Luki is an area of lowland forest which forms part of the Mayombe forest block near the Atlantic coast in the extreme western part of the country. The reserve lies to the north of the town of Boma and is part of the Luki river basin. Habitats include gallery forest, secondary forest (mature forest with Terminalia superba and Xylopia spp.; young secondary with Musanga cecropioides, Xylopia aethiopica and Corynanthe paniculata), wooded savanna (Hyparrhenia spp. etc.), secondary bush and areas with vegetable farming. Slopes are often very steep, especially in the centre of the reserve. There are four settlements within the reserve and in its immediate environs. There is a rainy season from October to April and annual rainfall averages between 1,155 mm and 1,818 mm.
See Box and Table 3 for key species. There is no detailed information on the birds of Luki, but it may be expected to contain a substantial element of the Mayombe avifauna. This fauna comprises several subspecies which are absent or rare from the central basin, e.g. Francolinus l. lathami (schubotzi in north-eastern central basin), Ceratogymna fistulator sharpii (duboisi), Psalidoprocne n. nitens (centralis), Bleda n. notata (ugandae), Alethe diademata castanea (woosnami), Illadopsis f. fulvescens (ugandae), Macrosphenus f. flavicans (hypochondriacus) and Erythrocercus m. mccallii (congicus).
Non-bird biodiversity: Large mammals have become scarce because of heavy hunting pressure and some (e.g. monkeys) have almost disappeared. Some 1,034 plant taxa have been recorded; the Mayombe forest is floristically very different from the forests in the central basin.
Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The site was established as a Forest Reserve in 1937. Although designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979, management has remained virtually non-existent. Forest exploitation is one of the main activities in Bas-Congo and logging has taken place within the reserve. Human population pressures are high; the region’s most densely populated areas are the nearby town of Boma and the villages along the Boma–Tschela and Boma–Matadi roads. Shifting agriculture, firewood-collection (especially along main roads), hunting, fishing and industrial logging have severely degraded the forest. The entire Mayombe forest is now very degraded and rapidly disappearing. Because the forest plays an important role in the region’s microclimate and in preventing erosion on the heavily sloping soils, its disappearance is bound to create serious environmental problems.
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Luki Forest Reserve. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.