Species-diverse forest restoration in East Africa for biodiversity conservation

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Mark Nicholson

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In the year 2000, an indigenous forest restoration project was initiated in the highlands of Kenya by Plants for Life international at Brackenhurst, Tigoni. The site was registered as a botanic garden in 2006. Indigenous trees were propagated and planted on land previously used exclusively for exotic species, including cypress, eucalyptus, and wattle. Twenty hectares (50 acres) have now been restored. After an initial focus on planting trees, vigorous planting of an understorey layer of herbs, ferns, orchids, and shrubs (particularly Rubiaceae and Euphorbiaceae) followed in order to increase biodiversity and enhance restoration. The restored forest incorporates more than 600 East African woody species. Several threatened species are growing well and producing viable seed. Restoration efforts are generating information about propagation techniques and growth rates of indigenous species. The site is used for training and demonstrates that a highly diverse forest can be restored in the East African highlands in a short time. In addition to actively planted species, additional plant species are coming back naturally. Bird numbers on the site have doubled since restoration efforts began, and a wide diversity of mammals, invertebrates, and reptiles have reoccupied the site. The multitude of benefits and ecosystem services generated from planting a highly diverse forest in a highland area surrounded by tea plantations will be shared in this presentation, providing a valuable model for scaling up restoration efforts across East Africa, achieving AFR100 pledges whilst delivering biodiversity conservation.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration