Matibane Forest

Floresta de Matibane

MOZTIPA005
Matibane Forest

Country: Mozambique

Administrative region: Nampula (Province)

Central co-ordinates: 14.71331 S, 40.80208 E

Area: 45.4km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species, C(iii)Site contains nationally threatened or restricted habitat or vegetation types, AND/OR habitats that have severely declined in extent nationally

IPA assessment rationale

Matibane Forest qualifies as an IPA under criteria A and C. Under sub-criterion A(i), the site supports important populations of fourteen globally threatened plant species. Under criterion C(iii) the site includes a significant area of coastal dry forest of the Rovuma CoE, including patches dominated by Icuria and Micklethwaitia, for which this is considered to be one of the best five sites nationally.
Overall, the site is known to support 10 plant species of high conservation importance as defined under IPA criterion B(ii). Nine of these are nationally endemic species, while the tenth is a regional endemic with a restricted range of less than 10,000 km2. Since there are fewer than 16 species of high conservation importance, the site does not meet the threshold to qualify as an IPA under criterion B(ii) for Mozambique. However, the flora at this site has not been extensively surveyed to date and may support other qualifying species.

Site description

Matibane Forest is a coastal site in Mossuril District of Nampula Province, ca. 20 km to the south-east of Nacala town and 12 km north of Matibane village. The site consists of a core area of coastal dry forest and a zone of coastal scrub and thicket, ca. 2 km wide, to the north east between the forest edge and shore. Matibane was gazetted as a Forest Reserve in 1957 (Portaria No. 8459 of 22.7.57), originally for the protection and recovery of Androstachys johnsonii, an overexploited timber tree. The reserve is co-managed by government and local communities. Although there is no settlement within the core zone of the Forest Reserve, there are three communities living around the edge: Crusse to the south, and Inago and Namalasa to the north-west. Local people cultivate machambas (small-scale areas of cultivation) within the coastal zone. The intact Rovuma coastal dry forest at this site is of global conservation importance and the site is of particular interest for being the only locality globally where the threatened legume genera Icuria and Micklethwaitia, both endemic to Mozambique, occur together.

Botanical significance

Matibane Forest is of high botanical importance for the ca. 23 km2 of intact coastal dry forest within the southern portion of proposed Rovuma Centre of Plant Endemism (Burrows & Timberlake 2011; Darbyshire et al. 2019a), this being one of the most highly threatened and fragmented habitat types in Mozambique. It is a critical site for Icuria dunensis, a globally Endangered tree species endemic to Mozambique for which Matibane Forest is the northernmost known locality (Darbyshire et al. 2019b). This tree is highly restricted and known from few sites along a ca. 360 km stretch of coastline, where it occurs in small and fragmented forest patches, many of which are under increasing pressure from human encroachment. Matibane Forest is currently the only protected area where this tree occurs. Here, Icuria dunensis grows with the important timber species Androstachys johnsonii (LC), with approximately 0.84 km2 of Icuria-dominated forest recorded in the central portion of this site. Matibane has been identified as one of only three Icuria forests assessed to be in “very good condition” using a Forest Ecological Condition Index (A. Massingue, pers. comm.), the others being Mogincual [MOZTIPA029] and Moebase [MOZTIPA032].
A second nationally endemic tree species of high importance at this site is Micklethwaitia carvalhoi (VU), which is here at the southernmost end if its range and is locally abundant with some dominant or co-dominant stands, particularly in the northern portion of the reserve.
Other threatened species of note at this site are Hexalobus mossambicensis (VU), Monanthotaxis trichantha (VU), Pavetta dianeae (EN), Premna tanganyikensis (VU) and Tarenna pembensis (EN). In total, Matibane Forest supports nine nationally endemic plant species and fourteen species that are threatened with extinction. Botanical inventory of this important site is currently incomplete, and a full survey is desirable as it may well reveal further rare and threatened plant species.

