Mbam Minkom Hills

CMNTIPA008
Mbam Minkom Hills

Country: Cameroon

Administrative region: Centre (Region)

Central co-ordinates: 3.96150 N, 11.39150 E

Area: 86km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

A(i)Site contains one or more globally threatened species

IPA assessment rationale

Mbam Minkom Hills qualifies as a potential IPA under criterion A(i) through the presence of around 20–25 threatened species with important populations at the site. Of these, Coffea fotsoana and Ariostolochia preussii have been assessed as Critically Endangered and Talbotiella bretelerii (known only from two other small, highly threatened sites in Yaoundé) as Endangered. Mbam Minkom is the only known Cameroon location for Polystachya carnosa and Polystachya kubalae and may represent the only population of Coffea fotsoana, a potentially important coffee wild relative. Given the high number of threatened Orchidaceae, one of the few groups for which the site has been well surveyed, it seems very likely that there are more threatened taxa from other plant families yet to be recorded.

Site description

The Mbam Minkom Hills are a series of steep prominences located around 15 km northwest of central Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon. Rising to 1,295 m, the highest point in Centre region they represent the highest and largest of the several granulitic (metamorphic) inselberg areas in and around the west of the city. Unlike most of the other prominences much of their vegetation is intact, at least in the submontane altitudinal zone (>900 m). The lower slopes at the perimeter of the area are more degraded by cultivation with farmland and farm fallow.

Botanical significance

Despite their proximity to Yaoundé, the various hills in and around the city have revealed many threatened and rare species of interest. Although relatively little surveyed, Mbam Minkom represents the largest and most intact of these areas and the best hope for conserving some of the species endemic to the Yaoundé area. Simo et al. (2009) have described the orchid flora in recent years but there have been relatively few other surveying efforts. Several of Zenker and Staudt's important historic collections from "Yaundé Station" do not have a known location and have not been recorded in other parts of the country (Cheek et al., 2010). They probably have their best chance of surviving or being rediscovered in the Mbam Minkom Hills.

Habitat and geology

Geologically Yaoundé, the Mbam Minkom Hills and most of the southern part of Central province sit within a large meta-sedimentary area of the South Cameroon Plain, south of the Sanaga fault and north of the north-thrusting ancient Congo craton (Ngnotue et al., 2012). These hills are all formed of granulites and migmatites also referred to as embrichite gneiss (Achoundong, 1985), relatively high grade metamorphic rocks formed from sedimentary and igneous protoliths and apparently dating from around 600 mya (Nzenti, 1988; Tchouatcha et al., 2018; Ngnotue et al., 2012).
Rainfall measurements are not available for the site itself but precipitation is relatively low in Yaoundé at 1,541 mm per annum (period 1971–2000; World Meteorological Organization, 2021). This is below the level normally thought necessary to sustain evergreen tropical forest (Cheek et al., 2011), although it is likely to vary through the site. The steep western faces intercept westerly monsoon winds, resulting in differences in the physiognomy and composition of the vegetation (Noumi, 2015; Simo et al 2009). The precipitation regime is of the Guinean type with a small (March-June) and greater (September-November) wet season interspersed with a drier period (July-August), and a second more severe dry period between December and February when mean monthly rainfall drops below the relatively flat mean monthly temperature curve (range: 22.8–25.47 °C) on a on a Walter-Leith type chart (Simo et al., 2009; Bissaya et al., 2014; Noumi, 2015). Relative to other montane areas, the Mbam Minkom range may exhibit a negative Massenerhebung (mountain mass elevation) effect due to its relative isolation from other large mountains, potentially resulting in plants having lower altitudinal tolerances and high altitude species occurring at lower altitudes than elsewhere (Noumi, 2015).
The vegetation consists of remaining areas of lowland forest much degraded by cultivation, relatively intact submontane forest at 800–1,300 m, and “inselberg” areas characterised by sparse vegetation tolerant of heat and water deficit such as Microdracoides squamosus (Droissart et al., 2006; Onana & Cheek, 2011). “Mbam Minkom” means “rocky domes” in the Ewondo language and the steep topology leaves substantial areas of exposed rock. Forest is semi-deciduous on the lower, eastern slopes but evergreen on the summit. There are many rivers and streams beneath the canopy, often forming steep gullies.

