Population Status, Regeneration, and Distribution of Four Threatened Plants in Shimba Hills Ecosystem, Kwale County, Kenya

21 Jun 2022 Shimba Hills Ecosystem, Kenya, Africa Biodiversity | Forests | Habitats | Plants

Dorothy Atieno Ouko

Afrocanthium kilifiense, Pavetta tarennoides, Synsepalum subverticillatum, and Cola octoloboides are threatened plants found in Kenya within restricted ranges in the southern coastal forests and thickets. Compounded by the effects of climate change, these plants are primarily threatened by habitat loss and deforestation due to charcoal production, as well as firewood harvesting for fuel consumption. These plants have also not been studied extensively leading to a lack of knowledge about their population status and regeneration at present, hence predicting future suitable habitats are challenging.

This study aims at determining the population status, regeneration, and distribution (both current and future) of the aforementioned plants. Specifically, the investigation seeks to determine their abundance, structure, and regeneration, in addition to predicting their current and future habitat suitability under the influence of various climate change and social economic scenarios. It also seeks to assess the implication of mitigation/adaptation in the conservation and management of these plants and associated habitats based on the spatial outcomes of the climate and human-induced impacts

The findings from this study will contribute to the understanding and quantifying spatial dynamics and patterns of where climate change, human-induced pressure will overlap with sensitive and vital species of the Shimba Hills Ecosystem. Data on the population status and regeneration of the selected plants will provide blueprint information for monitoring and evaluation necessary for decision making, conservation planning, and management.

The mapping of the human impacts on the selected threatened plants and evaluating the vulnerability and adaptation potential/mitigation of the Shimba Hill Ecosystem will help improve the ability to prioritize actions for management of biodiversity in the area. It will also help identify specific areas across the species distributions that are free from those threats in which the species are sensitive (threat refugia). Both forms of information are also fundamental for conservation planning and management and can be used to inform action towards securing the identified impact refugia.

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