By restoring the forests on the flanks of Mount Mulanje in Malawi, our project with the Mount Mulanje Conservation Trust is also regenerating the population of the iconic Mulanje Cedar (Widdringtonia whytei). This tree is considered critically endangered, as only a few naturally growing mature specimens remain. Their seeds are being used to repopulate the area, but even mature trees don’t cone consistently every year, so seed collection is unpredictable. Once germination has occurred, the handling of the seedlings during transplanting, as well as the depth and size of the planting pits, can all affect the sensitive seedlings even before the risks of fire and frost on the mountain summit! This year we’re on track to raise 120 000 indigenous seedlings for the project, including at least 60 000 cedars.
This project is also protecting the habitat of two endemic chameleons. Rhampholeon platyceps, the Mount Mulanje pygmy chameleon or Malawi stumptail chameleon, only lives in montane forests between 900 and 1900 meters above sea level. Nadzikambia mlanjensis, the Mulanje chameleon, has an even more limited range! Both are endangered, and their numbers are decreasing. Their future depends on restoring the forest.