Kenya: Shimba Hills Forest Landscape Restoration Project


The Shimba Hills Forest Landscape Restoration Project was undertaken in 2004 by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Lafarge Group to restore degraded stands of Kenya’s coastal rainforest adjacent to the Shimba Hills Reserve. These forests have been badly degraded as a result of pressure from encroaching human populations, and it is hoped that in addition to community tree nurseries and buffer-zone seedling plantations, practitioners can begin effecting lasting restoration measures through outreach activities and sustainable management practices. The project has placed much emphasis on reducing the demand for forest resources by reshaping local subsistence activities and building economic alternatives into the restoration model.

Quick Facts

Project Location:
Shimba Hills, Kenya, -4.2572222, 39.38777779999998

Geographic Region:

Country or Territory:

Tropical Forest

Tropical Forest - Moist Broadleaf

Organization Type:
NGO / Nonprofit Organization


Project Stage:

Start Date:

End Date:

Primary Causes of Degradation

Deforestation, Mining & Resource Extraction

Degradation Description

The Shimba Hills Reserve is surrounded by poor farming communities that place tremendous anthropogenic stress on forest resources, extracting firewood, harvesting edible and medicinal plants, encroaching on forested lands, etc.

A high population of roaming elephants (numbering approximately 700) is also a significant cause of degradation, as they damage vegetation and threaten endangered plant life.

Reference Ecosystem Description

The Shimba Hills Ecosystem is part of the World Wildlife Fund’s Eastern Africa Coastal Forest Ecoregion, and is one of the world’s 25 biodiversity hotspots. More than 50% of the 159 rare plants in Kenya are found in the Shimba Hills, including several endangered species of cycad and orchids. The region is also a nationally important site for birds and butterflies, and it contains Kenya’s only population of the Sable Antelope. Elephants, giraffes, buffalo, Roan Antelope, black and white colobus monkeys, warthogs, and serval cats are also found in the Shimba Hills.

Project Goals

The objectives of the project are:

To work in collaboration with local communities in the restoration of degraded forests adjacent to the Shimba Hills Reserve.

To develop sustainable (and where possible) alternative livelihoods for forest-dependent communities that emphasize wise and balanced utilization of the ecosystem.

To ensure the applicability of the Shimba Hills Ecosystem Management Plan to the wider landscape around the reserve by providing effective methods for the implementation of its participatory component.


The project does not have a monitoring plan.


A management committee was created under the auspices of the project in order to bring together key stakeholders and organize outreach activities. One of the project’s primary foci was reducing pressure on forest resources through capacity building for alternative livelihoods. Toward this end, educational materials were created; incentives for community tree planting were introduced; and stakeholder workshops were held to encourage collaboration in conservation-related activities.

As a result of training provided for communities in pilot villages, community meetings (barazas) are now being held to build environmental awareness and popularize participatory planning, thereby helping to develop a common vision for the use and management of forest resources. These communities are also planting trees on their farms in order to meet their subsistence needs for poles and fuel wood and ease pressure off the forests. Furthermore, school and youth groups are being encouraged to start their own tree nurseries to supply seedlings for the replanting of denuded areas. The tree species being promoted for use are intended to provide other services to the communities, such as: fuel wood, fodder for livestock, fruit trees, beekeeping, and production of handicrafts and wood carvings.

Description of Project Activities:
The following activities were encompassed by the project: --Completion of the Shimba Hills Ecosystem Management Plan --Establishment of buffer-zone tree plantations along the boundary of the Shimba Hills Reserve --Construction of 4 water tanks and installation of rainwater harvesting systems at 2 primary schools in the target communities --Plantation of 12,000 seedlings at 6 schools in target communities around the reserve --Presentation of 10 community sensitization workshops around the reserve

Ecological Outcomes Achieved

Eliminate existing threats to the ecosystem:
Approximately 33,000 seedlings have been planted in the target area to date.

Factors limiting recovery of the ecosystem:
The most likely factor to limit recovery is the same that has precipitated degradation: anthropogenic pressure stemming from local subsistence activities.

Socio-Economic & Community Outcomes Achieved

Economic vitality and local livelihoods:
These coastal forests are central to local livelihoods, as they provide water, wood for fuel, medicinal plants, and other needed goods and services. As such, their health and longevity is crucial for the economic solvency of local communities.

Long-Term Management

The following strategies have been envisaged to ensure the results of this project and expand its applicability to neighboring areas:
–Extend project sites to cover the whole perimeter of the Shimba Hills National Reserve
–Extend buffer zone plantations along the whole reserve boundary
–Produce tree and tree nursery management guidelines
–Enhance community tree nursery support
–Enhance community livelihood support to all communities along the reserve boundary (e.g. beekeeping, butterfly farming, etc)
–Initiate enrichment planting within the reserve
–Initiate innovative farmland protection against wildlife damage
–Continue annual Stakeholders workshops
–Sustain and strengthen project management committee

Sources and Amounts of Funding

in excess of 400,000 USD Funding was provided by the Lafarge Group (parent company of Bamburi Cement) as part of the Global Conservation Partnership between Lafarge and the WWF.

Other Resources

Moses Litoroh-Research Assistant, KWS
Kwale, Kenya
Email: ,

Sabine Baer-Rehabilitation & Ecosystems Manager, Lafarge Eco Systems/Bamburi Cement,
Mombasa, Kenya

John Salehe-WWF-Eastern Africa Coastal Forests Ecoregion Coordinator
Nairobi, Kenya

Primary Contact

Organizational Contact