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The coastal terrestrial forests of Kenya: a report on resources, threats and investments
Githitho, A. (2004). The coastal terrestrial forests of Kenya: a report on resources, threats and investments. WWF: [s.l.]. 29 pp.

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    VLIZ: Non-open access 245688

Keyword
    East Africa
Author keywords
    coastal forests, resources, threats, investments

Author  Top 
  • Githitho, A.

Abstract
    The purpose of this report has been the assessment or re-assessment of the coastal forests of Kenya which fall within the Eastern African Coastal Forest Mosaic. The desk study sought to determine their current total area, distribution, quantity and quality. This was due to a recognition that although adequate information on coastal forests was available it was not fully collated for the purpose of planning for conservation projects in the area. Much of the information available also needed to be updated in the light of current knowledge and field experience. The study concluded that vegetation which falls within the definition of Eastern African Coastal forest and its variant was approximately 139 000 ha (1390km2) which included woodland and coastal scrub forest as defined by White (1983) and refined by Burgess et al (2003). The previous figure of 66 000ha (660km2) is closer to the extent of classical true closed forest in coastal Kenya using existing data. Only under half of the 1390km2 including most of the closed forest was protected by various types of legal gazettements, the remainder, mostly in the woodland and scrub forest remained unprotected. Most of the sacred Kaya forests of the Mijikenda were now protected as National Monuments. However, it was regretted that the data on which these estimates are made needs to be updated especially concerning unprotected forest areas which may have changed significantly since the last extensive survey was done almost 15 years ago. There is an urgent need to undertake a similar ground survey besides securing current remote sensing data for the coastal forest region. This exercise would provide the foundation for a comprehensive monitoring database system for coastal forests. Past and current investments in conservation projects for Coastal forest were also analysed revealing a bias towards certain forests due various historical factors as well as their relative accessibility. They were also the largest and important for biodiversity. To remedy in future this it was suggested that future projects should be targeted at new and more inaccessible areas which face increasing and in some cases extreme threat. Such sites include among others: 1) Tana Gallery Forests (under extreme threat). 2) The Lamu District Woodland Scrubland System (Boni, Lunghi, Dodori etc) 3) Brachystegia woodlands of Malindi North 4) The medium sized forests > 500 ha mostly ocurring in South Kwale District 5) Islolated Hill forest outliers such as Mwangea and Kilibasi 6) The small high diversity patches on limestone outcrops of Kilifi and Kwale District. Unfortunately despite the recommendations of numerous survey and other reports the above forest areas are still largely unprotected. A primary component of conservation projects in these forests should therefore include bringing these sites into protective management of one type or other. Experience over the years has proved the value of gazettement as a primary conservation tool even if resources often lack to follow through on monitoring and active management. A prioritization method undertaken by the Kenya Coastal Forest Task force in 2002 was revisited and seen to have merit. The prioritization however is best applied to identify and rank specific types of problems for intervention as opposed to absolute prioritization of sites. These include lack of baseline information, management infrastructure and level of immediate threat. It should be developed further and will serve as a useful tool to guide project development in future.

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