• Kijabe Forest Trust

    Conserving Kijabe Forest, Kenya

In Brief

Location:

Kijabe Forest, Kikuyu Escarpment, central Kenya

Goal:

To halt deforestation and reverse degradation of the Kijabe Forest by improving forest management and working collaboratively with local communities.

Conservation Value:

As part of the eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot, this dry upland forest is home to a wide array of flora and fauna and is a key transition zone between the mesic upland forests and the drier savannah ecosystems of eastern Africa. Straddling the eastern wall of the Great Rift Valley, the altitudinal variance of roughly 1,000 metres is reflected in floral communities. Key species for conservation include East African sandalwood, African olive, and African pencil cedar. Additionally, a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and birds have been recorded, including larger mammals such as leopard, spotted hyaena, Maasai bushbuck, suni, eland, honey badger, aardvark, and black and white colobus. Kijabe Forest is part of the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest Important Bird Area, designated by Birdlife International. The forest also provides significant ecosystem services to surrounding communities. These include hydrological services to an estimated 200,000 people in the catchment area, as well as carbon cycling, soil stabilization, and forest products such as fuelwood, seeds, and honey.

Threats:

The Kijabe Forest is part of the eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot and was historically connected to the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest Reserve. However, the Kijabe Forest strip has become geographically isolated due to encroachment, resource pressures, and land use change. Kijabe Forest falls under the management of the Kenya Wildlife Service, but due to geographic and financial constraints, the forest has largely been unmanaged for the past three decades. 

Kijabe Forest Rangers

Actions & Results:

  • Kijabe's 12 rangers have continued their patrols since the team was formed in 2017. This past year has seen a slight uptick in illegal activity in the forest, and this has resulted in multiple warnings and even a number of arrests. 
  • The rangers have been trained by a Kenyan enviornmental lawyer in how to enforce the law and the relevant legal frameworks under which they operate. This has given them confidence to deal with people committing destructive actions in the forest. This year they will be trained by a naturalist in general ecology, identification and record keeping.
  • Pressure on the forest persists, however, and KFT hopes to increase the number of rangers to 18 in 2020.
  • Over 30,000 indigenous seedlings were planted in severely degraded areas in 2019, and a greenhouse has been established to provide inexpensive seedlings onsite. 
  • KFT is helping develop non-timber forest product enterprises for the communities, including leleshwa oil, pine resin, croton nuts and juniper berries.
  • Eco-tourism is starting to take hold in the area, with hikers, rock climbers and mountain bikers bringing income to the neighboring communities.

Project Field Partner:

Kijabe Forest Trust

Size of Area Involved:

Roughly 5,000 hectares of primary forest reserve, which serves as a critical water catchment area for several growing communities.

Cost:

2020 budget (ICFC portion):  US$59,474
Cumulative cost to ICFC (2017-2019):  CA$174,197

Support this project

In More Depth...

Map of Project area
Location of Kijabe Forest in Kenya, and (to right) two maps showing the reserve. The image to the far right shows the boundaries gazetted by the Kenya Forest Service, as well as total forest cover in 2012.

 

Threats
A juniper (Juniperus procera) felled for timber

 

Charcoal commerce is a cause of deforestation

 

The landslides of 2013 devastated communities and cut off access to Kijabe Hospital.

 

Demand for cedar posts is another driver of deforestation.
Non-timber Forest Products
Cape chestnut seeds are a high value product

International Conservation Fund of Canada Copyright © 2009-2020