Mulanje 97

Nicola Beharrell

Mount Mulanje, situated in the far south-east corner of Malawi, is the largest mountainous massif in the afromontane archipelago. Working in this unique area the project aims to highlight the conservation issues and shape future management policy decisions for the Mulanje cedar (Widdringtonia nodiflora) and the uninhabitated Mulanje Massif. Collaborating with the Forestry Research Institute of Malawi and the National Herbarium of Malawi, this team of British and Malawian students will build upon valuable data acquired from Mulanje 96, by continuing and expanding the assessment of natural regeneration of the Mulanje cedar.

Project update: 7/8/97. This project was the third Mulanje expedition originating from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, and took place between July and September 1997. Aiming to follow up on the previous year’s expedition to the region, the project’s objectives were to deduce optimum conditions for the regeneration of the Mulanje cedar tree (Widdingtronia whyter) and formulate the basis of a management plan. The university team was joined by four Malawian biologists from the University of Malawi. Forest sites were selected in three areas, reflecting variation in size and health of mature cedar trees. Natural regeneration, measurements of mature cedar, and vegetation structure were assessed using a quadrat sampling method. Results showed that regeneration was greater in places where the canopy height was lower. Results from these initial stages of data analysis seemed to complement the work from 1996. Copies of floral collections made during the study were given to the Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust and the National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens of Malawi.