A sediment-based history of medium altitude forest in central Africa: a record from Kabata Swamp, Ndale volcanic field, Uganda


D. Taylor (e-mail geodmt@nus.edu.sg).


1 Sedimentary data from a 6-m long core from Kabata Swamp, an in-filled crater in the Ndale volcanic field of western Uganda, provided evidence for a number of cycles of disturbance and recovery of medium altitude forest.

2 The date of formation of the crater was earlier than an Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) radiocarbon date of 11 460 ± 90 bp (11 699–11 209bc cal.) and thus appears to predate volcanism farther north in the Fort Portal area.

3 A form of medium altitude forest was already present in western Uganda by the later stages of the last ice age. A more diverse form of medium altitude forest was present from 11 460 ± 90 bp.

4 Some phases of disturbance of this forest during the Holocene could be correlated with established political–economic changes in the study area. One dated c. 2500 bp (768–542 bc cal.) could be associated with the entry of Bantu-speaking people. A second at 400 ± 60 bp (ad 1419–1648 cal.) coincides with significant shifts in the focus of settlement from drier grassland to wetter, more forested parts.

5 Levels of biodiversity in forests in western Uganda remain relatively high, even after substantial modifications of vegetation cover over an extended period of time. Many central African forest taxa may therefore be able to cope with environmental change, including prolonged human impact.