Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 April 2009
The forests of the Kilum-Ijim area, around Mount Oku in West Cameroon, are the largest remaining patch of montane forest in West Africa, and the highest in altitude. This important habitat harbours endemic species of both animals and plants but is surrounded by a high density of human settlements: c. 300,000 people live within a day's walk of the forest, which covers only 200 sq km. BirdLife International and the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, Government of Cameroon, are currently operating the Kilum-Ijim Forest Project, with the overall goal of conserving representative areas of the Cameroon montane forest biome in the long-term. The purpose of the project is toensure that the biodiversity, extent and ecological processes of the Kilum-Ijim Forest are maintained and that the forest is used sustainably by the local communities. The existence of a small Sphagnum community and associated wetland plant species was discovered in 1997 on the summit of Mount Oku, at 2900 m. This site is of extremely high conservation importance because several plant species endemic to the Kilum-Ijim area have been recorded there. In addition, it is the highest Sphagnum bog and the source of the highest stream in West Africa.