AfroMont, 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 eight 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: Dr Clinton Carbutt. Drakensberg wildflower.
The biodiversity community work hard to alert politicians, decision makers, land owners, farmers and other professionals about the dangers of alien invasive species (AIS), with little apparent success. This is especially true if the AIS has not reached ‘major infestation’ status, but will become costly if left unchecked. Time and time again one sees that unless there are laws requiring land-owners to eradicate alien vegetation, this problem is not tackled with enough vigour. Alien animals are even more difficult to control and/or eradicate because of their more subtle techniques of spread.
In African countries, there are many AIS control programmes, but there is nothing available regionally or at the continental level to deal with the containment and further spread of important invasive species. This means that in many African countries there are inadequate policy frameworks and a general lack of technical capacity in the deployment of AIS management actions.
But what if invasive species began to seriously affect food production and food security? We must understand that the problem of alien invasive species and food production goes further than just the problem of ‘agricultural weeds’. Alien invasive species have the potential to change ecosystems and landscapes, forests, waterways and catchments, and massively reduce the productivity of farm lands. Alien species affect crop lands as well as grazing lands, affect wildlife habitat and can even contribute to malaria endemicity by providing sugar-feeding plants for mosquito vectors. Understanding this risk could be a key to addressing alien species in a coordinated way in Africa.
The AfroMont-Mt Kili mountain research meeting has come and gone and was a small, but satisfying event that brought both African and European scholars together to discuss a wide range of mountain research topics. Presentations covered vegetation change on the slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro to mountain dung beetles, changes in the Pangani River Basin, and even the ancient lineages of endemic Lobelias in the mountains of East Africa. You should come next time – there will be something of interest that will make you think differently about Africa’s very beautiful mountains and the still vast amount of research that is needed to help us understand how they are changing. Attending the conference were new PhD students and seasoned African researchers and policy makers from Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Germany. Scientists from other regions wanted to attend but as always, funding for conference travel was a problem. The next AfroMont conference organised for African mountain science will be in Morocco in 2019.
Ethiopia is confronted by the challenges of a growing population and a diminishing natural resources base. The country’s economic growth has relied heavily on agriculture, but progress in this sector has been hampered by the lack of access to agricultural inputs like fertiliser. Ethiopia has devised a range of development strategies for meeting agricultural and energy needs through the extraction of coal resources. Exploiting the considerable coal deposits found in Ethiopia’s south-western Afromontane forests would produce coal phosphate fertiliser and electricity in the coming decades. However, the forests are sites of exceptional biodiversity. With these conflicting interests in an area of high biodiversity, Ethiopia now faces pressure from competing uses of forestland, forcing the government to identify ecologically and economically feasible approaches to reconcile biodiversity conservation and coal extraction. Download - English
Suleman K K (2017). South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) Policy Insights No 40, March 2017
Call for papers: Exploring the links between water, food, energy, and mountain ecosystems
The connections between food, water, and energy constitute a complex system that interacts with mountain ecosystems and factors of change. Mountain Research and Development is looking for papers that assess experiences of negotiating synergies and trade-offs among water, energy, and food; that analyze the dynamic interplay between these interconnected services and mountain ecosystems; or that offer agendas for future research or policy aiming at increasing the equitability and sustainability of trade-offs and synergies in mountain areas. Abstracts are due by 24 April 2017, full papers by 1 August 2017.
The Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) is the premier international gathering of investigative and data journalists, held once every two years. This year, the 10th conference will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from November 16 to 19, and is being co-hosted by the Global Investigative Journalism Network and the Wits University Journalism Programme. With the support of our sponsors, GIJN and Wits Journalism are offering fellowships to both established and young promising journalists in developing and transitioning countries to participate in this prestigious event. Competition is keen so you need to convince us that you’ll make great use of the training GIJC17 offers. We will be offering between 40 and 60 fellowships to African journalists, and nearly 100 more for journalists elsewhere.
This is not about mountains, but it is an opportunity for African journalists to attend a global conference – scholarships provided to 60 African fellows. AfroMont recommends that Environmental Journalists from Africa consider applying.
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AfroMont was initiated to focus research attention on the diverse problems facing the mountainous regions of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar, as well as share information that may lead to the development of science-based solutions required for sustainable mountain development in the long term.
Anyone with an interest in African mountains and mountain research can contribute to this Digest, or to the blogs or the website. Please liaise with or send short concise material and photographs to Dr Sue Taylor. The AfroMont Research Digest is sent out every month to about 700 email addresses of the AfroMont Network.