Rosaceae), a tropical tree endemic to the Ethiopian highlands and eastern African mountains. Gichira, AW; Li, ZZ; Saina, JK; Hu, GW; Gituru, RW; Wang, QF; Chen, JM (2017). TREE GENETICS & GENOMES, 13 (4):10.1007/s11295-017-1156-6 AUG 2017.


Preliminary observations on the avifauna of Ikokoto Forest, Udzungwa Mountains, Tanzania. Werema, C; McEntee, JP; Mulungu, E; Mbilinyi, M (2017). EUROPEAN ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL, 84 (1):19-+; 2017.


Phylogenetic patterns of extinction risk in the Eastern Arc ecosystems, an African biodiversity hotspot. Yessoufou K, Daru BH and Davies TJ (2017). PLoS ONE 7(10): e47082 [].


Checklist of ferns and seed plants of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, South Africa. Daemane ME, Van Wyk BE and Moteetee A (2017). Bothalia 40(2): 175-189.


The concept of ‘Musa-pelo’ and the medicinal use of shrubby legumes (Fabaceae) in Lesotho. Moteetee A. and VanWyk B-E. (2007). Bothalia37 (1): 75-77.


A spatial evaluation of global wildfire-water risks to human and natural systems. François-Nicolas Robinne, Kevin D. Bladon, Carol Miller, Marc-André Parisien, Jérôme Mathieu, Mike D. Flannigan (2018). Science of The Total Environment, Volumes 610–611, 1 January 2018, Pages 1193-1206.


Climate change and water security: challenges for adaptive water management. Catherine Allan, Jun Xia, Claudia Pahl-Wostl (2013). Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 6, December 2013, Pages 625-632.


Reductionist and integrative research approaches to complex water security policy challenges. Mark Zeitoun, Bruce Lankford, Tobias Krueger, Nathanial Matthews (2016). Global Environmental Change, Volume 39, July 2016, Pages 143-154.


Integrated spatial ecosystem model for simulating land use change and assessing vulnerability to flooding. Yu-Tsun Chang, Ying-Chieh Lee, Shu-Li Huang (2017). Ecological Modelling, Volume 362, 24 October 2017, Pages 87-100.