Botanic Garden Meise

Jérôme Degreef
The Botanic Garden Meise has a long tradition of research with African mushrooms both in West-Africa (Benin, Togo) and Central-Africa (Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo).

Jérôme Degreef, Director of the Department of Cryptogamy - APM, will lead the scientific part of the expedition that will be supported by the local experts Ms Assoumpta Mukandera and Gudula Nyirandayambaje.  Both have extensive experience and knowledge of mycology.  They will be accompanied by Franck Hidvegi, press officer, Botanic Garden Meise. He will be responsible for making a report of our mission.

Assoumpta Mukandera (left)
and Gudula Nyirandayambaje (right)
The mycological research carried out by the APM in tropical Africa has resulted in the description of some 200 species of edible mushrooms and has already demonstrated their importance as a source of food for the local population (De Kesel et al., 2003; Eyi et al., 2011; Rammeloo and Walleyn, 1993).  In the neighbouring country Burundi, 43 edible species were found, mostly in the forested areas in the vicinity of Lake Tanganyika and along the Tanzanian border (Nzigidahera, 2007).  This inventory has recently been added to by another 8 species which were harvested in the mountain forests of the National Park of Kibira, which runs along the border with Rwanda (Degreef, unpublished).  Taking into account these previous findings, the Botanic Garden expects to report similar results in Rwanda.

During a first mission to Rwanda a provisional list of some 10 species of edible mushrooms were found in secondary forests and savannah, half of which were saprotrophic (Mukandera, 2011).  A more detailed investigation in Burundi brought to light many more species of mushrooms.  Several species which were identified in Rwanda were also found in Burundi, whilst other species were unique to Rwanda. Based on these findings, we can expect that a number of new species will be found in Rwanda or even species that are new to science.  The presence of a number of unidentified Oyster mushrooms in Burundi and Rwanda must be further investigated, because these saprotrophic mushrooms are possible candidates for cultivation in Rwanda.

The field work will consist of the systematic listing of all species of mushrooms which may be edible (these belong to our target group – see edible mushrooms) or to those which have already been demonstrated as edible because they are eaten by the local population.  This is the first time that such a basic research is carried out into the mycological potential of Rwanda.

The APM is also a center of expertise when it comes to providing mycological training.   This it does by organising a whole range of scientific courses for scientists, technicians and rangers in parks across West- and Central Africa (Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi).

But we will not forget the park rangers in Rwanda.  Our mycologists will train the rangers as we collect mushrooms and pass on the knowledge on how to identify and describe mushrooms in their own local working environment.  In this way, local knowledge will be enhanced with positive results for the continuing efforts to preserve the local mycological treasures of Rwanda -- long after our mycologists have returned to their laboratories in Meise.  

No comments:

Post a Comment