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Kenya’s Protected Area Estate 13

Conservation Value / Status of Forest Landscapes in West Evergreen/ Hill Forests 15

Risk Analysis 47

Project Contribution to BD-1 Indicators 49

Climate change adaptation implementation action plan. 52

Replication Implementation Action Plan 54

Summary of Global and National Benefits 68

Summary of Sector Ministries with policies and acts supporting forests. 93

Primary NGOs Involved in Biodiversity Conservation in Kenya 95

Key Stakeholders and Roles and Responsibilities 96

Stakeholder participation principles 97


Figure 1.Protected Areas of Kenya: National Parks and National Reserves (Source: KWS) 12

Figure 2.Forest Cover in Protected Areas in Kenya (Source: KFS) 15

Figure 3.The Cherangani Hills Landscape (Source: KFS, 2009) 18

Figure 4.The Kakamega and South and North Nandi forests Landscape 20

Figure 5.GoK Institutional Framework for Environmental Management 28

Figure 6.Project Hierarchy 58

1.3Abbreviations and Acronyms

ACC African Conservation Centre

ARK A Rocha Kenya

AWF African Wildlife Foundation

BCP Biodiversity Conservation Programme

CAP Community Action Plan

CAP Council for African Partners

CARE Cooperative for Relief and Assistance Everywhere

CBD Convention on Biological Diversity

CBFM Community Based Forest Management

CBNRM Community Based Natural Resource Management

CBO Community Based Organisation

CBT Community Based Tourism

CCA Community Conserved Area

CDTF Community Development Trust Fund

CEF Community Environment Facility

CFA Community Forest Association

CIA Central Intelligence Agency

CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species

COP Conference of the Parties

CPB Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

CRM Community Resource Management

CSO Civil Society Organization

DSA Daily Subsistence Allowance

EANHS East African Natural History Society

EAWLS East Africa Wildlife Society

EIA Environmental Impact Assessment

EIS Environmental Information System

EK Ecotourism Kenya

EMCA Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999)

EU European Union

EXA Executing Agency

FAN Forest Action Network

FGD Focus Group Discussion

FoC Friends of Conservation

FR Forest Reserve

FSP Full-Sized Proposal

GDP Gross Domestic Product

GEF Global Environment Facility

GEF Global Environmental Authority

GOK Government of Kenya

Ha hectares

IA Implementing Agency

IBA Important Bird Area

ICD Integrated Conservation and Development

ICIPE International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology

IGA Income Generating Activity

IUCN International Union for the Conservation of Nature (World Conservation Union)

IUCN-EARO IUCN East Africa Regional Office

JFM Joint Forest Management

KATO Kenya Association of Tour Operators

KEEP Kakamega Environmental Education Programme

KES Kenya shillings

KFS Kenya Forest Service

KFWG Kenya Forest Working Group

KNR Kakamega nature Reserve

KTB Kenya Tourist Board

KTDA Kenya Tea Development Authority

KTDC Kenya Tourist Development Corporation

KTF Kenya Tourism Federation

KWS Kenya Wildlife Service

Logframe Logical Framework

M&E Monitoring and Evaluation

MEA Multilateral Environmental Agreement

METT Management and Effectiveness Tracking Tool

MoA Ministry of Agriculture

MoL Ministry of Livestock and Development

MoU Memorandum of Understanding

NAP National Action Plan

NBSAP National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

NEAP National Environment Action Plan

NEF Nandi Hills Environmental Forum

NEMA National Environment Management Authority

NGO Non Governmental Organisation

NK Nature Kenya

NMK National Museums of Kenya

NP National Park

NPEP National Poverty Eradication Plan

PA Protected Area

PAC Project Advisory Committee

PAS Protected Areas System

PES Payment for Ecosystem Services

PFM Participatory Forest Management

PIC Project Implementation Committee

PPG Project Preparation Grant

PS Policy Specialist

REDD Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

SIDA Swedish International Development Agency

Spp. Species

SSG Site Support Group

SSS Site Support Specialist

TA Technical Assistance

TF Task Force

ToR Terms of Reference

UN United Nations

UNCCD United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

UNDP United Nations Development Programme

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

UNEP United Nations Environmental Programme

UNFCCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

USD United States Dollar

UWA Uganda Wildlife Authority

WCPPA World Commission on Parks and Protected Areas

WRI World Resources Institute

WRMA Water Resources Management Authority

WRUA Water Resources Users Association

WWF World Wide Fund for Nature

WWF-EARPO World Wide Fund for Nature - East Africa Regional Programme Office

2.PART IA: Situational Analysis

2.1Biophysical Context

2.1.1Country Location and Overview

  1. Kenya lies astride the equator on the eastern coast of Africa. A medium-sized country by continental standards, it covers an area of about 586,600 km². Inland water bodies cover some 10,700 km2, the bulk of this in Lakes Victoria and Lake Turkana. Kenya is bordered by Somalia and the Indian Ocean to the east, Ethiopia to the north, Sudan to the north-west, Uganda to the west and Tanzania to the south. The coastline, which is about 550 km long, faces the Indian Ocean.

  2. Kenya has tremendous topographical diversity, including glaciated mountains with snow-capped peaks, the Rift Valley with its scarps and volcanoes, ancient granite mountains, flat desert landscapes and coral reefs and islets. However, the basic configuration is simple: coastal plains give way to an inland plateau that rises gradually to the central highlands, the result of relatively recent volcanic activity associated with the formation of the rift valley. To the west the land drops again to the Nyanza plateau that surrounds the Kenyan section of Lake Victoria.

