Mount Massangulo

Monte Massangulo

MOZTIPA039
Mount Massangulo

Country: Mozambique

Administrative region: Niassa (Province)

Central co-ordinates: 13.87657 S, 35.43433 E

Area: 11km²

Qualifying IPA Criteria

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

IPA assessment rationale

Mount Massangulo qualifies as an IPA under sub-criterion A(i), with one Endangered species, Streptocarpus erubescens, and one Vulnerable species, Oncella curviramea. As only two Mozambican endemic taxa (Pavetta gardeniifolia var. appendiculata and Ceropegia cyperifolia) and one near endemic (S. erubescens) are known from the site, Mount Massangulo does not meet the threshold for 3% of species of conservation importance under sub-criterion B(ii). It is recommended that further research be conducted into the botanical diversity of this site and to monitor the populations of the known priority species.

Site description

The Mount Massangulo IPA is a mountain in N’gauma District of Niassa Province, close to the Malawi border. The town of Massangulo, centred on one of the oldest Catholic missions in the region, lies at the foot of the mountain, while to the west is the main road from Lichinga running south to Mandimba.
The mountain itself reaches a peak of 1,640 m, with the IPA covering an area of 11 km2. Much of the IPA is miombo woodland, however, there is some montane forest in the gullies of the mountain which hosts the only population in Mozambique of the globally Endangered species, Streptocarpus erubescens.

Botanical significance

This IPA is of botanical significance as the only site in Mozambique to host Streptocarpus erubescens, a globally Endangered, near-endemic species known also from a small number of locations across the border in Malawi. Most of the localities in Malawi are threatened by clearance of the montane forest on which this species depends; therefore, the intact patches of montane forest on Mount Massangulo are of great importance for the continued survival of this species (Darbyshire & Rokni 2020). A survey of the S. erubescens population within this IPA is recommended, to establish its size and health, as the last botanical record of the species at this site was taken in 1967 (Torre #10803).
An additional threatened species, Oncella curviramea (VU), is known to occur at this site. Massangulo represents one of only two localities in Mozambique for this parasitic species (Polhill & Wiens 1998).
Two Mozambican endemics are also known to occur at this IPA, Pavetta gardeniifolia var. appendiculata, known from only Massangulo in Niassa province and a small number of other localities in Zambezia province, and Ceropegia cyperifolia (LC) which has a range of just 3,826 km2.
Numerous important timber species have been recorded from the miombo woodlands in this area including Albizia gummerifera, Brachystegia spiciformis, B. utilis and Newtonia buchananii (GBIF.org 2021), which are likely harvested and used by local people.

Habitat and geology

Massangulo reaches a peak of 1,640 m, with two smaller peaks, at 1,560 m and 1,610 m, to the south-east and south-west. The geology of the area is mostly sandy-clay soils with the underlain by granitoid rock (Torre #10773). Much of the drainage from the mountain appears to flow southwards towards the Chitape river.
Although the site has not been subjected to a formal inventory, a number of collections have been made on and around Mount Massangulo, particularly by Portuguese botanist António Gomes e Sousa (Exell 1936). Much of the lower and mid-altitude slopes of Mount Massangulo are covered in miombo woodland, however, some of the miombo on the flatter areas of the western slope of the mountain has been converted into machambas. Miombo is composed of Brachystegia, Uapaca and Julbernardia spp. on the southern slopes (Torre #10773). Brachystegia boehmii is the dominant species in the more open canopy areas (Exell 1936). In woodland clearings, trees of Piliostigma thonningii are common with the herb Dolichos kilimandscharicus frequent in the understory (Exell 1936). At mid-altitudes the grass species Eragrostis arenicola is abundant in miombo clearings, occurring on the dry soils in these areas (Gomes e Sousa #1414).
Forested areas occur within gullies at mid to high altitudes, particularly on the south-facing slopes. The species composition of these areas has not yet been documented; however, Newtonia buchananii has been recorded within these forests (Torre #10826), and likely dominates as is the case for several montane forests on thin soils in Mozambique (Burrows et al. 2018). The montane forests on Mount Massangulo are important for the globally Endangered species Streptocarpus erubescens, which grows in the rocky understory (Darbyshire & Rokni 2020), while Oncella curviramea (VU) is known to parasitise at least one species of Combretum within these forests (Torre #11047).

