Page 1 of 58
JWL 330: Principles of Biodiversity Conservation
1.1.1. Purpose of the Course
This course unit is designed to provide the student with knowledge of basic concepts of
1.1.2. Expected Learning Outcomes
At the end of the course the learner should be able to:
1. Identify the variety of biological resources in relation to their various ecological settings
including below and above ground.
2. Describe ecological functions and processes determining biodiversity.
3. Identify biodiversity challenges and design simple conservation solutions.
1.1.3. Course Content
Concepts and definitions of biodiversity. Descriptions of biological diversity; genes, species,
ecosystems. Distribution of biodiversity. Biodiversity and balance of Nature. Biological resources;
water, soil, wildlife, forests, fisheries, and rangelands. Conservation versus preservation versus
protection. Biodiversity assessment. Benefits of Biodiversity. Threats and impacts of biodiversity.
Conservation and management of biodiversity. Biotechnology in biodiversity. The institutional
framework on biodiversity conservation and management (Policy, legal & administration
arrangements). Conventions on biodiversity conservation and management.
1.1.4. Mode of Delivery
Lectures, practicals, open learning, distance learning, e-learning, class presentations, independent
studies, and field training sites.
1.1.5. Instructional Materials and/or Equipment
Study manuals, course books, reference books, journals, reports and case studies, computers, LCD
projectors, white and chalk boards, board markers, video clips and internet resources.
1.1.6. Course Assessment
Continuous assessment tests, assignments, reports, practical and written examinations.
2.26.7 Core Reading and Recommended Reference Materials
John M. Fryxell, Anthony R.E. Sinclair, & Graeme Caughley. 2014. Wildlife Ecology,
Conservation, and Management. Wiley Blackwell. 508pp
Krishnamurthy, K. V. 2003. Textbook of Biodiversity. Science Publishers
Page 2 of 58
Kumar, U., & Asija, M. J. 2007. Biodiversity: Principles and Conservation. Agrobios (India)
Norris K, Pain DJ. 2002. Conserving bird biodiversity: General principles and their applications,
Edition. Cambridge University Press. Pp 352.
Paul R. Krausman & James W. Cain. 2013. Wildlife Management and Conservation.
Contemporary principles and practices. JHU Press 360 pp.
Singh M. P. 2009. Biodiversity APH Publishing Corporation. New Delhi.
Western, D. et al. 2015. Kenya’s Natural Capital: A biodiversity Atlas. Ministry of Environment,
Natural Resources, and Regional Development, Authorities, Kenya. 124 pages.
1.1.7. Journals and E-Resources
1. Conservation Biology
2. Biodiversity Conservation
3. Biodiversity and Conservation
4. Biological Conservation Journal
5. International Journal of Biodiversity
6. Biodiversity Informatics.
7. Endangered Species Research.
Page 3 of 58
Biodiversity is the variety of different forms of life on earth, including the different plants,
animals, micro-organisms, the genes they contain and the ecosystem they form. It refers to
genetic variation, ecosystem variation, species variation (number of species) within an area,
biome or planet. Relative to the range of habitats, biotic communities and ecological processes
in the biosphere, biodiversity is vital in a number of ways including promoting the aesthetic
value of the natural environment, contribution to our material well-being through utilitarian
values by providing food, fodder, fuel, timber and medicine and .
Biodiversity is the life support system. Organisms depend on it for the air to breathe, the food to
eat, and the water to drink. Wetlands filter pollutants from water, trees and plants reduce global
warming by absorbing carbon, and bacteria and fungi break down organic material and
fertilize the soil. It has been empirically shown that native species richness is linked to the
health of ecosystems, as is the quality of life for humans. The ecosystem services of
biodiversity is maintained through formation and protection of soil, conservation and
purification of water, maintaining hydrological cycles, regulation of biochemical cycles,
absorption and breakdown of pollutants and waste materials through decomposition,
determination and regulation of the natural world climate.
Despite the benefits from biodiversity, today’s threats to species and ecosystems are increasing
day by day with alarming rate and virtually all of them are caused by human mismanagement
of biological resources often stimulated by imprudent economic policies, pollution and faulty
institutions in-addition to climate change. To ensure intra and intergenerational equity, it is
important to conserve biodiversity. Some of the existing measures of biodiversity
conservation include; reforestation, zoological gardens, botanical gardens, national parks,
biosphere reserves, germplasm banks and adoption of breeding techniques, tissue culture
techniques, social forestry to minimize stress on the exploitation of forest resources.
