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Forest-savanna dynamics in the coastal lowland of southern Mozambique since 400 AD
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology.
2008 (English)In: The Holocene, ISSN 0959-6836, E-ISSN 1477-0911, Vol. 18, 1247-1257 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the coastal lowlands of Mozambique, an expansion of savannas at the cost of forests has been attributed to anthropogenic influence. There are few investigations that have studied vegetation dynamics over the long term. Pollen analysis from two sedimentary cores in the Chibuene area, 7 km south of Vilanculos presented in this paper show that the coastal area 1600 years ago consisted of a mosaic of forests, Miombo woodlands and grasslands. The data also show that the area supported extensive forests in the past until AD 1400–1600 when the forests declined dramatically. Changing settlement patterns, as suggested from archaeological excavations, cannot be correlated with the forest decline and the charcoal abundance, in the sedimentary cores does not suggest an intensification of farming. Instead the decline of forests appears to be temporally correlated with a prolonged period of repeated dry spells associated with the ‘Little Ice Age’, which caused a shift in vegetation whereby typical forest species as Trema, Celtis and Moraceae were outcompeted on account of the droughts. This study challenges rooted assumptions about the cause of decline of forests in the coastal region. It also suggests that the forest fragments present on the Mozambique coast today are naturally subject to threat from climatic stress and as such are highly sensitive areas to future climate change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 18, 1247-1257 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-119229OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-119229DiVA: diva2:299881
Available from: 2010-02-24 Created: 2010-02-24 Last updated: 2011-02-10Bibliographically approved

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