Nature Kenya

Status of registration of the group at national level

Nature Kenya The East Africa Natural History Society (EANHS) is a nonprofit membership society.

Governance and management structure of the group

Nature Kenya —The East Africa Natural History Society was established in 1909 to promote the study and conservation of nature. It is Africa’s oldest scientific membership society. The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is the highest governing body and elects the executive committee. The executive committee manages the executive director, who is responsible for 43 full-time (core and project) staff.

The 2015–2020 strategic plan focuses on four pillars: saving species, conserving sites and habitats, encouraging ecological sustainability and empowering people. To save species and conserve sites, Nature Kenya works with local community-based Site Support Groups (SSGs), which are set up or adopted by Nature Kenya. After training in a range of technical and governance areas, SSGs work as biodiversity monitors, educators and advocates. SSGs also aim to improve community members’ livelihoods by promoting income-generating activities, which are supported by Nature Kenya and its partners. Ecological sustainability is encouraged through policy engagement, ensuring that biodiversity is mainstreamed into development and various sectors of the economy. Land purchase is one of Nature Kenya’s site-conservation tactics and, thus far, Nature Kenya is managing 200 acres of nature reserves and is planning to buy an additional 530 acres.

Exact location, including geographic coordinates

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

Short description of the area and 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.

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.

Estimated value ($) of a single hectare (average)

US$300. One acre currently costs US$150 but, in January 2018, an acre was only US$80–100. Prices are increasing quickly.

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.