A super team of scientists recently discovered an undisturbed forest inside an ancient volcano that could provide unique insights into the impact of climate change on rainforests. The rainforest, perched atop Monte Lico in Northern Mozambique and surrounded by near-vertical 700m rock faces, is believed to be one of the most isolated and pristine forests on Earth.
Due to the mountain's intimidating geography, for hundreds of years people had no idea it hid a rainforest within. In 2012 conservation biologist Julian Bayliss discovered the forest after scouring Google Earth satellite images for untouched forests.
It took Bayliss over 5 years to secure funding for an expedition and assemble a team of 28 biologists, botanists, lepidopterists, researchers, climbing experts and logistical crew but the work paid off when the team scaled the mountain's sheer cliffs for what is believed to be the first time in history. This involved ascending a 125-metre cliff face using ropes and harnesses, with the professional climbers teaching scientists climbing techniques on the fly.
From the first expedition alone, the scientists have discovered a new species of butterfly and unclassified species of forest mice. Given the isolated nature of the ecosystem, more undiscovered species are expected to be uncovered from the area.
Even more significantly, the undisturbed biosphere is expected to provide unique insights into the impact of human activities and climate change on rainforests and could set a benchmark for future research into these areas.
Before Monte Lico, Professor Bayliss also discovered Monte Mabu using Google Earth in 2005.
- Show your support for scientific progress by visiting Earthwatch and supporting other expeditions.
- Visit the National Tree Day website to find a site near you or register your own and support our native environment by joining Australia's largest tree planting and nature-care event.
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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.