Page 4 of 58
DEFINITIONS OF BIODIVERSITY
As defined by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Biodiversity also known as
biological diversity is “the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter
alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they
are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems” [Convention
on Biological Diversity Article 2].
The totality of the inherited variation of all forms of life across all levels of variation, from
ecosystem to species to gene. Edward O. Wilson
Biodiversity Can Be Classified Under Three Levels (Types)
1. Species diversity
2. Genetic diversity
3. Ecosystem or ecological diversity.
Species diversity refers to biodiversity at the most basic level and is the ‘variety and abundance
of different types of individuals of a species in a given area. Species is a basic unit of
classification and is defined as a group of similar organisms that interbreed with one another and
produce viable offspring. These may include bacteria, viruses, fungi, plants (algae, bryophytes,
pteridophytes, gymnosperms, angiosperms) and animals (unicellular protozoans, arthropods,
mollusks, fish, herps and mammals). The tropical areas support more diverse plant and animal
communities than other areas. The regions that are rich in species diversity are called hotspots of
A biodiversity hotspot is a region containing an exceptional concentration of endemic species. These hot
spots support nearly 60% of the world’s plant, bird, mammal, reptile, and amphibian species.
Biodiversity hotspots in East Africa
Page 5 of 58
Genetic diversity refers to the variation within and between populations range in the heritable
genetic resources of the organisms. Every individual member of a plant or animal species differs
from other individuals in its genetic constitution. Genetic variation enables both natural
evolutionary change and artificial selective breeding to occur. The term ‘gene pool’ has been
used to indicate the genetic diversity in the different species. The genetic variability is essential
for healthy breeding population. The reduction in genetic variability among breeding
individuals leads to inbreeding which in turns can lead to extinction of species.
Ecosystem or ecological diversity
An ecosystem is a collection of living components, flora, fauna and microorganisms and non-
living components, like climate, matter and energy that are connected by energy flow. Ecosystem
diversity can be described for a specific geographical region, or a political entity such as a
country, county or region. Ecosystem diversity is often evaluated through measures of the
diversity of the component species. This may involve assessment of the relative abundance of
different species as well as consideration of the types of species.
Page 6 of 58
A population is all of the individuals of the same species within an ecological community.
African Elephant Hippopotamus Common Zebra
Oryx Rothschild's Giraffe
Eastern Bullfrog Nile crocodile
Great White Pelicans Blue Napped mouse birds
Page 7 of 58
Community: The assemblage of interacting populations (dynamics of species populations) that
inhabit the same area (how these populations interact with the environment).
Ecosystem: Comprised of one or more communities and the abiotic environment within an area.
Different groups of populations may not be located in the same area but interact at certain times
throughout the year. If this group of populations are the same species and can still interbreed, they
are a meta-population. Individuals within a metapopulation may migrate from one population to
the other, which can help stabilize the size of the overall population.
Page 8 of 58
KENYA’S BIOTIC DIVERSITY
About 50-100 million species of plants, animals and micro-organisms exists in the world. Out of
these, about 1.4 million species have been described.
Kenya is endowed with an enormous and immense animal biotic capital. Kenya is a mega bio-
diverse country and has one of the richest fauna diversity in the world, with around 30,000
species of animal species and 7,000 species of plants have so far been recorded, along with at
least 2000 fungi and bacteria presently listed. Kenya’s known fauna biodiversity assets include
25,000 invertebrates (21,575 of which are insects), 1,100 birds, 315 mammals (2/3 of these
are small mammals), 191 reptiles, 206 freshwater fish, 692 marine and brackish fish, and 110
amphibians. These resources form the basic source of livelihood for the country's population.
80% of the country's population directly or indirectly relies on biodiversity for survival. The
conservation and sustainable utilization of this biodiversity cannot be overemphasized.
KENYA NATURAL CAPITAL-A biodiversity Atlas_Nov2015
Page 9 of 58
Three primary attributes of biodiversity are composition, structure and function.
• Composition is the identity and variety of an ecological system. Descriptors of
composition are typically listing of the species resident in an area or an ecosystem and
measures of composition include species richness and diversity of species.