  3. The coastline is broken and composed of beaches, coral cliffs and reefs, creeks and numerous offshore coral islands. Inland, a mainly level but narrow coastal plain lies on sedimentary rocks, with some igneous intrusions such as Dzombo and Mrima. Beyond low rolling hills lies the so-called Nyika plateau, mainly on sedimentary rocks. This is largely a thorn-bush plain with seasonal drainage lines and a few isolated rocky hills. This landscape covers almost the entire north-eastern sector of the country, on a very gradually-sloping plain.

  4. The Great Rift Valley, with its associated escarpments and mountains, is a major feature. It runs the length of the country from Lake Turkana in the north to Lake Natron on the southern border with Tanzania. The central portion of the rift is raised, with the Aberdare Mountains and Mt Kenya to the east and the Mau Escarpment and the Cherangani Hills lying to the west. The northern and southernmost sectors of the rift are low-lying, arid and rugged, with spectacular volcanic landforms.

  5. The region west of the central highlands is characterised by Precambrian metamorphic rocks and linear basement hills. Mt Elgon, an ancient, eroded volcano, intrudes through this shield on the Uganda border. The Lake Victoria basin generally has a gently sloping landscape and an eroded surface that exposes granitic outcrops.

  6. Isolated hills and mountains, such as Mount Kulal, Mt Nyiro and Mt Marsabit, are scattered to the north and east of the central highlands. The Taita Hills, rising from the south-eastern plateau, are an ancient fault-block formation, the northernmost of a chain of isolated peaks (the Eastern Arc) that stretches south to Malawi through eastern and southern Tanzania. They sit adjacent to one of the region’s most recent volcanic ranges, the Chyulu Hills.

2.1.2Climate and Water

  1. Kenya is generally a semi-arid or even arid country; over 75% of its area is classed as arid or semi-arid with only around 20% being viable for agriculture. Inland, rainfall and temperatures are closely related to altitude changes with variations induced by local topography. Generally the climate is warm and humid at the coast, cool and humid in the central highlands, and hot and dry in the north and east. Kenya is regarded as a chronically water scarce country with a limited natural endowment of fresh water, amounting to only 647 cubic meters per capita per year (recommended minimum is 1000 cubic meters).

  2. All of Kenya’s major rivers drain from its highlands, making them crucial water towers for the country and divided by the Rift Valley into those flowing westwards into Lake Victoria and those flowing eastwards towards the Indian Ocean. There are five major drainage basins: Lake Victoria, the Rift Valley, the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River (and coastal areas to its south), the Tana River and the northern Ewaso Ngiro. Kenya only has a small part of Lake Victoria’s water surface, but the Kenyan catchment contributes a disproportionate 33% of its surface inflow, some 470 million cubic metres a year.1 The Rift Valley contains several internal drainage basins, forming a chain of endorheic lakes from Lake Natron on the Tanzanian border, through Lakes Magadi, Naivasha, Elmenteita, Nakuru, Bogoria, Baringo and Turkana. These lakes vary in alkalinity, from freshwater Lake Naivasha to the intensely alkaline Lake Magadi. Lake Turkana is a large body of (more or less) fresh water in an otherwise arid and barren part of the country, while a number of rivers, including the Turkwel, Kerio, Athi-Galana, Tana and Northern and Southern Ewaso Ngiro, flow for long distances through dry parts of the country. Here they may often be the only permanent source of water.

2.1.3Biodiversity of Kenya

  1. Kenya has a wide range of ecosystems, ranging from coral reefs and mangroves, through semi-desert and dry savannah, saline and freshwater lakes, to moist forests (including coastal forests in coastal areas and Afromontane forests in interior mountain areas), which give way at high altitudes to afroalpine vegetation. The country is rich in species, with 359 species of mammals, 1,100 of birds, 324 of herpetofauna, and 7,000 species of vascular plants. Many of these species have restricted distributions, particularly montane species, which are often restricted to single ranges or volcanic outcrops. The country has established an extensive network of protected areas to conserve biodiversity, covering over 11% of the land area of 586,600 km2. These comprise 51 terrestrial National Parks and National Reserves (44,400 km2), set up to protect wilderness areas harbouring large mammals and administered by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), as well as over 270 Forest Reserves (10,600 km2), administered for multiple use purposes (mainly production, but also for catchment management and biodiversity conservation) by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

  2. Kenya is rich in biological diversity: roughly 25,000 species of animal and 7,000 plants have so far been recorded, along with at least 2,000 species of fungi.2 An enormous range of species inhabit the country’s varied habitats, from coral reefs to alpine moorland, but the biology of the vast majority of these organisms is little known. Their value to Kenya’s human population, as sources of useful genes, as food or medicine, or as vital parts of ecological systems, has been little studied.

  3. Dean & Trump have mapped 19 distinct biotic communities, which can be conveniently lumped under 10 general headings:3

  • Afro-alpine moorland (1.2% of total land area) occurs above c. 3,000m, on Mt Kenya, the Aberdare Mountains, the Cheranganis and Mt Elgon. The vegetation is sparse at the upper levels (above 3,800 m), with species of giant Lobelia and Senecio; below this is grassland and Erica shrubland, often with stands of Hagenia abyssinica in sheltered spots.

  • Highland grassland (0.05%) occurs above c. 2,400 m on either side of the central Rift Valley (in the Kinangop and Mau Narok/Molo grasslands). This restricted habitat is not covered in any protected area and is one of the most endangered in Kenya. Many tussock-forming grass species occur. Other important grassland types include fire-induced grassland (3.1%, e.g. parts of the Masai Mara) and seasonal floodplain and delta grassland (4.7%, e.g. the Tana River Delta). Grassland also occurs on alkaline volcanic ash (0.2%), for example to the south of the Chyulu Hills.

  • Highland moist forests (2.0%) occur between c. 1,500 m and 3,000 m in areas that receive rainfall of more than 1,200 mm per year. A mosaic of forest and bamboo Arundinaria alpina is often present at the higher levels. Typical montane forest trees include species of Podocarpus, Olea, Juniperus and Newtonia, but the forest type varies greatly according to altitude and rainfall.

  • Relicts of Guineo-Congolian rainforest (0.1%) occur in western Kenya, in and around Kakamega Forest. Despite its relatively high altitude (1,700 m), in terms of biogeography Kakamega is the easternmost outlier of the great tract of tropical rain forest that once extended across equatorial Africa. The average annual rainfall is over 1,900 mm, and typical tree species include Celtis, Aningeria, Croton, Fagara and Manilkara. The North and South Nandi Forests are transitional between the Guineo-Congolian and montane forest types.

  • Several types of coastal forests and woodland (0.1%), characteristic of the Zanzibar-Inhambane Mosaic phytochorion, occur along the narrow coastal strip. These patches are mainly small and are relicts; the forest structure and composition vary greatly according to soil type and rainfall. Characteristic trees include Cynometra, Manilkara, Afzelia, Brachylaena and Brachystegia. Coastal evergreen bushland (0.4%) also occurs, in a mosaic with cultivated land; this is almost always a secondary vegetation type. Coastal palmstands, often in tall grassland, are a rare vegetation type covering less than 0.1% of the land area. They are concentrated near the Ramisi River in the south, and around the Tana River Delta in the north.

  • Elsewhere, highland dry forests (0.4%) occur on hilltops that attract mist and rain (e.g. Mt Marsabit and the Taita and Chyulu Hills). Riverine forests (e.g. along the Mara River) and groundwater forests (e.g. Kitovu) together make up c. 1.5% of the land area.

  • Thorn bushland and woodland are the most extensive vegetation types in Kenya (41.7%), running from Amboseli in the south through the Tsavo parks to north-east and north-west Kenya. Characteristic tree species are Acacia, Commiphora and Combretum spp., while grasses include species of Hyparrhenia, Digitaria and Themeda. This habitat often contains concentrations of large mammals and many large protected areas are in this vegetation zone. It is often favourable for ranching and pastoral land. This vegetation grades into semi-arid wooded and bushed grassland (0.2%).

  • The north-central and north-western parts of the country are covered by semi-desert (16.8%) with characteristic shrubby thornbush species, mainly Acacia. In places, such as the Dida Galgalu and Chalbi Deserts and around Lake Turkana, areas of barren land (0.4%) occur, with very little vegetation. Marine beaches and dunes make up another 0.04% of the land area.

  • Wetlands are an important habitat in Kenya, covering about 14,000 km2 of the country’s land surface4. Strongly alkaline lakes (0.04%), mainly in the Rift Valley, lack macrophytes, except at river inflows, but may have large blooms of microscopic plants, notably the cyanophyte Spirulina species. Papyrus swamps, consisting largely of stands of Cyperus papyrus, are found in patches around the shores of Lake Victoria, mainly along river inflows. Elsewhere this habitat is widely scattered, with notable patches at Lake Naivasha and Lake Jipe. Only Lake Victoria’s papyrus holds the suite of bird species specialised in this habitat. Swamps of other Cyperus species, Typha or Phragmites occur locally but are rarely of any great size. Permanent swamps make up 0.11% of the land area, while bodies of freshwater cover 2.1% of Kenya’s surface area.

  • Mangrove swamps (0.2%) occur along parts of the Kenyan shoreline, especially in sheltered creeks and estuaries. Eight species of mangroves occur, the commonest of which is Rhizophora mucronata. Lamu District has the country’s most extensive mangrove swamps. Often on sandy shorelines are beds of seagrass (some 12 species are recorded), beyond the littoral zone or in deeper channels within it. Coral reefs and islands make up some 59,000 ha, or 0.1% of the land area.

2.1.4Protected Areas in Kenya

  1. Protected Areas (PA) constitute the bulwark for biodiversity conservation in Kenya. The PA estate includes National Parks, National Reserves, local sanctuaries, private sanctuaries, Forest Reserves, County Council forests and National Monuments. The estate is already extensive, consisting of more than 50 National Parks and National or Forest Reserves covering both terrestrial and marine environments and spanning roughly 10% of the country’s land area (or approximately 44,000 km2). Notably, a large proportion of the estate (over 20,000 km2) is accounted for by the two biggest National Parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West.

  2. Despite its size, the PA estate is not entirely representative of the country’s biodiversity endowment. The savannah and desert ecosystems are relatively well represented in the PA network, in part because they harbour large wildlife assemblages that are a draw-card for the economically important tourism industry. Kenya’s National Parks and National Reserves are currently mainly located in arid and semi-arid parts of the country, dominated by woodland, bushland and grassland habitats.

