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S.3 Geography Notes

Mountain or Montane Vegetation

This type of vegetation is found on the slopes of Adamawa highlands, Drakensberg Mountain, Ethiopia highlands, Atlas Mountains, Cameroon highlands, Blue Mountains and Mufumbira ranges.

The vegetation is not uniform all over the mountain due to the effect of altitude, temperature, moistures availability and slope steepness.

The vegetation zonation starts at the base of the mountain

  • At the base there is savanna vegetation (at the lower levels, dry bush or scrubs, grading upward into Savanna grassland and then into woodland, which finally merges into true forest).
  • On the lower slopes of the mountain where the rainfall totals are high, there is thick forest (rain forests –at the lower levels grading upward into temperate forests) at 1800metres above sea level.
  • Temperate forest is not as large as those in the equatorial forests, and with altitude they become smaller. Ferns and Epiphytes are abundant. The leading species of trees in these forests include pod carp, Cedar and Camphor.
  • Near its upper limit, these trees dwindle to low forests that are densely populated with mosses.
  • Above 3000 metres, this forest usually merges into a very dense thicket of Bamboo.
  • Above 3,500metres, the vegetation is limited to treeless vegetation. The plants found at this level are adapted to cold and bleak conditions, and the vegetation is alpine, scrub, grassland and heath.
  • Other plants in this zone include giant lobelia, giant groundsel, and bromeliad (Heath and moorland. The upper limits of plant growth in Africa are between 4400 - 4500 metres.
  • Above 4500 metres there is snow and bare rocks because the temperatures are too cold to permit plant growth as illustrated below:


Montane vegetation is characterized by the following

  • Altitudinal zonation of forest vegetation for example tropical forests at the lower altitudes/slope replaced by temperate forests at mid slopes, coniferous and bamboo forests on the upper most slopes.
  • The tropical forests at low altitude are of mixed stand and have two layer canopy
  • Tropical forests are hard wood
  • Temperate, coniferous and bamboo forests are in pure stand and single canopy
  • Temperate and conifers are soft wood, have thick bank or waxy barks, needle shaped leaves, straight trunk, cone shaped trees and some species have hollow stems.
  • Thick cover of moss/cabbage leaf growth and tress ferns
Economic value/Benefits
  • There is the growing of tropical and temperate crops like wheat, barley, pyrethrum, Arabica coffee, grape vine, Oranges, on the lower and upper slopes of mountains.
  • It has led to the development of Dairy farming because of the cool temperature on the gentle slopes of mountain Atlas and Ethiopian highlands.
  • Lumbering activities due to the presence of Equatorial and temperature forests leading to the development of pulp and paper industry.
  • It has led to the development of Tourism due to the presence of flora and fauna.


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