• Structure is the physical organization or pattern of a system, from habitat complexity
as measured within communities to the pattern of habitats (or patches) and other
elements at a landscape scale.
• Functions are the result of one or more ecological and evolutionary processes,
including predation, gene flow, natural disturbances as well as abiotic processes such
as soil development and hydrological cycles. Examples of functions include predator-
prey systems, water purifications and nutrient cycling.
Each of these attributes is multi-scalar and incorporates both spatial and temporal dynamics.
As a result, these attributes may also be examined at different scales including regions, landscapes
There are various mathematical ways of measuring biodiversity, which calculate the number of
species in different regions, landscapes and ecosystems. The measure of diversity of species is
also known as species richness.
Species Richness - is the number of species in a community. Clearly, the number of species we
can observe is function of the area of the sample. It also is a function of who is looking. Thus,
species richness is sensitive to sampling procedure.
• Species Diversity is the number of species in the community, and their relative
abundances. Species are not equally abundant; some species occur in large percentage of
samples; others are poorly represented. Some communities, such as tropical rainforests, are
much more diverse than others, such as the desert. Species Diversity is often expressed
using Shannon-Weiner Index or Simpson’s diversity index
H = ∑ - (Pi * ln Pi)
H = the Shannon diversity index
Pi = fraction of the entire population made up of species i
S = numbers of species encountered
Page 10 of 58
∑ = sum from species 1 to species S
Note: The power to which the base e (e = 2.718281828.......) must be raised to obtain a number is
called the natural logarithm (ln) of the number.
To calculate the index:
1. Divide the number of individuals of species you found in your sample by the total number
of individuals of all species. This is Pi
2. Multiply the fraction by its natural log (P1 * ln P1)
3. Repeat this for all of the different species that you have. The last species is species “s”
4. Sum all the - (Pi * ln Pi) products to get the value of H
Birds Ni Pi ln Pi - (Pi * ln Pi)
Speckled Pigeon 96 .96 -.041 .039
Robin chat 1 .01 -4.61 .046
Superb Starling 1 .01 -4.61 .046
Pied Crow 1 .01 -4.61 .046
House sparrow 1 .01 -4.61 .046
H = 0.223
High values of H would be representative of more diverse communities. A community with only
one species would have an H value of 0 because Pi would equal 1 and be multiplied by ln Pi which
would equal zero. If the species are evenly distributed then the H value would be high. So the H
value allows us to know not only the number of species but how the abundance of the species is
distributed among all the species in the community.
Simpson’s diversity index:
• D=1-S (pi)2
A community contains the following species:
Number of Individuals
Species Aardvark 104
Species Buffalo 71
Species Cheetah 19
Species Dik’dik 5
Species Elephant 3
What is the Simpson index value for this
Page 11 of 58
Calculate Shannon-Weiner diversity Index and Simpson’s diversity index.
Measuring Biodiversity has three perspectives;
Alpha (α) Diversity
It is the number of species or diversity in species within a particular area, community or
ecosystem. It is usually expressed by the number of species in that ecosystem. This can be
measured by counting the number of taxa within the ecosystem (e.g. Families, genera and
Beta (β) Diversity
This is the change in the composition of the species with reference to the changes in the
environment. Beta diversity is measured by comparing the species diversity between ecosystems
or along environmental gradients. This involves comparing the number of taxa that are unique to
each of the ecosystems. It is the rate of change in species composition across habitats or among
communities. It gives a quantitative measure of diversity of communities that experience
Gamma (γ) Diversity
Total Individuals= (104+19+71+5+3) =202
Page 12 of 58
This refers to the overall diversity. It refers to the total species richness over a large area. It is a
measure of the overall diversity for the different ecosystems within a region. It is a product of
alpha diversity of component ecosystems and the beta diversity between component ecosystems.
Gamma diversity can be expressed in terms of the species richness of component communities as
γ = s1 + s2 – c
s1 = the total number of species recorded in the first community
s2 = the total number of species recorded in the second community
c = the number of species common to both communities
Page 13 of 58
Different regions oftheplanet receivedifferent amounts ofsunlight energythroughout theyear.This impacts
thelengthofwarm,cold,wet,anddryseasonsinthesedifferent regions,as well asthetemperature,humidity,
and other environmental factors (which results in differences in predominant vegetation), that define the
region. Regions can be broadly divided into terrestrial biomes and aquatic ecosystems.
