Researchers have discovered a new species of tree in the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, part of the Eastern Arc Mountains, and a globally important region for species in need of conservation.
The tree, which grows up to 20m tall and has white flowers, has been categorized as endangered due to its restricted population range at only 8km-sq. It is as yet unknown what kind of wildlife might rely on the tree, but it is most likely pollinated by a species of beetle.
Researcher Dr. Andy Marshall, from the University of York’s Department of Environment and Geography, discovered the tree when carrying out a survey of the forest to understand the environmental factors that influence the amount of carbon that forests can store.
Botanist George Gosline, from Kew Gardens, recognized that this is a new species related to a group previously thought to be restricted to western Africa. This, in turn, led to the recognition of three new species in the group.
Dr. Marshall said: “The tree is in a particularly beautiful part of the world — up high in the clouded mountains and surrounded by tea estates. Now that we know it exists, we have to look at ways to protect it.
“With such a small population, it is important that it does not become isolated from other forests in the region, due to increasing agriculture. Small forests need to be connected to others to ensure seed dispersal and species adaptation to climate change.”
Source: University of York
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