Habitat and geology

The principal habitat at Matibane is low-lying, semi-evergreen, dry coastal forest with flat or slightly undulating topography on deep sands (Müller et al. 2005). The forest canopy is dominated by Androstachys johnsonii, often forming almost pure stands or mixed with either Icuria dunensis or Micklethwaitia carvalhoi. Other tree species noted by Müller et al. (2005) include Afzelia quanzensis, Albizia forbesii, A. glaberrima, Balanites maughamii, Fernandoa magnifica, Markhamia obtusifolia, Mimusops caffra, Schrebera trichoclada and Sclerocarya birrea, but none of these are ever dominant. The forest understorey is dense and rich in small trees, shrubs and lianas, with a Combretum sp., several Strychnos spp. and a number of Rubiaceae including Hyperacanthus microphyllus - here at the northernmost extent of its range – all common; Hymenocardia ulmoides was also noted to be common by Müller et al. (2005). To the north-east of the forest, between the forest edge and the shore, there is a zone of coastal scrub and thicket vegetation.
Matibane is noted to have a particularly high density of Icuria trees where it is dominant, although it is restricted here to less than 1 km2 of the Forest Reserve (A. Massingue, pers. comm.). Seedling and sapling recruitment has been observed to be good.
Rainfall is rather low, with an average annual rainfall of 800 mm per year recorded at nearby Nacala, which is concentrated in the months December to March. Temperatures remain high throughout the year with average monthly high temperatures varying from 29 – 31C at Nacala (weatherbase.com).

Conservation issues

Illegal logging and charcoal production pose a serious threat to Matibane Forest. Androstachys johnsonii, known as ‘mecrusse’, is selectively logged from within the core zone of the forest reserve. Micklethwaitia carvalhoi, known as ‘ivate’, is cut for construction locally, particularly around the north edge of the forest and is also used for charcoal making within the forest. Environmental officers (Fiscais) from each of the three local communities are employed part time (for example, three days per week) but have insufficient resources to control the illegal activity. They patrol on foot as they have no access to vehicles. Some illegal hunting of ‘impala’ takes place within the forest. A non-native Opuntia (cactus) species occurs along a disused railway line but does not appear to have spread through the forest.
The current extent of the Forest Reserve is smaller than that originally gazetted and most of the natural habitat in the oroginal southwest extent of the reserve has now been cleared. Evidence from Google Earth (2021) imagery shows some notable declines in forest extent in the northern section of the current reserve buffer, but that this has stabilised since the mid-1990s. In these areas, fallow fields and regenerating areas dominated by Hyparrhenia spp. are frequent (Müller et al. 2005). These openings appear to be maintained by regular fires.
This site is also included within Mozambique’s Key Biodiversity Areas network on the basis of its population of Icuria dunensis (WCS et al. 2021).

Ecosystem services

The dry coastal forest at Matibane provides local timber for construction, in addition to medicinal plants that are used by the local communities. Timber species include Androstachys johnsonii ‘mecrusse’ and Micklethwaitia carvalhoi ‘ivate’.
The coastal scrub and thicket vegetation provides timber, rope and m’siro, a cosmetic product extracted from the roots of Olax dissitiflora. Economically important timber species include Afzelia quanzensis ‘chamfuta’, Dalbergia melanoxylon ‘pau-preto’ and Sterculia quinqueloba ‘metonha’ while rope is made from the bark of Sterculia africana. Other species from coastal scrub and thicket vegetation are used locally for harvesting fruit (Mimusops caffra, Sclerocarya birrea, Strychnos cocculoides and Strychnos spinosa) and wood for implement handles (Strychnos cocculoides).
It is also likely that both the dry coastal forest and coastal scrub and thicket act as a source pool for insect pollinators, contributing to the diversity of pollinators available for local machamba agriculture.

Site assessor(s)

Jo Osborne, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Hermenegildo Matimele, Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique

Iain Darbyshire, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

IPA criterion A species

Species Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 1% of global population ≥ 5% of national population 1 of 5 best sites nationally Entire global population Socio-economically important Abundance at site
Hexalobus mossambicensis N.Robson A(i) True True True False True Unknown
Icuria dunensis Wieringa A(i) True True True False True Abundant
Micklethwaitia carvalhoi (Harms) G.P.Lewis & Schrire A(i) True True True False True Abundant
Pavetta dianeae J.E.Burrows & S.M.Burrows A(i) True True True False False Occasional
Pavetta mocambicensis Bremek. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Tarenna pembensis J.E.Burrows A(i) True True True False False Occasional
Monanthotaxis trichantha (Diels) Verdc. A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Premna tanganyikensis Moldenke A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Psydrax micans (Bullock) Bridson A(i) False False True False False Unknown
Zanthoxylum tenuipedicellatum (Kokwaro) Vollesen A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Agelanthus longipes (Baker & Sprague) Polhill & Wiens A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Vitex carvalhi Gürke A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Paracephaelis trichantha (Baker) De Block A(i) False True True False False Unknown
Vitellariopsis kirkii (Baker) Dubard A(i) False True True False False Unknown