Figure #: Distribution of: a. terrestrial biomes; b. aquatic ecosystems.
The terrestrial biomes can be divided into four broad categories: forest, desert, savanna/grassland, and tundra
Figure #: Characteristics of terrestrial biomes based on temperature and precipitation
Page 14 of 58
Forest biomes are dominated by trees. Approximately one-third of Earth’s land area is covered by forests
that contain 70% of the carbon present in living things. Forest biomes can be divided into three distinct types
based primarily on the types of organisms that populate them and seasonal changes in temperature and/or
precipitation. These three types are tropical, temperate, and boreal.
Tropical forests support the highest biodiversity of all biomes. They occur near the equator where 1) day
lengths are long and vary little from 12 hours, 2) rainfall is higher than any other biome, and 3) temperatures
are high, averaging around20-25° C, with little seasonal variation.
Savanna & Grassland
Vegetation in both savanna and grassland biomes is dominated by perennial grasses and non-
woody forbs. Savannas obtain enough rainwater annually to support scattered trees, whereas
grasslands do not. Savannas are generally found in more tropical climates where seasonality is
characterized not by temperature changes but by precipitation patterns. Grasslands occur in cold
climates areas that have deep soil rich in organic matter. The abundant grasses of savannas and
grasslands support large herds of herbivores, like the wildebeest found on the African savanna
Deserts cover about one fifth of the Earth’s land surface and occur where rainfall is less than 50
cm a year. These are the driest landscapes on Earth and support the least amount of life.
Biodiversity is lowest in these biomes. Most deserts occur along latitudes of 30○
N and 30○
therefore have generally hot climates. These regions receive little precipitation due to atmospheric
circulation patterns. Drought is extending the desert in Northern Africa.
Water is the common link among the aquatic ecosystems and it makes up the largest portion of the
biosphere. Aquatic ecosystems support highly diverse groups of organisms and are classified into two broad
categories: freshwater and saltwater or marine.
Freshwater ecosystems arecharacterized by having a very low salt (NaCl) content (less than 0.5 parts salt per
1,000parts H20,ppt)andincludestreams/rivers, groundwater,lakes,ponds, reservoirs,and wetlands (suchas
fens,marshes,swamps,andbogs).Eachpresents uniqueconditions towhichdifferent kinds oforganisms are
adapted. Life in flowing water (called lotic systems), for example, requires different adaptations than life in
ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands (still water or lentic systems). Because climatic conditions vary across
different latitudes, the species diversity in freshwater aquatic ecosystems differs geographically. Like
terrestrial biomes, aquatic ecosystems inthe tropics support many more species thanthose inlatitudes further
from the equator. This is particularly true for fish and amphibians. Collectively, approximately 15,000 of the
earth’s species of fish,nearly 45% of all fish species, rely on either fresh or brackish water habitats.The other
55% are marine species.
Marine ecosystems contain salt that eroded from land and eventually washed into the oceans. The
average ocean salinity is 35 ppt worldwide. Marine ecosystems cover about three-fourths of the
Earth’s surface and include oceans, seas, coral reefs, and estuaries. Estuaries are wetlands at the
Page 15 of 58
oceans’ shore that contain a mix of freshwater from rivers and saltwater from the ocean to produce
brackish water, characterized by possessing a salinity between 0.5 ppt and 17 ppt. Marine
phytoplankton are critical to all life on Earth because they supply much of the world’s atmospheric
oxygen and take in a huge amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide for photosynthesis, acting as a
“sink” for the greenhouse gas CO2. There are six distinct marine eco-regions. All of these, like terrestrial
biomes, are characterized by specific flora and fauna.
Estuaries (Figure 17a) are formed at the mouths of freshwater streams or rivers flowing into the
ocean. Depending on the elevation gradient of the land and the ratio of water flow from river to
ocean versus intrusion from ocean to river, estuaries can range in salinity from 0.5 ppt to 17 ppt.
This mixing of waters with such different salt and nutrient concentrations creates a very rich and
unique ecosystem at the edge of two very different aquatic systems. The blending of two distinct
systems at their border is called ecotone and is often a zone of high biodiversity because it
harbors species from both systems. Estuaries have higher diversity and productivity than either
the river or stream alone. Microflora like algae, and macroflora, such as seaweeds, marsh
grasses, and mangrove trees (only in the tropics), can be found here. Estuaries support a diverse
fauna, including a variety of worms, oysters, crabs, and waterfowl, and are often important
nursery grounds for fish and important feeding stops for migratory birds.