  3. In contrast, the forest ecosystems remain under-represented; this is particularly the case if only the protected areas created specifically for biodiversity conservation are factored into the equation. Very few of Kenya’s protected areas were designed to conserve biodiversity as such. Only about 6.2% of Kenya’s approximately 12,400 km2 of indigenous forest (including mangroves) is protected in National Parks and reserves.5 By contrast, some 85% of indigenous forest is included in gazetted Forest Reserves on both Government and Trust land. An additional 7% or so is ungazetted forest on Trust Land, some of it managed by KFS on behalf of County Councils. Some indigenous forest is still found on private land, but this is rare.

  4. Thus a great deal of the country’s biodiversity endowment is found outside the PA system, in small scattered refugia. The traditional protected area approach and legislation (e.g. National Parks, Forest Reserves) is not readily applicable to the management of such small areas, which are typically on private, community or trust land. In addition, the resources available to the State for conservation, both financial and human, are limited and already overstretched. Simple expansion of the existing network will effectively dilute funds and human effort per square kilometre proportionally.

  5. Two of the country’s three ‘Biodiversity Hotspots6are forest ecosystems, namely the Eastern Afromontane and the Eastern Africa Coastal Forests. The Hotspot status of these areas underscores their conservation value, which is amplified by the ecological services that they provide (such as carbon sequestration in above and below-ground biomass). The Eastern Afromontane Hotspot is divided into forests on volcanic soils, such as the Aberdares, Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon, all with the exception of Mount Elgon located to the East of the Great Rift Valley, and forests in non volcanic areas (referred to as the West Evergreen/ Hill Forests), located in Western Kenya to the West of the Great Rift Valley.

  6. Currently, forests on volcanic soils are well protected within the protected area system. In contrast, the PA system in the West Evergreen/ Hill Forests consists of just one National Reserve, covering an area of 4,470ha, or 1% of the total western forest landscape. A total of 40 Forest Reserves covering 428,000 hectares (ha) have been created in the western forest area. Approximately 50,000 ha of forest are currently unprotected outside of the protected area system.

  7. Figure 1 details the PA estate of Kenya in terms of its National Parks and National Reserves. The highland areas of Western Kenya are conspicuously unprotected to this level.

  1. Protected Areas of Kenya: National Parks and National Reserves (Source: KWS)

  1. Additional sites have been listed (or proposed for listing) for protected status under international conventions, such as the Ramsar and World Heritage Conventions. Kenya also encourages private wildlife sanctuaries. The exact number of these is unclear; although the IUCN protected areas database lists over 50, some of which seem likely to have no formal conservation management.

  2. The following table presents a preliminary summary of the distribution of Kenya’s Protected Areas, with regard to status, broad ecosystem type and functional purpose. However this analysis is complicated by several factors, including the following:

  • Different legally constituted areas may overlap, for example Kakamega Nature Reserve (NR), under KWS jurisdiction, is still legally gazetted as a Forest Reserve (under KFS). Thus the Kakamega FR official area is 18,300 ha, but this includes the NR area of some 4,470ha;

  • A protected area recognized for one ecosystem may have a much larger area of other ecosystems. Mount Kenya for example covers 74,500 ha, 9500ha of which is Eastern Montane Forest (eastern Volcanic Mountains), with the remaining portion being afro-alpine heath;

  • Different institutions may manage or help manage areas that are normally the mandates of other institutions. For example, in the Mount Kenya case, KWS has been instructed by the government to take over the management of most of the peripheral forest. In the Mau Forest Complex, the MoU between KFS and KWS has led to KWS assisting forestry in patrols, communications and training.

  • Within the Forest Reserve category (a KFS mandate) there is no legal or formal separation into productive or protective reserves. It was assumed that all reserves could fulfil all roles, such that selective logging could uphold the capability of the catchment as well as biodiversity habitats. However, as selective logging increases in intensity, these multiple roles no longer hold true. However, parts of Reserves could be zoned (as within a Management Plan) or set aside for pure conservation through the use of key biodiversity areas.

  1. Kenya’s Protected Area Estate



Area ha

% Kenya

% all PAs

Terrestrial National Parks

Forested NPs

Non Forested NPs





Terrestrial National Reserves

Forested NRs

Non-Forested NRs


Forest Reserves (not mangrove, not plantations). Of this:

Coastal Forests

Dryland Forests

Volcanic Montane Forests

West Evergreen / Hill Forests














Sources: Wass, P (1995) Indigenous Forest of Kenya IUCN; Draft Wildlife Policy 2006/07 Government of Kenya

  1. In terms of National Parks (NP), Nairobi National Park was the first NP in Kenya, when it was established in 1946. Currently there are 22 terrestrial NPs and four marine NPs. Terrestrial NPs cover an area of some 29,000 km2, approximately 4.9% of Kenya’s land area, and vary in size from just 192 ha (Saiwa Swamp) to more than 11,700 km2 (Tsavo East National Park). All are administered by KWS.

  2. In terms of National Reserves (NR), there are a total of 28 National Reserves (including marine sites) administered by the local authorities in Kenya. Two additional reserves – Marsabit and Shimba Hills – are administered by the Kenya Wildlife Service. Terrestrial National Reserves occupy some 15,000 km2, about 2.6% of Kenya’s total land area. They are PAs with reduced level of status to National Parks.

  3. National Monuments are areas of cultural and religious importance. A number of the sacred "kaya" forests at the Kenya coast are already gazetted as national monuments and others have been proposed. Although fairly small these forests are important for biodiversity conservation as well as for their cultural values. National Monuments are administered by the National Museums of Kenya.

