African Tropical Rainforest Observation Network

Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene Jungle Scene


  • October - November 2015
Northern Kenya tropical montane forest (photo: Aida Cuni Sanchez 2015)

Dr Cuni-Sanchez visited three unknown Tropical Montane Forests (TMF) in northern Kenya (Mt Nyiro, Mt Kulal and Mt Marsabit) to set up 24 0.2 ha permanent plots. TMF can store large quantities of Carbon but they have been poorly studied, especially in Africa. These plots will help assess AGB and start monitoring these forests, which are highly threatened by degradation and climatic changes.  Dr Patrícia Vieira Pompeu (Federal University of Lavras, Brazil) and CL Sørensen (University of Copenhagen), and six technicians assisted with the work. The work was funded by a Marie Curie Actions Intra-European Fellowship, and forms part of the project ASEC: Avoiding the socio-ecological collapse of remnant evergreen forests in drylands: the case study of northern Kenya.

The plots found in the misty forests were a 6 hour trek from the sandy desert-like lowlands! The challenges were many: steep terrains, cliffs, wildlife and cold. The mist hampered the use of a laser to measure tree height, and the local Samburu pastoralist communities borrowed tree tags for their use as music-making bracelets at their traditional ceremonies! But the semi-nomadic pastoralists were very welcoming and offered the team warm tea every time they spotted them!

In this remote part of northern Kenya, more than 500km away from Nairobi in terrible roads, pastoralists depend on these forests for everything: from water, firewood, medicine to even fodder during drought events (which are becoming more common). Locals can climb a 25m tree to cut a few branches of ‘loleontoi’ (Olea capensis) to feed their cows. So far, a few tree species never reported for northern Kenya were found, and the research continues!

Team at camp, Northern Kenya (photo: Aida Cuni Sanchez 2015) Samburu pastoralist community, Kenya (photo: Aida Cuni Sanchez 2015)