2. Intertidal & Sub-Tidal Zones
Marine ecosystems along the coasts of land masses, but not influenced by infusion of freshwater
like estuaries, include the intertidal and sub-tidal zones. Intertidal ecosystems are alternately
exposed to the air and submerged as ocean tides wax and wane. Most species that live in this
ecosystem are tolerant to and often thrive on periodic exposure to air (Figure 17b), like mussels,
crabs, starfish, sea anemones, and seaweeds. Tide pools, small shoreline depressions that retain
permanent water, can even support a diversity of fish.
Sub-tidal zones occur further offshore and are permanently submerged but still strongly influenced by tidal
surges. Dense kelp forests (Figure 17c) or sea-grass beds can grow in these areas, serving as habitat for
multitudes of fish, shrimp, and other marine organisms.
3. Coral Reefs, Sea Grass Beds, & Mangroves
Coral reefs are truly awe-inspiring natural formations. In the upcoming Biodiversity and
Spirituality section you will explore more about this experience of awe in nature.
in warm shallow ocean waters. They can be found as barriers along continents, fringing islands, and atolls.
Naturally, the dominant organisms in coral reefs are corals. Corals are interesting since they consist of
a symbiosis between algae (zooxanthellae) and animal polyps housed with a calcareous, shell-like structure
(Figure18).Sincecoral reefwaters tendtobenutritionallypoor, theanimalcoral polyps obtaintheirnutrients
through the algae via photosynthesis (where glucose is produced) and also by extending tentacles to obtain
diversity of small and very colorful fish species, most of which live only on coral reefs.
value to tropical countries, but at the same time are very sensitive to environmental changes, both natural
Page 16 of 58
Coral reefs,forexample,act as barriers,protectingseagrasses andmangroves from oceanicswell andstorms
but are vulnerable to harm by tourists diving and collecting coral and by the aquarium industry that collects
millions of colorful fish to sell on the market.
4. Pelagic Zone
The Pelagic Zone comprises all far off-shore 'open water' habitat extending from the ocean
surface to the depth limits of light penetration. This zone supports the massive schools
of planktivorous forage fish like anchovies, smelt, and sardines, which serve as the primary diet
of salmon, swordfish, tuna, and many other larger fish (Figure 17e). Stocks of many of the large
predatory fish are declining due to over fishing of both the forage fish and larger predatory fish
themselves. Forage fish are subject to overfishing (Figure 21) in areas where they are used to
produce feed for farmed fish or commercial production of pet food.
5. Abyssal Zone
The abyssal zone is the deepest region of oceans that lies below the pelagic zone, its upper limit
at the depth where sunlight can no longer penetrate (Figure 28). Because these deep waters are in
constant darkness, no photosynthetic organisms live there, yet a diversity of unique life still
thrives comprising an unusually complex food web with bacteria, rather than microalgae, serving
as the food web base.
In the complete darkness of the abyssal zone, predators, like the angler fish have developed evolutionary
adaptations to allow them to capture prey. The angler fish uses a fluorescent lure extending off its head to
attract prey (Figure 23).
The'baseofthefoodchain'orfoodthat supports abyssalzonelifecomes from thebacteriathat feeds onfeces
and the bodies of dead organisms raining down from the pelagic zone. In addition to these decomposer
creatingnewcrust andpushingcrustal plates apart,warm andnutrient richwateremerges from hydrothermal
vents (Figure 22).
Distribution of Kenya’s Biodiversity
Afro-alpine moorland (1.2% of the total land area) occurs above c. 3,000 m, on Mt Kenya, the
Aberdare Mountains, the Cheranganis and Mt Elgon. There is little vegetation at the upper levels
(above c. 3,800 m), with species of giant Lobelia and Senecio. Below this is grassland and Erica
shrubland, often with stands of Hagenia woodland in sheltered spots. Rather few birds live in this
high, cold environment. The Scarlet-tufted Malachite Sunbird inhabits the Lobelia zone, while
species such as Alpine Chat and Aberdare Cisticola are found in the grassland and shrubland.
Mountain Buzzards often patrol overhead.