Conservation issues

The proximity of the Mbam Minkom Hills to the capital city presents various conservation challenges and opportunities. Yaoundé was the second largest city in Cameroon at the last census but has been estimated to be growing at over 5% per year and may now have the largest population in the country at over 4 million (United Nations, 2018). It is predicted to reach 5.7 million by 2030. Most of the other hills and areas of vegetation on the western side of the city have been seriously degraded or lost due to small scale agriculture, suburban spread, hotel development, extraction of timber and quarrying. These are all threats to Mbam Minkom as the city enlarges and develops (Nkwemoh et al., 2017, 2018).
Noumi (2015) reports that much forest has been destroyed by small scale agriculture around the edges and on the lower slopes of the Mbam Minkom area but that the interior is largely intact. The western side which is steeper and wetter is less degraded, even though it drops to lower altitudes of around 650 m (Simo et al., 2009). Awa II et al. (2009) report agriculture, logging and settlement within the forest as threats.
The growing size of Yaoundé and its status as a capital city also present an opportunity to benefit the increasing urban population and add prestige to the capital city by protecting the natural heritage of this site. Banco National Park in the city of Abidjan is a possible model. The potential to contribute to clean air, fresh water, leisure, tourism and education present powerful arguments for treating Mbam Minkom and other remaining local inselbergs as integral to the development of the city. Universities and schools utilise Mbam Minkom for fieldwork sites essential for forestry and biodiversity training. The beauty of the landscape is very striking to visitors and there is potential for increased tourism. However, Awa II (2009) report that a tourism drive led to deforestation of important trees and loss of nesting sites to harvest timber for huts at the summit. Unfortunately these huts were poorly sited and were dilapidated by 2009 (O. Lachenaud, 2021, pers. comm. 29 June). Outcomes such as this highlight the importance of integrating biodiversity education and management into well-managed eco-tourism development.
The area demarcated here is narrowly separated from other proposed IPAs (Mt Kala, Eloumden and Mt Minloua). There is potential to integrate these sites and create a much more effective conservation area.

Ecosystem services

The forested Mbam Minkom watershed supplies fresh water to the large nearby population (Awa II et al., 2007). The forest also helps prevent landslides that have claimed lives and caused much devastation in parts of Cameroon. Mbam Minkom is particularly susceptible to mass movement and potential landslides (Zogning et al., 2007; Bissaya, 2014).
Mbam Minkom forms the major part of a Key Bird Area and is considered a stronghold for Picathartes oreas, with rocky outcrops of the steep slopes and watercourses providing rare suitable habitat where dense forest cover remains (Awa II et al., 2009). Deforestation has severely impacted nesting in parts of the site. The presence of primate populations including Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) was also reported (Awa II et al., 2009) although it is not known if these still persist. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) have been recently confirmed to still occur at the site (R. Fotso, 2021, pers. comm., 9 June).
So close to Yaoundé, the site is important for traditional forest products, although care must be taken to avoid over-exploitation particularly of timber. It is also of importance for air quality, leisure activity and biodiversity education.

