Biodiversity in Kenya

Photo: Hannes Buchwald

November 29, 2019.  

Taita Hills, located in southeastern Kenya, is one of Kenya's major biodiversity hotspots. The area comprises several mountain chains that rise dramatically from the savannah lowlands up to 2,228 m above sea level. The Hills are home to many unique endemic plant and animal species. Once covered by cloud forests, most of the Taita Hills are today dominated by subsistence farmlands. Taita Hills, in particular its tree diversity, was assessed in autumn 2018 by a group of German and Kenyan scientists. 

As land use change continues, the big issue for nature conservationists is how much of this area's  unique biodiversity can be preserved or regained.  Changes in land use began in the seventies, when much of the primary forest vegetation was turned into eucalyptus, pine and cypress plantations. Wood and timber production for the national market was economically more profitable for ocal farmers than the preservation of indigenous forest vegetation.

In adjacent agricultural lands indigenous tree species were replaced by fast growing and economically profitable exotic species. Possible solutions developed by the research group include harvesting the eucalyptus trees and restoring the area with indigenous tree species despite technical and governance challenges (for example, the question of who should financially benefit from the harvest). Meanwhile, there are also positive developments.

For instance, ‘Nature Kenya’ and partners were granted the right to convert exotic plantation patches into natural forest. This will contribute to securing the habitat for endemic and other forest-dependent plant and animal species. There is also a growing awareness among local experts and communities that land use changes and the excessive planting of eucalyptus in the Taita Hills might have contributed to the drying up of natural springs.

Read more about this in the blog by ZEF senior researcher Christine Schmitt:


Christine Schmitt

Prof. Dr. Christine Schmitt


Diese Webseite verwendet Cookies

Diese Website verwendet Cookies – nähere Informationen dazu und zu Ihren Rechten als Benutzer finden Sie in unserer Datenschutzerklärung am Ende der Seite. Klicken Sie auf „Ich stimme zu“, um Cookies zu akzeptieren und direkt unsere Website besuchen zu können.
Read more