Succession and Regeneration Patterns of East African Mountain Forests: A Review

Succession and Regeneration Patterns of East African Mountain Forests: A Review


For decades East Africa has experienced heavy tree felling, which has resulted in a change in species composition. This study conducted the phytosociological in Kenya and Ethiopia between 1992 and 1996 in order to understand the succession and regeneration processes in East African Mountain forests. 

Research Goals & Methods

In previous phytosociological analysis of East African forests from 1992-1993, relevés were established. All relevés were sampled at least twice and in different seasons. During the extensive phytosociological fieldwork special attention was given to regeneration patterns and succession processes in the forests, these observations leading to the regeneration cycles pre

Conclusions & Takeaways

A review of the regeneration cycle and succession patterns in Ocotetea usambarensis showed a great variety of the species, mostly very old Ocotea trees approximately 300-600 years of age with diameter 1.2-3.5m. Old populations of O. usambarensis died and in the mosaic of gaps Macaranga kilimandscharica started growing as secondary species. M. kilimandscharica played an important role as shade tree for Ocotetea saplings that cannot tolerate full sun. After the breakdown of the short-lived Macaranga trees, the Octotetea trees close the gap and shade out and prevent germination or establishment of the Macaranga trees.  Large scale heavy logging that results in numerous large gaps at once prevents Ocotea regeneration. These large gaps are succeeded by Macaranga and at higher altitudes by Neoboutonia macrocalyx. These manmade gaps does not help to regenerate Ocotea. Hence the possibilities for regeneration to primary forest are unknown, and would require very long time spans, and a complete stop to logging around the gaps to allow colonization.



Bussmann RW. Succession and Regeneration Patterns of East African Mountain Forests. A Review. Systematics and Geography of Plants. 2001;71:959. doi:10.2307/3668731.


  • Universitat Bayreuth, Lehrstuh fur Pflanzenphysiologie Bayreuth, Germany