Conservation issues

Mount Muruwere does not fall within a protected area, Key Biodiversity Area or Important Bird Area. However, many of the upper slopes are protected by the Environmental Act (Lei No. 20/97 of 1997) which prohibits cultivation of crops on the steeper slopes of Mozambique’s mountains (Timberlake et al. 2007), although these areas of Mount Massangulo are largely undisturbed in any case, possibly due to their inaccessibility.
Since 2015 there has been significant loss of miombo on the lower western slopes of the mountain, including thinning of woodland (presumably through felling for timber or fuelwood) and clearing of land for agriculture (World Resources Institute 2020; Google Inc. 2020). While clearings on the plains around Mount Massangulo have been present for some time, with botanical records from the 1930s documenting these (Gomes e Sousa #1339), until recently the mountain itself appeared largely undisturbed (Google Inc. 2020).
Close to the IPA boundary are a number of pine and eucalyptus forestry plantations, owned by Green Resources S. A. (a Norwegian forestry company), totalling 3322 ha in Ngaúma district. Following a number of land disputes with local people, some of whom previously farmed the land converted to forestry (Røhnebæk Bjergene 2015), the company agreed in 2020 to cede their land rights to local communities in several districts across Niassa province, including in Ngaúma where this IPA is situated (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique 2020). If the land can be farmed by local people, this may relieve pressure in the Massangulo area which may, in turn, slow further agricultural expansion within the IPA.
The faunal taxa of Mount Massangulo has not yet been catalogued, however, with a significant area of intact woodlands and forest, it is likely there will be some taxa of interest within this IPA.

Ecosystem services

Drainage from the mountain into the Chitape River to the south appears to be important for local land use, with a number of settlements, machambas and a forestry plantation all being situated by the streams that originate on the mountain.
The thinning of miombo woodland in the west of the IPA suggests that this site is a source of wood, likely for timber or fuel.

Site assessor(s)

Sophie Richards, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

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
Streptocarpus erubescens Hilliard & B.L.Burtt A(i) True True True False False Unknown
Oncella curviramea (Engl.) Danser A(i) True True True False False Unknown

Streptocarpus erubescens Hilliard & B.L.Burtt

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

Oncella curviramea (Engl.) Danser

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

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
Medium Altitude Moist Forest 900-1400 m C(iii) False False False 1

Medium Altitude Moist Forest 900-1400 m

Qualifying sub-criterion:
C(iii)
≥ 5% of national resource:
False
≥ 10% of national resource:
False
Areal coverage at site:
1

General site habitats

General site habitat Percent coverage Importance
Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane Forest 10 Minor
Savanna - Moist Savanna 50 Major
Rocky Areas - Rocky Areas [e.g. inland cliffs, mountain peaks] 20 Minor
Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Shrubland 10 Minor

Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane Forest

Percent coverage:
10
Importance:
Minor

Savanna - Moist Savanna

Percent coverage:
50
Importance:
Major

Rocky Areas - Rocky Areas [e.g. inland cliffs, mountain peaks]

Percent coverage:
20
Importance:
Minor

Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Shrubland

Percent coverage:
10
Importance:
Minor

Land use types

Land use type Percent coverage Importance
Agriculture (arable) No value Minor
Harvesting of wild resources No value Minor

Agriculture (arable)

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Harvesting of wild resources

Percent coverage:
No value
Importance:
Minor

Threats

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

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

Severity:
Low
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

Biological resource use - Logging & wood harvesting

Severity:
Medium
Timing:
Ongoing - trend unknown

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

Burrows, J., Burrows, S., Lötter, M. & Schmidt, E., 2018

Trees and Shrubs Mozambique

Timberlake, J., Bayliss, J., Alves, T., Baena, S., Harris, T. & da Sousa, C., 2007

Biodiversity and Conservation of Mount Chiperone, Mozambique

Darwin Initiative Award 15/036: Monitoring and Managing Biodiversity Loss in South-east Africa's Montane Ecosystems, page(s) 1-33 Available online

World Resources Institute, 2020

Global Forest Watch

Available online

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, 2020

Mozambique: Forestry Company to Abandon Rights to 54,000 Hectares

Darbyshire, I. & Rokni, S., 2020

Streptocarpus erubescens. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T149256393A153685869

Available online

Exell, M., 1936

Leguminosae from Mozambique, collected by Gomes e Sousa

Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, Vol 12, page(s) 6-92 Available online

Røhnebæk Bjergene, L., 2015

Forestry Investments in Niassa Province, Mozambique – Benefits and Challenges

Available online

GBIF.org, 2021

GBIF Occurrence Download

Available online

Polhill, R.M, & Wiens, D., 1998

Mistletoes of Africa

Recommended citation

Sophie Richards, Iain Darbyshire (2024) Tropical Important Plant Areas Explorer: Mount Massangulo (Mozambique). https://tipas.kew.org/site/mount-massangulo/ (Accessed on 21/05/2024)