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Research in the Cameroonian canopy

To better understand and protect tropical forests, researchers need access to the canopy. In November 2013, two members of the EnQuête d'Arbres association went to Cameroon to give technical ascension solutions to scientists who need to climb tall trees in a tropical environment. The Petzl Foundation contributed to the funding of this trip.

SEPTEMBER 2014

Research in the Cameroonian canopy

  • Project partner: EnQuête d'Arbres association, with: the Institute of Research for Development (IRD - Montpellier), www.ird.fr
  • Country: Cameroon, Africa
  • Project type: Preservation of the environment
  • Budget: €4 000 in 2013

The first training session was attended by three Cameroonian PhD students from the University of Yaoundé, a British specialist in rainforest creepers, a Belgian researcher from the Institute of Research for Development and their Cameroonian driver-guide who wanted to be trained in order to help scientists access the canopy.

The group already had good knowledge of tropical forests, but from ground level only. Their desire to gain a new research perspective from the top of the trees gave them wings! On the third day, every one of these novice climbers reached the top of a 35-meter tree.

Some of them actualy moved around inside the crown. Their skills need to be developed, but the group's progress was impressive. The extreme height was a reminder to everyone involved that humans are better suited to horizontal movement and so their ascension was a significant accomplishment. The tropical forest canopy was a revelation for these scientists who are now furthering their research from a different angle.

This type of in situ training taught the trainees how to deal with environmental constraints, especially the crowded floor space in tropical forests. Some of them stayed on for another ten days to consolidate their new skills.

Epiphytic orchids © Laurent Pierron
Harvest and inventory of epiphytic orchids. With their aerial roots anchored to the trees, these orchids thrive in tropical forests.

Nyong River in a pirogue © Laurent Pierron
Going up the Nyong River in a pirogue: another means of transport to explore the tropical forests of Cameroon!

Photos : Laurent Pierron

Laurent Pierron, president of EnQuête d'Arbres association, says:

Laurent Pierron © Boris Dufour For many years, scientists studied the forest from the ground up. Researchers are now turning to the treetops. Exploring the canopy has now become an important field of research. To achieve good results during training, it is essential to confront the reality on the ground. The difficulty encountered in this environment is a factor not to be taken lightly.
We are trying to provide practical solutions based on our experience. In Cameroon, the PhD students we have trained have acquired another point of view, thanks to this new experience."

Photo : Boris Dufour


Laurent Pierron

Exploring the Ebogo giant

Laurent Pierron says: "We heard about a huge tree south of Mbalmayo, three kilometers from the village of Ebogo. The tree towers above the forest canopy.

When climbing it, we encountered the usual tropical forest climbing difficulties: crowded floor space, height of the first branch, choice of anchor for fixing the rope, extreme heat, and annoying insects.

However our efforts were amply rewarded. This Kossippo is nearly 60 meters tall, and about 40 meters wide at the top. We got an absolutely amazing view over the forest from the top! "

Uploaded in september 2014


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