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Changes in forest cover in Kenya's five "water towers"

2000 -2003

Changes in the main catchments

Click to download REPORT (pdf 2,526 KB)

This report presents the findings of the detection of major forest cover changes between 2000 and 2003 in Kenya’s five main forest blocks, namely Mt. Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Complex, Mt. Elgon and the Cherangani Hills. Based on satellite imagery (Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper) with a resolution of 30 metres, the analysis of changes enables the detection of major forest cover changes, in particular encroachment. Such analysis will be undertaken every two years in order to provide all concerned stakeholders with an early warning system that will enable them: 1) to identify threatened forest areas in time; and,
2) to prioritize their interventions in these areas to reverse detrimental forest cover changes.

The findings are mapped and overlaid with the constituency and district boundaries.

The results show a number of important changes in the forest cover in the main upper catchment areas of the country between 2000 and 2003. It should be noted that only changes occuring in the three years, 2000-2003, are discussed in this report.

Mau Complex

The most affected catchment is the Mau Complex where some 7084.24 hectares of forest have been clear-felled, representing 1.8 percent of the total area. Much of the areas cleared were under indigenous cover. The Mau is clearly an ecosystem that requires urgent attention to curb rampant destruction of indigenous forest.

Mt. Kenya

Mt. Kenya forest showed signs of significant improvement. 6013.5 hectares of previously deforested areas seem to be regenerating. The impression that the results give is that the conservation strategies in place over this period are likely to be effective. The 2003 satellite image for Mt. Kenya had some cloud cover, so that other changes cannot be absolutely ruled out.

Mt. Elgon

The satellite images for Mt. Elgon were also cloudy and as a result, only three sites were detected with significant changes. Of these, one site shows a loss of 1029 hectares of indigenous forest caused by a fire. The other two sites located in the forest plantations show regeneration.

Cherangani Hills

The least affected forests are those on the Cherangani Hills with only 174.3 hectares deforested. However this loss is occurring in indigenous forest cover. This area should be checked urgently to prevent further destruction.

Aberdare Range

The aerial survey report on the Aberdares of April 2003 showed destruction of the forest through illegal logging, charcoal production and grazing by cattle. Unfortunately Image differencing could not detect these changes due to high cloud cover above the affected areas in the 2003 image.

Click to download REPORT (pdf 2,526 KB)