Yangambi: Planting the roots of vegetation classification in Africa

Beginning in the late 19th century, effective classification of Africa’s bounteous vegetation became a major preoccupation for European geographers and botanists. Seeking to gain a better understanding of the vast territories that their countries had colonized, they hoped to contribute to more efficient land use, resource and environmental management.

But they soon realized they faced an enormous task. Africa is a megadiverse continent. From the East Sudanian savanna to the Central Zambezian miombo woodlands, Europeans found themselves describing and mapping a diversity of vegetation types on a scale unlike any other in the world.

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