Goda Massif / Forêt du Day

The Forêt Du Day ecosystem is a dry tropical Afromontane mixed woodland in the Goda Massif mountain ranges in the North of Djibouti with an altitudinal range between c. 1200 m to c. 1750 m and is an Important Bird Area (BirdLife International, 2000). It consists also one of the few forested areas still remaining in the country where, historically, the dominant forest tree was African pencil cedar Juniperus procera, which formed a closed canopy forest until a dramatic decline in the last 20-30 years which left a large proportion of the junipers dead or dying, and the canopy open (Bealey et al., 2006).

At higher altitudes, the under storey consists principally Buxus hildebrandtii, whilst in peripheral and lower areas the main species are Acacia seyal, Acacia etbaica and Acacia mellifera. Scattered large Ficus sp. occurs throughout. Beyond the forested plateaus at high altitude are extensive basalt plains with scattered shrubs including many Euphorbia sp. There are valleys with permanent open water in many areas, favoured habitat of the regionally vulnerable endemic Bankoualé palm Livistona carinensis.

is the home to 70% of the land based biological diversity. Ecology of this landform is considered an isolated outlier of the Ethiopian Montane forest hotspot & Ecozone, as important island of forest in a semi desert.

In terms of ecosystem of global and national significance, the Forêt Du Day is the home to 70% of the land based biological diversity and hosts a variety of rare, extremely arid-adapted globally threatened as Critically Endangered Djibouti Francolin, Leopard, Dragon and Livistona trees. Further it has survived for many centuries as biological diversity genetically reservoir and important natural resources to feed and contribute the community livelihood in a highly desert landscape in areas of the Djiboutian dry highlands.

Further, at Forêt du Day, the juniper woodland, which is a rest of an ancient forest, is in poor condition with a high proportion of trees dead or dying. Other concerns include firewood collection on lower slopes, hunting and human disturbance. Part of Forêt du Day was declared a National Park in 1939 and more recently protected area, but the designation is no longer valid before than at present time (Government 2004). In addition to its biodiversity importance, Forêt du Day Ecosystem provides natural resources (fire wood, grazing pasture) and environmental services (water supply, erosion control) which are vital to local livelihoods. The deteriorating natural environment is therefore of concern to local people.

The reasons for the poor condition of the juniper woodlands of Forêt du Day is unclear, but overgrazing by cattle, camels and goats, is certainly a major factor, possibly exacerbated by acid rains, climate changes and fungal diseases with no scientifically study evidences. Other threats include firewood collection, hunting and human disturbance. Although the species’ ecology and biology are also poorly known and its persisting behaviour to occur in dead and extremely degraded juniper woodland remains unclear for its long-term survival.


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