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CTFS - ForestGEO Africa Database Workshop and Symposium in Washington, D.C.

CTFS – ForestGEO hosted its Africa database training workshop last week in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. The 10-day workshop was generously supported by Chris Davidson. David Kenfack, CTFS – ForestGEO Africa Program Coordinator, and Suzanne Lao, CTFS - ForestGEO Database Manager, ran the workshop for five of our African forest dynamics plots partners. For most participants, this was their first time traveling to the United States, which provided an opportunity for the research team to meet and work together in person.

From left to right: Paul Musili (Mpala, Kenya), Pulcherie Bissiengou (Rabi, Gabon), Alexander Mengnjo (Korup, Cameroon),
David Kenfack (Korup, Cameroon); Mpala, Kenya; Ngel Nyaki, Nigeria) Amani Ngoma (Ituri, Rep. of Congo), Hazel Chapman (Ngel Nyaki, Nigeria), and Suzanne Lao. 

At the workshop, participants dove into learning data entry techniques through the CTFS database system.  The goal of the training workshop was to form capacity within each of the respective forest dynamics plot for managing and utilizing forest plot data. The participants learned numerous concepts from utilizing Structured Query Language (SQL) commands with sample data to creating and digitizing maps in R. The participants represented the forest plots in Gabon, Kenya, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.  

From left to right: Pulcherie Bissiengou, Amani Ngoma, Paul Musili, and Suzanne Lao hard at work.

On October 21st, CTFS – ForestGEO held a symposium at the museum, “Plant Systematics and the ForestGEO Network in Africa,” geared towards highlighting the workshop participants and their research. David Kenfack introduced the African forest dynamics plots and some of the plant systematics challenges we face in central Africa. Research talks followed by Pulcherie Bissiengou, Rabi forest plot in Gabon and the National Herbarium of Gabon, and Paul Musili, Mpala forest plot in Kenya and the National Museums of Kenya. Pulcherie discussed her recent dissertation work on the systematics, evolution, and historical biogeography of Ochnaceae. Paul Musili discussed systematic studies in Schoenus L. (Schoeneae, Cyperaceae) sedges in Kenya. The symposium concluded with David discussing the importance of long-distance dispersal for the biogeography of the transatlantic tree genus (Meliaceae, Sapindales). 

Paul Musili, Systematic studies in sedges Schoenus L. (Schoeneae, Cyperaceae).

The workshop concluded with an opportunity for the participants to work on their forest plot data in the CTFS database and a chance to explore the city of Washington, D.C. before departing. A big thanks to everyone who participated, and CTFS - ForestGEO looks forward to the continual support of ongoing projects and progress in the African plots!