Highland open grassland (just 0.05%) occurs above c. 2,400 m on either side of the central Rift
Valley. Other important grassland types include fire-induced grassland (3.1%, e.g. parts of the
Masai Mara) and seasonal floodplain and delta grassland (4.7%, e.g. the Tana River Delta).
Grassland also occurs on alkaline volcanic ash (0.2%), for example near Mbirikani to the south
of the Chyulu Hills. Grasses include species of Hyparrhenia, Digitaria and Themeda, etc
Page 17 of 58
Digitaria sanguinalis Hyparrhenia hirta Themeda triandra
Highland moist forests (2.0%) occur between c. 1,500 m and 3,000 m in areas that receive
rainfall of more than 1,200 mm per year. A mosaic of forest and bamboo Arundinaria alpina is
often present at the higher levels. Typical montane forest trees include species of Podocarpus,
Olea, Juniperus and Newtonia, but the forest type varies greatly according to altitude and
Bamboo Arundinaria alpina Podocarpus henkelii Olea africana /
Relicts of Guineo-Congolian rainforest (0.1%) occur in western Kenya, in and around
Kakamega Forest. Kakamega is the easternmost outlier of the great tract of tropical rain
forest that once extended across equatorial Africa. The North and South Nandi Forests are
transitional between the Guineo-Congolian and montane forest types.
Several types of coastal forests and woodland (0.1%) occur along the narrow coastal strip. Most
of these patches are small, and the kind of vegetation varies greatly according to soil type and
Highland dry forests (0.4%) occur on hilltops that attract mist and rain (cloudy forests) (e.g.
Mt Marsabit, Mt Kulal and the Taita and Chyulu Hills). Riverine forests (e.g. along the Mara
River) and groundwater forests (e.g. Kitovu) together make up c. 1.5% of the land area.
Thorn bushland and woodland are the most extensive vegetation types in Kenya (41.7%),
running from Amboseli in the south through the Tsavo parks to north-east and north-west Kenya.
Characteristic tree species are Acacia, Commiphora and Combretum spp., while grasses include
Page 18 of 58
species of Hyparrhenia, Digitaria and Themeda. It is often favourable for ranching and pastoral
land. This vegetation grades into semi-arid wooded and bushed grassland (0.2%).
The north-central and north-western parts of the country are covered by semi-desert (16.8%). In
places, such as the Dida Galgalu and Chalbi Deserts and around Lake Turkana areas of barren
land (0.4%) occur, with very little vegetation.
Acacia senegal Commiphora myrrha Combretum collinum
Wetlands and open water
Wetlands are an important habitat in Kenya, covering about 14,000 km2 of the country’s land
surface (Crafter et al. 1992). The chain of lakes in the Rift Valley, from Turkana in the north to
Magadi and Natron in the south, provide varied habitats for huge numbers of waterbirds. Most of
the lakes are alkaline and support few large plants. Dense concentrations of microscopic plants.
Bodies of freshwater cover 2.1% of Kenya’s surface area, including Lake Victoria, Lake
Naivasha and a series of large dams along the upper Tana River.
Papyrus swamps are found patchily around the shores of Lake Victoria, mainly along river
inflows. Elsewhere this habitat is widely scattered, with notable patches at Lake Naivasha and
Lake Jipe. Permanent swamps make up 0.11% of the land area
Mangrove swamps (0.2%) occur along parts of the Kenyan shoreline, especially in sheltered
creeks and estuaries. Lamu District has the country’s most extensive mangrove swamps.
Coral reefs and islands make up some 59,000 ha, or 0.1% of the land area.
Papyrus swamps Mangrove swamps Coral reefs
Human-modified habitats, created at the expense of the natural vegetation, occur over a large
area throughout the country but especially in the highlands. These include cultivated land under a
wide variety of crops (18%), plantations of exotic trees, secondary thicket and scrub, eroded and
Page 19 of 58
de-vegetated woodland and bushland, and overgrazed pastureland. Quite a few bird species
survive here, but only those that are especially adaptable.
Each habitat has its own distinctive biodiversity.
In general, climate is the major factor determining natural vegetation. Three-quarters of Kenya is
arid or semi-arid, and the natural climax vegetation here is bushland, wooded grassland, semi-
desert scrub or desert.
