Original Research

Etat actuel des recherches sur la flore et la végétation du Rwanda et du Burundi

M. Reeksman, G. Troupin
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1240 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1240 | © 1983 M. Reeksman, G. Troupin | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

About the author(s)

M. Reeksman, Université de Liége, Département de Botanique, Service de Botanique systématique et de phytogéographie, Belgium
G. Troupin, Musée Royal d’Afrique Centrale á Tervuren et Institut National de Recherche Scientifique du Rwanda,, Rwanda

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At the end of the last century, many explorers, mainly Germans, travelled in Burundi searching for the famous sources of the Nile and the legendary ‘Mountains of the Moon. ’ Apart from the very often accurate descriptions of the vegetation and flora they encountered, one is indebted to them for the rich harvest of specimens collected, many of which were destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in 1944-1945.

When, in 1919, Burundi was placed under Belgian mandate, Belgian botanists took over the work and collected numerous specimens in the country. Their expeditions were organized from Zaire and were often of short duration, with the result that in 1965 there was still no systematic exploration of the country and in 1964 AETFAT classified Burundi as one of the lesser known areas in Africa.

Systematic exploration of the country began in 1965 with J. Lewalle. Apart from the publication of an excellent work on the stratification of the vegetation, he collected more than 6 500 numbers of herbarium specimens, several of which represented new species. He worked in Burundi until 1972.

From 1970 to 1980, Reekmans collected more than 9 500 specimens for the herbarium, mainly in the areas that were not intensively explored previously. He has published several works in connection with the phenology o f species and vegetation association of western Burundi.

Many botanists invited by Lewalle and Reekmans, have had the opportunity to explore the country and to collect specimens of special groups.

At present, it can be said that, except for a very small area of the country (otherwise well known in Rwanda where several studies have been made) the flora of Burundi is now well known. Phytogeographical limits are well established and the publication of a vegetation map is due in the near future. A catalogue of the country’s flora is also to be published shortly.

Apart from these ‘scientific’ results, botanical studies in Burundi have also had the result of awakening the authorities to the ‘value’ of their natural heritage — to such an extent that in March 1980 a National Institute of Nature Conserx’ation was created. Its first aim will be to ensure the establishment of natural parks and several natural reserves in which some very interesting species will be preserved.



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