2.1.5Amount of Forest Cover in Kenya

  1. About 2.6% of the Kenya’s total land area is covered by indigenous closed canopy forest7, representing approximately 15% of the high potential agricultural land. Around 16,000 km2 are gazetted as Forest Reserves, a figure that includes 10,600 km2 of indigenous closed canopy forests and 1,600 km2 of exotic plantations.8 Another 1,800 km2 of indigenous forest cover is found outside gazetted areas. Wass (1995) lists some 255 separate Forest Reserves in Kenya, of which 52 are not yet gazetted. They range in size from less than one hectare to almost 200,000 ha in the case of Mount Kenya.

  2. All Forest Reserves (FR) are government land, gazetted under the Forest Act. Certain consumptive uses of forest resources are permitted under licence9. Forest Reserves often contain habitats other than indigenous forest. Many are at least partly made up of plantations of exotic trees, and within their boundaries they often also include large areas of primary or secondary grassland and scrub.

  3. Around the perimeter of at least 14 reserves lie Nyayo Tea Zones, totalling about 11,000 ha. These comprise land assigned to the Nyayo Tea Zone Development Corporation, which was created through a Presidential Order in 1986 and an Act of Parliament in 1988. These areas were cleared and (in some cases) planted with tea to create a forest buffer zone, but remain part of the Forest Reserves since they were not de-gazetted. Within some Forest Reserves are areas gazetted as Nature Reserves, within which no consumptive use is officially permitted. 11 Nature Reserves are listed, with a total area of some 53,000 ha. Though over 90% of Kenya’s forest cover has been gazetted within some type of protected area, the protection is in most cases inadequate. The average annual rate of loss of forest cover through degradation appears to be about 1%, with the highest rates occurring in forests near or in high potential agricultural lands.

  4. Forest cover has decreased drastically over the last 20 years. It is estimated that about 19,000 ha of forest cover are felled or converted each year and total forest cover in Kenya now stands at just 2%. With over 80% of the population depending on biomass as their main source of fuel, this has serious implications for the remaining forests unless management is improved.

  5. Figure 2 illustrates the amount of forest cover remaining in Kenya as a whole (not woodland). The highlands of Western Kenya are of huge significance in the proportion of forest cover found in the landscapes within that area relative to the national context.

  1. Forest Cover in Protected Areas in Kenya (Source: KFS)

2.1.6Significance of Biodiversity of the Montane Forest habitat

  1. The Eastern Afromontane Hotspot ranges from Ethiopia in the North to Malawi in the South, and from Kenya in the East to the Eastern Congo in the West. In Kenya, the Hotspot includes the West Evergreen/ Hill Forests to the west of the Rift Valley, as well as outlying volcanoes (Mount Kenya, the Aberdares Range) to the east of the Rift. The volcanoes tend to have less overall species richness, as cataclysmic eruptions have periodically laid waste to these areas. Nevertheless, the volcanic areas are well represented in the PA system, for tourism, in the Aberdares and Mount Kenya National Parks.

  2. The West Evergreen/ Hill Forests are comparatively less well represented and protected in the PA system. This area may be sub-divided bio-geographically into four zones, including major forest blocks and smaller patches: the Western Mountains (the Mau Forests, and the Cherangani Hills), and two landscapes classified as Western rainforest (the Kakamega Forest and the North and South Nandi blocks). A summary of the conservation value and status of each of these landscapes is provided in Table 2 below.

  1. Conservation Value / Status of Forest Landscapes in West Evergreen/ Hill Forests



PA Area

General Conservation Value

Conservation Status

Western Non-Volcanic Mountains

Cherangani Hills



(61,500 is forest)

Old block faulted mountains 3365m 5 distinct forest types plus heath At least 5 plant endemics in alpine heath, important gradient of forest communities with altitude and aspect, 3 endemic butterflies, 73 forest birds: five are globally significant.

Fragmented 13 FRs, in two blocks. A mixture of forest, heath and plantation

Mau Summit

(part un-gazetted)


270,300 ha

Variety of wet dry evergreen forest communities with grass and swamp areas. >70 forest dependent bird spp, 8 of global significance; rare and threatened larger mammals: bongo, forest hog, yellow-backed duiker; Endemics include > 5 plants, plus 3 endemic orchids, >3 endemic butterflies, >12 endemic forest gastropods.

A mosaic of gazetted and non-gazetted trust land, forest, plantation, scrub, farm

Western Rain Forest – Eastern Extremity of Guinea-Congolian Forest Block

Kakamega Forest


18,300 of which 4,470 ha is NR

Described as one of Kenya’s richest forests, 194 forest dependent bird species, 16 globally significant. With Nandi Forests forms a Centre of Bird Endemism. Endemic plant (4) and butterfly (3) taxa, several mammal species of West African affinity – eg Golden cat, bat, shrews. Fragmentation has led to loss of species (e.g. bongo)

A mosaic of primary and secondary forest, plantations

South Nandi



Higher altitude forest, Transition between Congolian and EA Montane forest. Bio-geographically unique as is shows affinities to West African and East African Montane areas, eg of 56 forest birds 24 have western and 32 eastern affinities.

Both once connected to Kakamega, now separate.

North Nandi



Smaller FRs


< 50,000

Several small but distinct evergreen forest and thicket habitats, poorly described, eg Lembus, Tinderet forest reserves.

Poorly Protected.