Hexalobus mossambicensis N.Robson

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Icuria dunensis Wieringa

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Abundant

Micklethwaitia carvalhoi (Harms) G.P.Lewis & Schrire

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
True
Abundance at site:
Abundant

Pavetta dianeae J.E.Burrows & S.M.Burrows

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Occasional

Pavetta mocambicensis Bremek.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Tarenna pembensis J.E.Burrows

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Occasional

Monanthotaxis trichantha (Diels) Verdc.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Premna tanganyikensis Moldenke

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Psydrax micans (Bullock) Bridson

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
False
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Zanthoxylum tenuipedicellatum (Kokwaro) Vollesen

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Agelanthus longipes (Baker & Sprague) Polhill & Wiens

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Vitex carvalhi Gürke

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
True
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Paracephaelis trichantha (Baker) De Block

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

Vitellariopsis kirkii (Baker) Dubard

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i)
≥ 1% of global population:
False
≥ 5% of national population:
True
1 of 5 best sites nationally:
True
Entire global population:
False
Socio-economically important:
False
Abundance at site:
Unknown

IPA criterion C qualifying habitats

Habitat Qualifying sub-criterion ≥ 5% of national resource ≥ 10% of national resource 1 of 5 best sites nationally Areal coverage at site
Rovuma Icuria Coastal Dry Forest C(iii) False False True 0.84
Rovuma Micklethwaitia Coastal Dry Forest C(iii) False True True

Rovuma Icuria Coastal Dry Forest

Qualifying sub-criterion:
C(iii)
≥ 5% of national resource:
False
≥ 10% of national resource:
False
Areal coverage at site:
0.84

Rovuma Micklethwaitia Coastal Dry Forest

Qualifying sub-criterion:
C(iii)
≥ 5% of national resource:
False
≥ 10% of national resource:
True
Areal coverage at site:

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Forest No value Major
Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Shrubland No value Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Forest

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry Shrubland

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Nature conservation No value Major

Nature conservation

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Major

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting Medium Ongoing - trend unknown
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming Low Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Small-holder farming

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Protected areas

Protected area name Protected area type Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Reserva Florestal de Matibane Forest Reserve (conservation) IPA encompasses protected/conservation area No value

Reserva Florestal de Matibane

Protected area type:
Forest Reserve (conservation)
Relationship with IPA:
IPA encompasses protected/conservation area
Areal overlap:
No value

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Reserva Florestal de Matibane Key Biodiversity Area protected/conservation area encompasses IPA No value

Reserva Florestal de Matibane

Protected area:
Key Biodiversity Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Bibliography

Müller, T., Sitoe, A. & Mabunda, R., 2005

Assessment of the Forest Reserve Network in Mozambique.

Available online

Darbyshire, I., Massingue, A.O., Osborne, J., De Sousa, C., Matimele, H.A., Alves, M.T., Burrows, J.E., Chelene, I., Datizua, C., Fijamo, V., Langa, C., Massunde, J., Mucaleque, P.A., Rokni, S. & Sitoe, P., 2019

Icuria dunensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T136532836A136538183.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Available online

Darbyshire, I., Timberlake, J., Osborne, J., Rokni, S., Matimele, H., Langa, C., Datizua, C., de Sousa, C., Alves, T., Massingue, A., Hadj-Hammou, J., Dhanda, S., Shah, T. & Wursten, B., 2019

The endemic plants of Mozambique: diversity and conservation status

PhytoKeys, Vol 136, page(s) 45-96 Available online

Google Earth, 2020

Google Earth Satellite Imagery

Available online

Burrows, J.E. & Timberlake, J.R., 2011

Mozambique’s centres of endemism, with special reference to the Rovuma Centre of Endemism of NE Mozambique and SE Tanzania.

South African Journal of Botany, Vol 77, page(s) 518

WCS, Government of Mozambique & USAID, 2021

Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) Identified in Mozambique: Factsheets VOL. II. Red List of threatened species and ecosystems, identification and mapping of key biodiversity areas (KBAs) in Mozambique. USAID / SPEED+

Recommended citation

Jo Osborne, Hermenegildo Matimele, Iain Darbyshire (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Matibane Forest (Mozambique). https://tipas.kew.org/site/matibane-forest-2/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)