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Kenya Wildlife Service hosts the launch of the BIOTA East Africa Atlas
Date Published: 25 Aug, 2010
The Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, Dr. Noah Wekesa receives a copy of the BIOTA East Africa Atlas from Prof. Getrude Schaab on his left. With him is KWS Director, Julius Kipng'etich.
Kenya’s Forestry and Wildlife Minister, Hon Dr Noah Wekesa, on August 24, 2010. Presided over the launch of the Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis (BIOTA) East Africa Atlas at the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) headquarters.
The purpose of the atlas, whose theme is ‘Conservation and sustainable use of East African rainforest ecosystems’, is to increase awareness of the vulnerable rainforest ecosystem, enhance sustainable management and conservation as well as contribute to scientific understanding of the ongoing change processes and resulting patterns.
The atlas will also contribute to making research outcomes widely visible and provide a comprehensive set of information needed in environmental education as well as policy formation.
The BIOTA project is a collaboration between the governments of Kenya and Uganda, with funding from the Germany Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Dr Wekesa said the project had brought the two East African countries closer in conservation matters which in the past had been conducted individually.
“Besides helping to refocus our nation on the critical value of forests, the atlas provides well researched data that will enable us make informed decisions on the restoration and maintenance of forests,” he said.
The minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to create self sustaining and multi-functional forest resources that will serve the social, educational and economic needs of the surrounding communities through development of environmental education programmes and facilities. This, he said, will promote the sustainable user and understanding of biodiversity.
The research project focused on Kakamega Forest in Kenya and Mabira and Budongo Forests in Uganda and was divided into three areas of education, decision making and research. Each of these, tailored to meet their specific needs and abilities.
Kenya has only two per cent forest cover, mainly made up of gazetted and trust land forests. This falls under the recommended ten percent forest cover globally. The Forest Act, 2005 and the new Constitution demands a 10 per cent cover for the country.
Theses policies are purposely intended to ensure better management of the environment as well as make it harder especially for illegal alienation of public land.
Kakamega Forest National Reserve is the only tropical rainforest in Kenya, left over from past millenia when dense rain forest stretched from West Africa, across Central Africa and into the highland areas on the west and eastern walls of the Great Rift Valley.
The forest has been a protected area of Kenya since its vital role in the eco-system was first recognised in 1933.
The forest includes some of Africa's greatest hard and soft woods: Elgon teak, red and white stink woods and several varieties of Croton and Aniageria Altisima. Splendid orchids sit amongst the branches of the larger trees.
The BIOTA East Africa project is an interdisciplinary biodiversity research framework funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (2001-2010).
The main collaborating institutions that took part in the research were the National Museums of Kenya (NMK), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS, Kenya Forest Service. (KFS), Kakamega Environmental Education Programme (KEEP), Uganda Government, Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Forestry Authority of Uganda.