Ecological restoration in the sub-afromontane region of Kenya

Overview

The project aims to maintain the largest collection of cultivated native plant species in East Africa and to be a source of both restoration expertise and propagative material for other reforestation projects in the sub-afromontane region of Kenya. Plants for Life International is aiming to create a unique example of a model indigenous forest for the region with increased plant biodiversity.
The project will support replanting of new areas of forest with native trees, clearing of invasive species, and expansion onto nearby public and private land. Collection trips to remote locations will be conducted to obtain new species, specimens and propagative material from protected & unprotected degraded areas. To address the lack of botanical knowledge, training courses will be held for national and regional trainees, aimed at NGO and governmental workers that are involved in native tree planting reforestation. Finally, the project will demonstrate to local communities in and around the project site that substantial economic and social benefits can be derived from mature, diverse forests of indigenous species, without compromising their ecological integrity.

Quick Facts

Project Location:
Brackenhurst, Kenya, -1.121048, 36.670390999999995

Geographic Region:
Africa

Country or Territory:
Kenya

Biome:
Tropical Forest

Ecosystem:
Tropical Forest - Moist Broadleaf

Area being restored:
40

Project Lead:
Plants for Life International

Organization Type:
NGO / Nonprofit Organization

Project Partners:
CBD/ FERI

Location

Project Stage:
Implementation

Start Date:
2018-01

End Date:
2019-03

Primary Causes of Degradation

Agriculture & Livestock, Deforestation, Invasive Species (native or non-native pests, pathogens or plants), Urbanization, Transportation & Industry

Degradation Description

Environmental degradation has been rampant in the county whereby there is massive felling of trees in forests like Kinare forest, leading to high risk of soil erosion and desertification.
This has been brought about by increased population pressure and fuel demand by most industries. The development of industries coupled with population pressure has significantly increased the pollution levels including air pollution that the existing facilities are unable to handle. Pollution especially from industries for example: tea factories and coffee industries are real danger to the environment because of disposing effluents into air and the rivers in the county. The poor farming methods, pesticides and chemicals used in agricultural activities have also led to pollution of rivers and the environment. Other environment issues of concern in the county include; the mushrooming of slums and destruction of water catchments areas particularly because of farming on hillsides and on marginal areas

Defining the Reference Ecosystem

The reference ecosystem is based on diverse sources of information (e.g. multiple extant reference sites, field indicators, historical records, predictive data).

Project Goals

1) Continued restoration of a unique example of a created and model indigenous forest for the sub-afromontane region of Kenya with increased plant biodiversity, ensuring in situ and ex situ conservation of national and regional taxa threatened in their range;
2) A major drive for the eradication of invasive plant species which are the greatest threat to satisfactory forest restoration;
3) Expansion of the project onto nearby land (2 ha. of Government land and one ha. of private land on a tea plantation) based on existing agreements with local government authorities and tea plantation owners;
4) Addressing the lack of botanical knowledge by NGO and state actors in the planning and implementation of restoration projects in Kenya and in the region, which is a major constraint to successful restoration;
5) Demonstration to local communities in and around the project site that substantial economic and social benefits can be derived from mature, diverse forests of indigenous species, without compromising their ecological integrity.

Monitoring

Stakeholders

The local community is involved in four ways:
1. Local employment: all PLI staff, apart from the Director are local
2. PLI allow locals to come and harvest indigenous vegetables and medicine from the forest
3. Locals (farmers and schoolchildren) are encouraged to come for nature walks and environmental training
4. Small-scale tree planting on schools and community plots (including churches and institutions)

How this project eliminated existing threats to the ecosystem:
Control of invasive species in existing forest e.g. Cestrum aurantiacum, Acacia mearnsii, Solanum mauritianum and Eucalyptus regrowth, including on newly restored areas

How this project achieved a desirable species composition:
i) Replanting new areas of forest with native trees on areas cleared of invasive species ii) Five collection trips to remote locations to obtain new species, specimens and propagative material from protected & unprotected degraded areas such as Kakamega Forest, Mt. Kenya/ Aberdares, Taita Hills, Shimba Hills and Ukambani

Activities were undertaken to address any socio-economic aspects of the project:
i) Two, one week-long training courses for national and regional trainees, aimed at NGO & government/parastatal workers that are involved in native tree planting and reforestation as well as for participants from NGOs in Uganda and Tanzania ii) Demonstration to local communities in and around the project site that substantial economic and social benefits can be derived from mature, diverse forests of indigenous species, without compromising their ecological integrity

Ecological Outcomes Achieved

Eliminate existing threats to the ecosystem:
Large areas of invasive plants have been removed from the native forest. This is an ongoing process which has required the hiring of three teams of casual workers in the forest. This work is ongoing and challenging: the larger the area planted, the larger area under threat from invasives. Ideally, a larger team of casuals is required. Control of invasives is likely to be continued for the life of the project (2030).

Achieve a desirable species composition:
1000 trees have been planted on private land on a nearby tea farm. 1000 trees have been planted on government land. 4300 trees have been planted on Brackenhurst forest. Survivability is approx 95 % owing to exclusion of livestock. In addition 5000 trees were supplied (plus 12 specimens of rare species) to Friends of Karura forest, the protected forest within Nairobi. 400 trees were donated to Limuru Primary school plus 200 trees A.I.C. Ndeyia. All trees propagated in the tree nuresery are indigenous. 29 species are regarded as rare, endangered or vulnerable. 2 trips to remote locations have been made to collect Eastern Arc endemics species listed on IUCN Red List as rare, vulnerable and endangered.

Socio-Economic & Community Outcomes Achieved

Economic vitality and local livelihoods:
Mid-project report: Coffee training on site with external consultant; Bee-keeping consultancy for 10 new hives. PLI provided consulting services to Africa Wildlife Foundation (training and planting of indigenous trees).

Long-Term Management

PLI aspires to make this project the best model forest restoration site in East Africa. PLI has 13 years before achievement of a mature tropical forest with high plant and faunal diversity and >90 percent canopy cover over 40 ha. The project was awarded Level 3 accreditation with ArbNet in 2017(Morton Arboretum, Chicago).

Sources and Amounts of Funding

FERI: 53,500 USD

Other Resources

https://www.feri-biodiversity.org/brackenhurst

http://brackenhurstbotanicgarden.org/index.html

Primary Contact

Name:
Mark Nicholson

Affiliation:
Plants for Life International

City:
Brackenhurst

Organizational Contact

Name:
Anne de Valence

Affiliation:
SCBD

City:
Montreal

Email:
anne.devalence.consultant@cbd.int