IITA Forest Center plants the Ibadan Malimbe Grove
Birds play important ecological roles by acting as agents of pollination, seed dispersal, and pest control. They also help to indicate the health of the environment. Despite this, habitat destruction due to illegal logging and unsustainable farming continues to be a major threat to bird conservation.
The IITA Forest Center, Ibadan, which is funded by the A.G. Leventis Foundation, aims to plant bird-friendly trees to stem the effects of habitat destruction. As a way of flagging off this project, a special tree planting event was organized at the 6-ha Tree Heritage Park on 7 May. Phil Hall of the A.G. Leventis Foundation, Hilde Koper-Limbourg, IITA Deputy Director General for Corporate Services, and Forest Center staff planted 13 seedlings of native tree species, including Albizia zygia, Antiaris toxicaria, Brachystegia eurycoma, Ceiba pentandra, Cola gigantea, Cynometra megalophylla, Daniellia ogea, Elaeis guineensis. Lonchocarpus sericeus, Markhamia tomentosa, Parkia biglobosa, Pouteria alnifolia, and Triplochiton scleroxylon.
Adewale Awoyemi, Manager of the Forest Center, explained that the 13 planted seedlings were different species of native trees on which the Ibadan Malimbe (Malimbus ibadanensis) was recorded by P. Hall, A.P. Leventis, S. Manu, and A. Awoyemi. He added that the Ibadan Malimbe is a small-medium sized forest weaver, which is restricted to a small area in southwestern Nigeria. According to him, the endemic bird is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species due to declining populations. The IITA Forest Reserve is one of the few sites where the species can be found in the area.
In an earlier interview, Hall spoke extensively about the importance of birds to mankind. He said “The IITA-Ibadan campus is one of the best protected areas in Nigeria and is a safe haven for birds as over 270 bird species have been recorded, including 67 species that are restricted to the Guinea-Congo Forest Biome, qualifying the 360-ha IITA Forest Reserve as an Important Bird Area.” Hall said the campus had attracted the attention of bird watchers and ornithologists, especially the A.G. Leventis Foundation for over 40 years. He expressed satisfaction about the ongoing bird and forest conservation project at IITA and said that the A.G. Leventis Foundation will keep supporting conservation initiatives of the IITA Forest Center.