Site assessor(s)

Bruce Murphy, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Xander van der Burgt, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Professor Bonaventure Sonke, University of Yaounde I

Dr Vincent Droissart, Institute of Research for Development. Marseille

Dr. Roger Fotso, WCS Cameroon

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
Angraecum egertonii Rendle (syn. Ancistrorynchus egertonii) A(i) True True True False False
Bulbophyllum teretifolium Schltr. A(i) True True True False False
Cheirostylis divina (Guinea) Summerh. var. ochyrae Szlach. & Olszewski A(i) True True True False False
Coffea fotsoana Stoffelen & Sonké A(i) True True True False False
Crossandra obanensis Heine A(i) True True True False False
Diaphananthe bueae (Schltr.) Schltr. A(i) True True False False False
Hymenostegia viridiflora Mackinder & Wieringa A(i) True True True False False
Polystachya carnosa P.J.Cribb & Podz. A(iii) True True True False False
Polystachya kubalae Szlach. & Olszewski A(i) True True True False False
Stolzia grandiflora P.J.Cribb subsp. lejolyana Stévart, Droissart & M.Simo A(i) True True True False False
Talbotiella breteleri (Aubrév.) Mackinder & Wieringa A(i) True True True False False
Ardisia ototomoensis Taton A(i) True True True False False
Pterorhachis zenkeri Harms A(i) False False False False False
Boutiquea platypetala (Engl. & Diels) Le Thomas A(i) True True False False False
Aristolochia preussii Engl. A(i) True True True False False
Chassalia laikomensis Cheek A(i), A(iii) True False False False False
Mussaenda epiphytica Cheek A(i) True True True False False
Cola hypochrysea K.Schum. A(i), A(iii) True True True False False
Khaya ivorensis A.Chev. A(i) False False False False True
Garcinia kola Heckel A(i) False False False False True
Entandrophragma angolense (Welw.) C.DC. A(i) False False False False True
Sabicea laxa Wernham A(i), A(iii) True True True False False
Polystachya kornasiana Szlach. & Olszewski A(i) True True True False False
Psychotria villicarpa O.Lachenaud subsp. villicarpa A(i) True True True False False
Chassalia manningii O.Lachenaud ined. A(i) True True True False False
Psychotria senterrei O.Lachenaud A(i) True True True False False
Calycosiphonia macrochlamys (K.Schum.) Robbr. A(i) False False False False False
Kylicanthe cornuata Descourv. & Stévart & Droissart A(i) True True True False False
Oxyanthus doucetii Sonké & O.Lachenaud A(i) True True True False False
Ardisia koupensis Taton A(i) True True True False False
Hymenocoleus glaber Robbr. A(i) True False False False False
Psychotria camerunensis E.M.A.Petit A(i) False False True False False

Angraecum egertonii Rendle (syn. Ancistrorynchus egertonii)

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:

Bulbophyllum teretifolium Schltr.

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:

Cheirostylis divina (Guinea) Summerh. var. ochyrae Szlach. & Olszewski

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:

Coffea fotsoana Stoffelen & Sonké

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:

Crossandra obanensis Heine

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:

Diaphananthe bueae (Schltr.) Schltr.

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

Hymenostegia viridiflora Mackinder & 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:
False
Abundance at site:

Polystachya carnosa P.J.Cribb & Podz.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(iii)
≥ 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:

Polystachya kubalae Szlach. & Olszewski

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:

Stolzia grandiflora P.J.Cribb subsp. lejolyana Stévart, Droissart & M.Simo

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:

Talbotiella breteleri (Aubrév.) Mackinder & 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:
False
Abundance at site:

Ardisia ototomoensis Taton

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:

Pterorhachis zenkeri Harms

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

Boutiquea platypetala (Engl. & Diels) Le Thomas

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

Aristolochia preussii Engl.

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:

Chassalia laikomensis Cheek

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

Mussaenda epiphytica Cheek

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:

Cola hypochrysea K.Schum.

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i), A(iii)
≥ 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:

Khaya ivorensis A.Chev.

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

Garcinia kola Heckel

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

Entandrophragma angolense (Welw.) C.DC.

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

Sabicea laxa Wernham

Qualifying sub-criterion:
A(i), A(iii)
≥ 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:

Polystachya kornasiana Szlach. & Olszewski

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:

Psychotria villicarpa O.Lachenaud subsp. villicarpa

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:

Chassalia manningii O.Lachenaud ined.

