Community-based Conservation of Threatened Plant species in Ngutwa-Nzaui area.
Mr. Justus Munywoki and Madam Vivian Kathambi have today, 16th December 2022, carried out an awareness meeting on conservation of threatened plant species such as Millettia vatkei (Utw’aa), Pavetta teitana (Muthongoi), Euphorbia friesiorum (Musilia), and Thunbergia napperae in Ngutwa-Nzaui area. The training was attended by about 40 people drawn from the community.
Ngutwa-Nzaui Landscape is part of an emerging Lower Eastern Biodiversity Hotspot (Sebsebe et al., 2017), whose biodiversity uniqueness compares to the Eastern Arc Mountains Biodiversity Hotspot (Young, 1984).
The landscape harbors a wealth of endemic and threatened flora. Six (6) plant species new to science have been discovered in the area (including Aloe ngutwaensis & Dorstenia arachniformis that are listed as Critically-Endangered (IUCN)). Unfortunately, this crucial (yet less-celebrated) habitat is being ‘LOST’.
Land Use Land Cover Changes (LULCCs) emanating from anthropogenic modification of ecosystems have greatly impacted the provision of Ecosystem goods and services, thus, adversely affecting the locals’ livelihoods and the environment. Hence, understanding the historical LULC changes within Ngutwa-Nzaui is fundamental for future land-use planning and natural resource management by the relevant stakeholders.
The area has lost about 20,000 acres of natural vegetation from 1987 to 2020. Some of the factors driving such changes were identified as agricultural expansion, overgrazing, selective logging and human settlements.
Additionally, the training emphasized on alternative sources of livelihood instead of destructive activities to the environment. The trainees were encouraged to plant grass ecotypes that can do well in the area i.e. Brachiaria cv. Basilisk, Brachiaria cv. Piata and Brachiaria cv. Toledo.
The market for this type of grass is unending as mentioned by one of the farmers in attendance. Other potential nature-based micro-enterprises that the community can engage include doing community tree nurseries, adoption of modern beekeeping technologies, strengthening existing hay production & marketing, ecotourism ventures e.g. bird watching.
The training was Sponsored by The Rufford Foundation based in United Kingdom and hosted by National Museums of Kenya.