We saved him!

Short description of the area and the land to be purchased

The proposed land purchase lies within Dakatcha Woodland, a Key Biodiversity Area, covering nearly 2,000 square kilometres in the rolling hills of Magarini subcounty in Kilifi County. Dakatcha Woodland comprises Mrihi (Brachystegia spiciformis), Mfunda (Cynometrawebberi), mixed forests and thickets. The area’s seasonal wetlands, with sedge and grass, provide nesting sites for the Endangered Clarke’s Weaver (Ploceus golandi).

The forests and thickets trap, store and release rainwater; protect the fragile soil from erosion; and moderate the local climate. The trees and shrubs absorb greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, thus slowing climate change. The plants also provide medicines, food and fibre to the local communities.

Name of Group: 

Nature Kenya

Country: Kenya

 Website: naturekenya.org

Exact location: DMS S 3° 1′ 53.547” E 39° 57′ 26.191” DD -3.0315407 39.95727540000007

Backed by: Scientific Advisory Committee

 Ecoregion: Eastern Miombo woodlands

Reasons to prioritize

Dakatcha Woodland is a refuge for endangered species found at only a handful of other sites. The Endangered Clarke’s Weaver (Ploceus golandi) is found in only two places on Earth: Dakatcha Woodland and Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, on the coast of Kenya. But Clarke’s Weaver ONLY nests in Dakatcha Woodland. Thus without the Dakatcha Woodland, Clarke’s Weaver, in particular, would become extinct.

Other threatened birds include the Endangered Sokoke Pipit (Anthus sokokensis), the Endangered Sokoke Scops Owl (Otus ireneae), Fischer’s Turaco (Tauraco fischeri) and Southern Banded Snake Eagle (Circaetus fasciolatus). Dakatcha Woodland is also home to the Endangered Golden-rumped Sengi (or Elephant-Shrew, Rhynchocyon chrysopygus). More than eleven rare plant species are also found here, including the tree Warburgia stuhlmannii, shrub Pavetta linearifolia, succulent Monadenium invenustum and orchid Eulophia serrata.

Dakatcha Woodland is part of the East African Coastal Forests Global Hotspot. It is also classified as one of 200 ecoregions of the world. This site is therefore of critical conservation value to Kenya and the world.

Only two conservation tactics can guarantee conservation success:

  1. land purchase
  2. formal protection

Nature Kenya is pursuing both options with local communities and is working to set up Community Conservation Areas. However, formal gazettement, or protection, is a long process and success is not assured — that is why land purchase is an immediate solution.

Land here is possibly the cheapest in Kenya. As a result, there is now a rush to grab land. Nevertheless, prices are increasing. Nature Kenya wants to buy land now. We know that in few years to come we will not be able to afford the same land purchase.

Main threats

Despite its biodiversity importance, Dakatcha Woodland has no formal protection status. As a result, the woodland’s economic and ecological services to the local community as well as its remarkable biodiversity are under threat.

Poor land tenure systems — most land is unregistered and residents don’t have title deeds—discourage investment in sustainable agriculture. High unemployment creates dependency on forest resources. For example, in the process of making charcoal for sale, local communities clear Cynometra forests and thickets, which are critically important habitat for bird species.Encroachment for agricultural expansion, especially pineapple production and logging, also contribute to the destruction of the woodland. Despite water scarcity and soil that erodes easily, outside investors and land speculators see this land as desirable for exploitation.

Although the largest population of Clarke’s Weaver lives in a Protected Area (Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, on the coast of Kenya), the bird is only a seasonal migrant and does not breed there. The loss of the Clarke’s Weaver breeding ground in Dakatcha Woodland is an assured path to its extinction.

Conservation plan for the purchased land

In the short term, Nature Kenya will own the land through registered trustees. In the long term, Nature Kenya will own the land outright. However, if the government agrees to gazette the land as a national reserve, ownership would revert to the government. Either way, Nature Kenya will remain a permanent trustee/supporter of the land, and the Clarke’s Weaver’s habitat in Dakatcha Woodland will be secured.