The Smithsonian’s Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO), a program of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, watches over the health of the planet at 66 forest plots in 27 countries. Smithsonian scientists in collaboration with more than 100 partner organizations worldwide are monitoring tropical and temperate forests and the diversity of life they support, with more than 6 million trees and 10,000 species under observation worldwide.
In 2014, Smithsonian added Ngel Nyaki to the network, one of two remaining montane forests in Nigeria. Nigeria has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with only about 46 square kilometers of montane forest remaining. Smithsonian is joining with local communities and the Nigerian Montane Forest Project to better understand and conserve montane forests in Nigeria.
Ngel Nyaki is the best representation of the typical montane forest ecosystem in this region and will be home to the first long-term forest monitoring of large-seeded tree species. These include Carapa oreaphila and Cordia millenii trees, whose seeds were historically dispersed by large primates like chimps, of which there remain very few in the area, or by elephants, now locally extinct. Expanding hunting ranges, deforestation for grazing, and encroachment from human communities threaten these primate species and the trees that depend on them to survive.
The plot at Ngel Nyaki builds on the work of the Nigerian Montane Forest Project of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, in long-term forest science monitoring and capacity building. The plot is a partnership between Smithsonian, the University of Canterbury, the Nigerian Montane Forest Project and Chester Zoo (UK), and is funded entirely by Retired General T.Y. Danjuma, of Taraba State, Nigeria. The plot at Ngel Nyaki will contribute information about montane forest ecosystems to a global ForestGEO data set, increasing our understanding of Earth’s forests and our changing climate.