My research interests, at the interphase between natural and social sciences, have focused on tropical forest ecology, carbon stocks, ethnobotany, forest use by local communities and forest conservation. I have been involved in several multidisciplinary collaborative research projects, in over ten countries in Africa. Apart from publishing in peer-reviewed journals, I am involved in disseminating results to wider audiences (from local communities to policy makers) and in science outreach, as I believe ‘science should be useful to people’. I am committed to capacity building in Africa, teaching in short courses and being an advisor for several African PhD students. My current research project focuses on African montane forests and assesses ecosystem services, threats and potential management strategies.
African montane forests are biodiversity rich and unique ecosystems. They provide numerous benefits to human beings at both local and regional scales: water, timber, firewood and building materials, medicinal plants, wild fruits and honey, among others. They also play an important role in hazard prevention, climate modulation, carbon sequestration and lowland water and food security. Unfortunately, they are amongst the most threatened ecosystems on Earth due to the combined effects of climate change, population growth and land use change. They remain overexploited (logging, poaching, mining, conversion to agriculture) and understudied. As they are key for the livelihoods of millions of people, finding the balance between forest conservation and sustainable use is particularly challenging, and lack of accurate data and insight into these ecosystems hampers management interventions.
This collaborative socio-ecological research project will create the first synthetic overview of four key aspects of African montane forests: ecosystem services provided, current and future threats, socio-ecological functioning and potential management interventions. It will compile information from several sources (including a field campaign in Mt Kahuzi-Bienga in DRC and Mt Oku in Cameroon) and it will use state-of-the art analysing methods (e.g. socio-ecological modelling using Bayesian statistics). Apart from scientific publications, which will advance our understanding of the socio-ecological functioning of these fragile ecosystems, we will produce and disseminate management recommendations and policy briefs. Lessons learned will be shared with a wide range of stakeholders, as the ultimate goal is to help ensure the long term existence of these forests and the services they provide without excluding their local communities.
Building on from our collaborative research work in northern Kenya, which was highly appreciated by both local communities and managers (see https://vimeo.com/221740544/fc6e4a7e02 ), we will replicate and upscale, thanks to our collaborations with Mountain Sentinels (https://mountainsentinels.org/ ), Mountain Research Initiative and AfroMont, among other networks. We cannot reverse ongoing environmental changes, but we can better adapt to them.