Genetic and paleoecological signatures of African rainforest dynamics:

Pre-adapted to change?


AFRIFORD is a multi-disciplinary scientific program to understand how past climate changes and the activities of ancient indigenous societies have shaped the current distribution and composition of Central African rainforests and the genetic diversity of their constituent trees.

Program coordination, and for any information:

Olivier HARDY

Faculté des Sciences

tel 02 650 6585, fax 02 650 2445,

Campus du Solbosch

ULB CP160/12, avenue F.D. Roosevelt 50, 1050 Bruxelles


Site content and coordination :

State-of-the-art technologies for dendrochronology, paleo-environmental reconstruction, anthracology and genetics, often developed for African contexts by the partners of this project, will allow more detailed inferences than has been previously possible. This conjunction of genetics, paleoecology and vegetation modelling will allow to build a cross-validated scenario of tree species response (distribution range, adaptation) to environmental change in the Central African rainforest.

This project has great societal relevance by its generation of key new knowledge on the sustainability and resilience of African rainforest biodiversity and the diverse ecosystem services it provides. Project results should help decision-making in the context of international programmes (e.g. CITES, FLEGT, MAB and REDD+). Most partners are involved in teaching for MSc or PhD training programs in Africa, ensuring effective transfer of highly qualified competences and the commitment of locals into the project.

AFRIFORD will lead to:

  • Scientific publications in specialist journals (paleoecology, biogeography, molecular genetics, ecological modelling, wood biology,…) as well as generalist journals ; - Datasets to be included in international databases (African Pollen Database, BOLD, DRYAS, GBIF, Genbank, TreeBASE);

  • A vegetation modelling tool able to forecast the impact of climate change on vegetation distribution and biomass carbon balance ; - Training in African rainforest tree recognition for PhD, postdoc researchers and our African counterparts ;

  • A final project conference to present (i) the key scientific results of the project, (ii) the perspectives and priorities for new research, and (iii) the practical implications of project results for policy on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management ;

  • A book of peer reviewed conference proceedings.