“Until a few years ago this giant forest in the mountainous north of Mozambique was known only to local villagers; it did not feature on maps nor, it is believed, in scientific collections or literature. But after "finding" the forest on a Google Earth internet map, a British-led team of scientists has returned from what is thought to be the first full-scale expedition into the canopy. Below the trees, which rise 45m above the ground, they discovered land filled with astonishingly rich biodiversity.”
The expedition - which is still recruiting for participants - will be led by Tom Bodkin, an experienced adventure guide, jungle specialist and former Officer with the Parachute Regiment who has led expeditions in countries as diverse as South Sudan and Afghanistan. The journey will be exploration in its purest form, no one knows what lies ahead on the route they plan to take.
Beyond the boundaries of the forest the land has been decimated by a civil war that lasted in Mozambique for 17 years up until 1992 but if you speak to locals they will tell you it lasted for several years longer. However inside the forest the scientists from Kew found the landscape was almost untouched. The forest's value as a refuge for villagers during the fighting and poor access had all combined to protect it and the unique ecosystem it contains.
With Mozambique's economy booming and with pressure to exploit its own raw materials growing, pressure to cut the forest for wood or burn it to make space for crops will threaten its fragile ecology. The expedition has two aims; as well as doing something truly unique in exploring this last frontier, the expedition hopes to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the future of these fragile ecosystems and to sow the seeds for the start of a nature-based tourist initiative within the Mount Mabu area. Other areas of Africa have seen success in empowering the local population to make a living from their natural environment through tourism, thus ensuring that they become stakeholders in the protection of these fragile environments.
“This will be an adventure of a lifetime” says Tom “We hope to traverse the Mount Mabu area of forest from south east to north west, in order to discover what is in the unexplored northern and western reaches of the Mt Mabu forest area, gain a better understanding of this completely unknown area of forest and pave the way for future exploration.”
When the scientists from Kew visited Mabu in 2008 they discovered a number of new species after having only explored a small area of the forest. There is therefore a chance that any team member who joins this expedition will get a chance to see one or two species completely new to science.
The team will be literally living off the land and moving their way through parts of a forest that perhaps no man has trodden. The expedition will camp rough in the forest at the end of a long day of exploration. What is unique is that although several participants are industry professionals-
Editors note: Secret Compass is a pioneering expeditionary company. Set up by ex-Parachute Regiment officers, it conducts exploratory expeditions for small teams to remote regions. For more information visit www.secretcompass.com. This team is limited to ten places and it is on a first come first served basis- pending application and screening of applicants. The cost of the trip is 1999 GBP. Click here for more information.