> 40,000

Non gazetted and non-protected trust land around main forest blocks

Unprotected, being converted

  1. Biodiversity loss in the West Evergreen/ Hill Forests is being caused by the conversion of forest and forest-grassland mosaics to permanent agriculture including smallholder farming, and commercial tea estates. Timber extraction, charcoaling, and the unsustainable extraction of minor forest products also contribute to forest degradation, a second cause of biodiversity loss. Hunting constitutes a third threat.

  2. The most complete conversion in the Hotspot occurs outside the PAs, and small unprotected forest patches are particularly at risk. While there is little degradation in the National Reserve, the Forest Reserves are currently being degraded to different degrees by over use. Most suffer from incompatibilities between production (i.e. timber harvest) and biodiversity conservation needs. A “ban” on timber exploitation brought into effect in 1995 prevented the utilization of plantations, and displaced pressures from them, leading to the illegal use of natural forest areas.

2.1.7The Cherangani Hills Landscape

  1. The Cherangani Hills are located within 1°16’S, 35°51’E in Rift Valley Province, within the Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Trans-Nzoia Districts. The hills cover an expansive area measuring about 95,600 ha and span an altitudinal range of 2,000–3,365m above sea level. The Hills are composed of metamorphic rocks, with conspicuous quartzite ridges and occasional veins of marble. The soils are well drained and moderately fertile. The Hills form an undulating upland plateau on the western edge of the Rift Valley. To the east, the Elgeyo Escarpment drops abruptly to the floor of Kerio Valley, while westwards the land falls away gently to the plains of Trans-Nzoia District. The hills reach 3,365 m at Cheptoket Peak in the north-central section. The areas forests constitute an important water catchment area, straddling the watershed between the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins.

  2. Streams to the west of the watershed feed the Nzoia River system, which flows into Lake Victoria; streams to the east flow into the Kerio River system. The area receives relatively high rainfall (mean annual rainfall in the Cherangani hills varies from around 1,200 mm in the east to at least 1,500 mm in the wetter west, which catches the moist prevailing winds from Lake Victoria.). The area receives bi-modal rainfall with long rains occurring during the months of April – June and short rains in July – October. The area is relatively cool with a mean temperature of 18.6 ºC, the highest and lowest temperatures are respectively, 30 and 10 ºC.

  3. A series of FRs have been gazetted in the area. These are made up of thirteen administrative blocks, totalling 95,600 ha in gazetted area. Of this, approximately 61,500 ha is closed-canopy forest, the remainder being formations of bamboo, scrub, rock, grassland, moorland or heath, with about 4,000 ha under cultivation and plantations.10 Kapkanyar, Kapolet and Kiptaberr Forest Reserves together form a block of forest in the West, totalling about 20,000 ha. To the east, the Forest Reserves of Lelan, Embotut, Kerrer, Kaisungor, Toropket, Chemurokoi, Kupkunurr, Cheboit, Sogotio and Kapchemutwa are less well connected. Apart from a large south-eastern block along the escarpment crest, the forests here are fragmented and separated by extensive natural grasslands, scrub and (especially in the central part) farmland.

  4. The forests are of several different types.11 The lower western parts of Kiptaberr-Kapkanyar are clothed in Aningeria-Strombosia-Drypetes forest, with a large area of mixed Podocarpus latifolius forest on the higher slopes. The southern slopes hold Juniperus-Nuxia-Podocarpus falcatus forest, with heavily disturbed Podocarpus falcatus forest on the eastern slopes. Valleys in the upper peaks area shelter sizeable remnants of Juniperus-Maytenus undata-Rapanea-Hagenia forest. Tree ferns Cyathea manniana occur in stream valleys, and there are patches of bamboo Arundinaria alpina, though there is no bamboo zone as such. In clearings, Acacia abyssinica occurs among scrub grassland which harbour a diversity of flowering plants. At higher altitudes, the forest is interspersed with a mixture of heath vegetation and swamps, the latter with Lobelia aberdarica and Senecio johnstonii. Much of this heathland may be maintained by burning and grazing12. Relict Juniperus and Hagenia trees sparsely occur. Especially in the east, there is a mosaic of vegetation types with little obvious altitudinal zonation. Mabberley (1975) ascribed this to the hills’ varied topography and the long history of cultivation, grazing and fire.

  5. The Cherangani hills are home to forty-nine of Kenya’s 67 restricted range Highland bird species. The avifauna of the Cherangani Hills is characteristic of the highland forests of Kenya west of the Rift Valley, which combine central highland species and western species. Ecological surveys have recorded over 73 forest-dependent bird species.13 Regionally-threatened species are: Lammergeier, nesting on the high peaks, African Crowned Eagle, Red-chested Owlet, Kapkanyar14 Purple-throated Cuckoo-shrike;1516 and Thick-billed Honeyguide. Other endemic/threatened species include the Bongo Tragelaphus euryceros, a Red Data Book-listed species, which has been recorded here in the past, but its current status is unknown. The butterfly Capys juliae is endemic to the Cherangani Hills.17 Two Giant Senecio taxa, Senecio johnstonii battiscombei var. cheranganiensis and S. johnstonii battiscombei var. dalei, are endemic to the Cheranganis. Two notable lobelias, Lobelia deckenii elgonensis and Lobelia cheranganiensis, are shared with Mount Elgon, as is Alchemilla elgonensis.

