Wetenschap - 1 januari 1970

Frankincense tree and baobab need protecting too

Frankincense tree and baobab need protecting too

Frans Bongers stands up for threatened tropical dry forests

A few years ago professor of tropical forest ecology Dr Frans Bongers could
be found regularly in the tropical rainforest of French Guyana, often on a
canopy raft, having been dropped there by a colourful zeppelin. In the
meantime he has extended his area of study to include the forests of
Africa, and now wants to draw attention to the plight of threatened species
including the frankincense tree and the baobab.

Bongers is not often in his home country, the Netherlands, but on 16
January he had to be present to give his inaugural speech on the occasion
of his appointment as Personal Professor in the Forest Ecology and Forest
Management Group at Wageningen University. His speech makes clear his
passion for tropical forests: from the agouti, a rodent that spreads tree
seeds in French Guyana, to the frankincense tree in Eritrea, the list is
long. He is concerned about the continuing deforestation in the tropics,
the loss of animal and plant species, and the indigenous forest dwellers
who are losing their means of livelihood.

“It’s possible to fly over the Amazon or Congo basin for hours without
seeing anything but forest,