Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 8, pp 1877–1894 | Cite as

Major gaps in the distribution of protected areas for threatened and narrow range Afrotropical plants

  • Neil BurgessEmail author
  • Wolfgang KÜper
  • Jens Mutke
  • Joanna Brown
  • Sally Westaway
  • Susie Turpie
  • Charles Meshack
  • James Taplin
  • Colin McClean
  • Jon C. Lovett


We investigated the major patterns of plant rarity in sub-Saharan Africa, and looked for the most significant gaps in the reserve network of the region in terms of representing the distribution of threatened and geographically rare plants. Comparisons of the species ranges captured by the network of reserves were made against the proportion of species captured by randomly generated sets of areas and against a theoretical near minimum set of areas that represent all species once. At this scale of analysis, the network of large IUCN-coded reserves (the official ‘protected areas’) performs poorly against random and systematic selection procedures. Significant gaps in the IUCN-coded protected areas are in coastal Gabon/Cameroon, in the various tropical montane forest areas (Cameroon Highlands, Eastern Arc Mountains, Ethiopian Mountains), in lowland coastal eastern Africa, and in the South African Cape. Some of these gaps, for example in the Eastern Arc and eastern African coastal regions, are covered on the ground by a network of Forest Reserves under the management of national Forestry Authorities. The networks of Forest Reserves in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Sierra Leone also fill reservation gaps for rare African plants in these countries. Upgrading the conservation status of some key Forest Reserves, which has been gradually happening for some decades, is proposed as an efficient way to enhance the protected area network of the Afrotropical region for the conservation of rare African plant species.


Afrotropical region Forest reserves Geographically rare plants IUCN-coded protected areas Threatened plants 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil Burgess
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wolfgang KÜper
    • 2
  • Jens Mutke
    • 2
  • Joanna Brown
    • 3
  • Sally Westaway
    • 3
  • Susie Turpie
    • 3
  • Charles Meshack
    • 4
  • James Taplin
    • 3
  • Colin McClean
    • 3
  • Jon C. Lovett
    • 3
  1. 1.Conservation Biology Group, Zoology DepartmentWWF-US Conservation Science Program, University of CambridgeWashington, CambridgeUSA, UK
  2. 2.Nees Institute for the Biodiversity of PlantsUniversity of BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Centre for Ecology, Law and Policy, Environment DepartmentUniversity of YorkYorkUK
  4. 4.Tanzania Forest Conservation GroupDar es SalaamTanzania

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