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:

Psychotria senterrei O.Lachenaud

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:

Calycosiphonia macrochlamys (K.Schum.) Robbr.

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

Kylicanthe cornuata Descourv. & Stévart & Droissart

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:

Oxyanthus doucetii Sonké & O.Lachenaud

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:

Ardisia koupensis Taton

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:

Hymenocoleus glaber Robbr.

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

Psychotria camerunensis E.M.A.Petit

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:

Threats

Threat Severity Timing
Geological events - Avalanches/landslides Medium Past, likely to return
Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas Medium Ongoing - increasing
Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying Medium Future - inferred threat
Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture High Ongoing - trend unknown
Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale (species being assessed is not the target) [harvest] High Ongoing - trend unknown
Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity High Ongoing - trend unknown

Geological events - Avalanches/landslides

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Past, likely to return

Residential & commercial development - Housing & urban areas

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - increasing

Energy production & mining - Mining & quarrying

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Future - inferred threat

Agriculture & aquaculture - Annual & perennial non-timber crops - Shifting agriculture

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting - Unintentional effects: subsistence/small scale (species being assessed is not the target) [harvest]

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Natural system modifications - Fire & fire suppression - Increase in fire frequency/intensity

Severity:
High
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Conservation designation

Designation name Protected area Relationship with IPA Areal overlap
Mbam Minkom-Mt Kala IBA Important Bird Area protected/conservation area encompasses IPA No value

Mbam Minkom-Mt Kala IBA

Protected area:
Important Bird Area
Relationship with IPA:
protected/conservation area encompasses IPA
Areal overlap:
No value

Management type

Management type Description Year started Year finished
No management plan in place No value No value

No management plan in place

Year started:
No value
Year finished:
No value

Bibliography

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Cheek, M., Harvey, Y. & Onana, J.M., 2011

The Plants of Mefou Proposed National Park, Yaoundé, Cameroon

BirdLife International, 2020

Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mbam Minkom - Kala.

Available online

Zogning, A., Ngouanet, C. & Tiafack, O., 2007

The catastrophic geomorphological processes in humid tropical Africa: A case study of the recent landslide disasters in Cameroon

Sedimentary Geology, Vol 199, page(s) 13 – 27 Available online

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Floristic structure and diversity of a tropical sub-montane evergreen forest, in the Mbam minkom massif (Western Yaoundé).

Journal of Biology and Life Science, Vol 6(1), page(s) 149-193

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The Orchid Flora of the Mbam Minkom Hills (Yaoundé, Cameroon)

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Pétrogenèse des migmatites de Yaoundé (Cameroun). Elément pour un modèle géodynamique de la chaîne pan africaine Nord Equatoriale

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Origin and evolution of the late Precambrian high-grade Yaounde gneisses (Cameroon).

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Preserved Sedimentary Features in the Pan-African High-Grade Metamorphic Rocks from the Yaoundé Series (Cameroon)

Journal of Geosciences and Geomatics, Vol 6(3), page(s) 94-102

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Geochemistry and geochronology of Peraluminous High-K Granitic Leucosomes of Yaoundé Series ) Cameroon. Evidence for a Unique Pan-African Magmatism and Melting Event in North Equatorial Fold Belt.

International Journal of Geosciences, Vol 3, page(s) 525-548

Awa II, T., Dzikouk, G. & Norris, K., 2009

Breeding distribution and population decline of globally threatened Grey-necked Picathartes Picathartes oreas in Mbam Minkom Mountain Forest, southern Cameroon

Bird Conservation International, Vol 19, page(s) 254–264

Droissart, V., Sonké, B. & Stévart, T., 2006

Les Orchidaceae endémiques d'Afrique centrale atlantique présentes au Cameroun

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Recommended citation

Bruce Murphy, Xander van der Burgt, Professor Bonaventure Sonke, Dr Vincent Droissart, Dr. Roger Fotso (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Mbam Minkom Hills (Cameroon). https://tipas.kew.org/site/mbam-minkom-hills-2/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)