  1. The Cherangani Hills Landscape (Source: KFS, 2009)

2.1.8The Kakamega Forest Landscape

  1. Kakamega forest is located in 0˚17’N, 34˚53’E in Kakamega District in Western Province. The forest land measures 18,300 ha, but only 12,000 ha is under forest. The forest lies in the Lake Victoria catchment, about 40 km north of Kisumu, and just west of the Nandi Escarpment that forms the edge of the central highlands. The altitude of the forest ranges from 1,550 to 1,650 m above sea level.

  2. The area receives high rainfall with a mean annual rainfall ranging from 1250 to 1750mm. Rainfall is bimodal with long rains occurring in April to May, while short rains fall in December to January. The area experiences moderate temperature ranges with a mean maximum temperature range of 26 – 32 ºC, while the minimum temperature is in the range of 14 – 18 ºC. Kakamega Forest is an important water catchment; the Isiukhu and Yala Rivers flow through the forest and gather tributaries from it. The terrain is undulating, dissected by steep-sided river valleys. The soils are well-drained, deep, heavily leached clay-loams and clays, of generally low fertility.18

  3. Kakamega Forest is a mid-altitude tropical rainforest, the easternmost outlier of the Congo Basin forests. Its Central African affinities are unique in Kenya, and the forest contains many species found nowhere else in the country.

  4. Kakamega is classified as a Forest Reserve under the Forest Act. Part of the FR was gazetted as a National Reserve in 1985. It was first gazetted as Trust Forest in 1933, and two small Nature Reserves, Yala and Isecheno (totalling about 700 ha), were established within the Forest Reserve in 1967. In 1986, nearly 4,000 ha of the northern portion of the forest, along with the adjacent 457 hectare Kisere Forest, were gazetted as a National Reserve, managed by the Kenya Wildlife Service.

  5. Only an estimated 10,000 ha of the overall gazetted area is still closed-canopy indigenous forest, of which some 3,200 ha is designated National Reserve.19 The remaining area consists of grassy and bushed glades (some natural, some maintained by fire or grazing), tea, cultivation and 1,700 ha of plantations (some more than 50 years old) of softwoods and commercially valuable hardwoods. Kakamega forest falls within an agriculturally rich area making the forest vulnerable to threats of alienation for various land uses.

  6. Kakamega has a rich diversity of trees, with common genera including Croton, Celtis, Trema, Antiaris, Bequaertiodendron and Zanthoxylum.20 Endemism is low, however, the only woody endemic being the liana Tiliacora kenyensis.

  7. The forest is home to globally-threatened species, restricted-range species and Guinea-Congolian Forests biome species. The avifauna is well studied, rich, and unusual in its composition. Kakamega’s avifauna is unique not only nationally, but continentally. The 194 forest-dependent bird species (the highest total for any Kenyan forest) include 40 of Kenya’s 43 Guinea-Congolian Forests biome species, as well as 33 of Kenya’s 67 Afrotropical Highlands biome species. At least 16 bird species occur in Kakamega but nowhere else in Kenya, and another 30 are probably now confined to this site. The grassy glades have their own distinctive avifauna, with many moist-grassland species that are now rare elsewhere in western Kenya.

  8. The mixture reflects Kakamega’s altitudinal position between lowland and montane forest. Several species have isolated, relict populations here, including Ansorge’s Greenbul, the Blue-headed Bee-eater, Chapin’s Flycatcher, the Grey Parrot and Turner’s Eremomela, which are absent from all or nearly all of the superficially similar mid-elevation forests in Uganda. The presence of the eremomela indicates biogeographic links to the Eastern Congo Lowlands Endemic Bird Area. Kakamega itself has few endemic taxa; among birds, there is an endemic sub-species (kavirondensis) of Ansorge’s Greenbul.

  9. Other wildlife found in the forest are large populations of Black-and-white Colobus Colobus guereza and Red-tailed Monkey Cercopithecus ascanius schmidti, and small numbers of de Brazza Monkey Cercopithecus neglectus. Several Central African forest mammals occur, such as Potto Perodicticus potto, Giant Otter Shrew Potamogale velox and Lord Derby’s Anomalure Anomalurus derbianus.21 The small mammal community is also diverse and shows strong affinities to the Congo basin. At least 28 snake species are recorded, including the rare Gold’s Cobra Pseudohaje goldii and other West African species such as the Barred Green Snake Philothamnus heterodermus carinatus, Black-lined Green Snake Hapsidophrys lineata, Jameson’s Mamba Dendroaspis jamesoni kaimosae, Green Bush-viper Atheris squamiger squamiger, Prickly Bush-viper Atheris hispida and Rhinoceros-horned Viper Bitis nasicornis. Two notable and probably endangered forest amphibians, Leptopelis modestus and Hyperolius lateralis, are recorded.22 The forest’s butterfly fauna is very diverse and important, both regionally and continentally; around 350 species are thought to occur, including at least one endemic species, Metisella kakamega, and a near-endemic, Euphaedra rex.23

  1. The Kakamega and South and North Nandi forests Landscape

2.1.9The North and South Nandi Landscape

  1. North Nandi forest is located in 00˚00’S, 35˚00’E in Rift Valley Province. It measures approximately 10,500 ha. The altitude of the forest is in the range of 1,700 to 2,130 m above sea level and the mean annual rainfall varies from 1243 mm in the Tinderet area to 2179 mm in Chebut. The highest temperature is 23ºC while the mean minimum temperature stands at 12ºC.

