In addition to the well-known forest invasive species, various mammal species cause significant damage to planted and natural forests, posing threats to forest sustainability, and wildlife management and conservation. Heavy browsing and bark-stripping by different mammals is known to cause several adverse effects on forest ecosystems, including impediments to natural regeneration, inhibition of shrub layer development, disturbance to structural diversity of vegetations, and significant economic losses. Cognizant of the problem, the Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa (FISNA) hosted its first webinar for the year titled “Forest Health & Wildlife: behaviour and effect of forest-damaging mammals”, on 6 March 2024. FISNA is one of the regional forest invasive species networks of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the Unites Nations, and aims to coordinate, collate and disseminate knowledge on forest health and invasive species in Sub-Saharan Africa.

During this event, experts from Africa and Latin America provided participants with insights on the behaviour and effects of forest-damaging mammals, sparking conversations on the importance of sustainable wildlife management in keeping forests healthy. Dr Ilaria Germishuizen from the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) in South Africa, explored the challenges and impact of baboon damage in pine plantations in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. Similarly, Prof. Sedjro Gilles Armel Nago from the University of Parakou in Benin, discussed the patterns of mammals-induced damage in Benin’s protected areas.

Complementing this experience, Dr Mario S. Di Bitetti from the Instituto de Biología Subtropical, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET) in Argentina elaborated on why monkeys bark-strip trees in forest plantations. Finally, a PhD student, Valentín Zárate, also from CONICET, provided attendants with more in-depth information about Capuchin bark-stripping behaviour in pine plantations in Argentina and potential management strategies.

The webinar was successful in bringing together over seventy people, including experts, students, and stakeholders from different regions, promoting knowledge exchange on important experiences with forest-damaging mammals and their effect on the health of forests and trees in protected areas around the world. The knowledge gained from the webinar is vital for sustainable and eco-friendly management of wildlife damage in planted and natural forests, and protected areas. The webinar was organized by FABI’s Prof. Brett Hurley and Dr Mesfin Gossa and FAO’s Dr Shiroma Sathyapala and Natalia Cano.       

If you are interested in watching the recording, please follow this link and use the passcode: FHW2024+