In the last few years one of the main focuses of my team's research has been to collect data on plant traits for many of our plots across the tropics. Up until now this is focused on South America: the huge CHAMBASA campaign in the southern Peruvian Andes-Amazon in 2013, the BACABA campaign along a forest savanna transition in the southern Amazonian rainforest of Brazil in early 2014, and (just finished) a second Andes-Amazon transect in central and northern Peru (more on that in a later post). This week heralded the start of a first traits campaign in Africa, along the forest to savanna gradient in Ghana, West Africa.
The project has been named Kwaeemma, which means "children of the forest" in the local language Twi. We haven't worked out an acronym for it, and maybe never well. The work is in collaboration with the Forest Research Institute of Ghana, with our key partner being Dr Stephen Adu-Bredu. It involves a team of around 25 Ghanaian students and national service volunteers. A pivotal role in the logistics and organization is played by Theresa Peprah, who is using the data for her PhD in Ghana funded by this programme. From Oxford the team is led by Imma Oliveras (now actually at Wageningen) and also DPhil student Agne Gvozdevaite will have a major role. The whole campaign is expected to last six months. Last week was a training session in the semi-deciduous forest site at Bobiri (conveniently close to FORIG), and next week the whole teams heads to the more challenging forest-savanna transition site at Kogyae.
The project is supported by a grant from the Royal Society-Leverhulme African Awards scheme, with additional support from my European Research Council Advanced Investigator Award GEM-TRAIT.
Yadvinder Malhi is an ecosytem ecologist and Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University