  2. Biogeographically, North Nandi is transitional between the lowland forests of West and Central Africa (the easternmost outlier of which is Kakamega) and the montane forests of the central Kenya highlands. It is higher in altitude than Kakamega and the vegetation is floristically less diverse. Common trees include Diospyros abyssinica, Croton macrostachyus, Syzgium guineense and Celtis africana, with a dense undergrowth of Acanthus and Brillantaisia.

  3. This is a strip of high-canopy forest on the edge of the Nandi escarpment, above and immediately east of Kakamega Forest.24 North Nandi forest stretches for more than 30 km from north to south and is 3–5 km wide for most of its length. Drainage is mainly westwards into the Kigwal and Kimondi River systems, which flow through the South Nandi forest25 and westwards into the Yala River and Lake Victoria. The forest lies east of Kakamega forest.

  4. North Nandi was first gazetted in 1936 as a Trustland Forest covering 11,850 ha. It is classified as a forest reserve under the Forest Act. In 1968 the North Nandi Nature Reserve was established covering 3,434 ha. Since gazettement, a total of 1,343 ha have been excised, including part of the nature reserve. An additional 410 ha has been converted to into a Nyayo Tea Zone. Of the present gazetted forest area (10,500 ha), approximately 8,000 ha is indigenous, closed-canopy forest, the remainder consisting of cultivation, scrub, grassland, plantations and tea.26

  5. All areas outside the Nature Reserve were originally slated for conversion to plantation forest, but this conversion has not taken place. The forest remains a relatively narrow strip, under severe pressure from illegal timber extraction, charcoal burning, forest grazing of livestock and unsustainable removal of forest products (firewood, honey and medicinal plants).27

  6. North Nandi hosts globally-threatened of birds. The avifauna is similar to that of Kakamega Forest, being a mixture of species characteristic of two biomes: the Guinea-Congolian Forests (24 out of 43 Kenyan species) and Afro tropical Highlands biomes (34 out of 67 species); around 160 species in all are recorded.28 The forest belongs to the Kakamega and Nandi Forests Secondary Area of bird endemism, defined by the presence of the globally-threatened, restricted-range Chapin’s Flycatcher.29 North Nandi is less rich in species than Kakamega and its bird communities have a larger montane element. There have been no recent surveys here and the present status of North Nandi’s rare birds, including Chapin’s Flycatcher, is unknown.

  7. Other wildlife found in the forest are Potto Perodicticus potto, Lord Derby’s Anomalure Anomalurus derbianus and African Palm Civet Nandinia binotata (all rare in Kenya), as well as the rare West African chameleon genus Brooksia.

  8. South Nandi Forest is located within 0˚05’S, 35˚00’E in Nandi District in Rift Valley Province. The forest land measures approximately 18,000 ha, with the area under forest measuring about 13,000 ha. The forest is within an altitudinal range of 1,700–2,000 m above sea level. The forest lies just west of Kapsabet town and south of the main Kapsabet-Kaimosi road. South Nandi was once contiguous with Kakamega Forest (IBA 58)30 and the two forests are still no more than a few kilometres apart at their closest points.

  9. Rainfall is high (1,600 to 1,900 mm per year) depending on altitude. The forest is drained by the Kimondi and Sirua rivers, which merge to form the Yala river flowing into Lake Victoria. The landscape is gently undulating and underlain by granitic and basement complex rocks, which weather to give deep, well-drained, moderately fertile soils.

  10. South Nandi is classified as a Forest Reserve under the Forest Act. It was gazetted in 1936 as a Trust forest covering 20,200 ha, since then approximately 2,200 ha have been excised for settlement, around 340 ha planted with tea, and 1,400 ha planted with exotic tree species. Of the remaining area, around 13,000 ha is closed-canopy forest, the rest being scrub, grassland or cultivation.

  11. South Nandi is transitional between the lowland forests of West and Central Africa (the easternmost outlier of which is Kakamega) and the montane forests of the central Kenya highlands. Common trees include Tabernaemontana stapfiana, Macaranga kilimandscharica, Croton megalocarpus, C. macrostachyus, Drypetes gerrardii, Celtis africana, Prunus africana, Neoboutonia macrocalyx and Albizia gummifera.31

  12. The forest hosts globally-threatened species and Guinea-Congolian Forest Biome species. The avifauna, like that of North Nandi, is mainly Afromontane, but with strong western affinities. There is so far no comprehensive bird list, but the forest holds at least two-thirds (29/43) of the Kenyan species characteristic of the Guinea-Congolian Forest biomes.32 A survey in 1996 recorded 111 species of forest birds, including 47 forest specialists.33

  13. South Nandi Forest is likely the most important site in the world for the threatened Turner’s Eremomela exceptionally high densities of this little-known species. The estimated population is 13,000 birds34 (around 0.27 groups/ha, representing 1.1 birds/ha), and is probably its world stronghold. Regionally-threatened species are: African Crowned Eagle,Red-chested Owlet, Thick-billed Honeyguide, Least Honeyguide, Grey-chested Illadopsis, Grey-winged Robin, Yellow-bellied Wattle-eye, and Southern Hyliota (Zimmerman et al. 1996, Waiyaki 1998).35

  14. Other wildlife found are two threatened mammal species: Leopard Panthera pardus and Giant Forest Hog Hylochoerus meinertzhageni. Black-and-white Colobus Colobus guereza occurs in reasonable numbers. The Bongo Tragelaphus euryceros is reported to occur but there are no confirmed records.

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