Woodland occurs as the natural vegetation cover in areas with slightly more rainfall, with bushland
in the transition zone between semi-humid and semi-arid zones. Closed canopy forest is restricted
to the 12% of the country classified as semi-humid to humid. Most of this area is within the central
highlands and Nyanza plateau, and here forest usually occurs only below about 3,000 m. Above
this is moorland and alpine vegetation. Forests also occur as ‘islands’ on top of isolated hills and
mountains, along rivers, and in the narrow coastal belt where the rainfall is over 1,000 mm.
East Africa, and especially Kenya, is at the meeting point of a number of biogeographic zones or
biomes, each of which has a set of distinctive wildlife. Kenya includes portions of no fewer than
six biomes. The most significant are the Somali-Masai biome, the East African Coast biome, the
large Afrotropical Highlands biome and the small Lake Victoria Basin biome. The easternmost
outliers of the Guinea-Congo Forests biome also occur in Kenya, along with a small portion of the
Sudan and Guinea Savannah biome.
Map showing the six avian biomes in Kenya and examples of representative bird species for
each (shapefile source: http://www.wri.org/publication/content/9291).
Page 20 of 58
Endemic Biodiversity Areas in Kenya
Areas where large numbers of endemic species are found are of special conservation importance.
They are likely to be significant for the origin and/or maintenance of species diversity. BirdLife
International recently analyzed the distribution of the world’s birds, focusing on species whose
global ranges are less than 50,000 km
Several Endemic Biodiversity Areas and Secondary Areas (with just one endemic wildlife) occur
in Kenya. The two most important are the Kenya Mountains EBA and the East African Coastal
Forests EBA. Kenya also includes smaller portions of three other EBAs: the Tanzania-Malawi
Mountains, the Serengeti Plains, and the Jubba and Shabeelle Valleys; this EBA barely touches
Kenya in the extreme north-east of the country). The Taita Hills are geologically the northernmost
representatives of the Eastern Arc mountains of Tanzania and Malawi, but have no restricted-range
bird species in common with the rest of the EBA.
Secondary areas include the Kakamega and Nandi Forests, the North Kenyan Short-grass
Plains and Mt Kulal.
Map of the Endemic (EBA) and secondary bird areas (SA) found in Kenya and the key
species found in each (shapefile source: http://www.wri.org/publication/content/9291)
CONSERVATION VERSUS PRESERVATION VERSUS PROTECTION
We should now examine the differences between preservation, conservation, and management
because many people mistakenly confuse the three.
CONSERVATION is an effort to maintain and use natural resources wisely in an attempt to
ensure that those resources will be available for future generations. Conservation is therefore
Page 21 of 58
sustainable use and management of both renewable and non-renewable natural resources
including wildlife, water, air, and earth deposits. Conservationists typically support measures that
reduce human use of natural resources, but only when such measures will be beneficial to
PRESERVATION attempts to make sure that natural systems are left alone without human
disturbance or manipulation. Preservationists (people who believe in preservation) feel natural
resources should be protected, unspoiled, and untouched by humans. The goal of preservation is
often maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem as exemplified by nature preserves or wilderness
areas. This is due to the concern that mankind is encroaching onto the environment at such a rate
that many untamed landscapes are being given over to farming, industry, housing, tourism and
other human developments, and that we are losing too much of what is 'natural'.
MANAGEMENT is also a component of conservation that usually means controlling,
directing, or manipulating wildlife populations and/or their habitats (active management
Page 22 of 58
BALANCE IN NATURE
The balance of nature is a concept in Ecology or a theory that proposes that natural ecological
systems are usually in a stable state of equilibrium or homeostasis in most ecosystems of
nature. When disturbed, an ecosystem tries to return to a state of balance. In other words, plants
and animals interact so as to produce a stable, continuing system of life on earth (modern ecology
does not fully accept this idea). Balance of nature is maintained by competition, adaption and other
interactions between the members of a community and their nonliving environment. The activities
of human beings can disrupt the balance of nature and affect biodiversity.
In general, the interactions and processes in the ecosystem attempt to maintain a balance. Some
• Food chains and food webs ensure that populations are under control.
• Waste products produced by one species are used by another.
• Resources used by some are replenished by others.
• Plants produce the oxygen needed by animals, while the waste product of animal
respiration, carbon dioxide, is used by plants in photosynthesis.
• The water cycle keeps the world's water circulating providing water where and when it is
Page 23 of 58
VALUE OF BIODIVERSITY
Biodiversity is the most precious gift of nature the mankind is blessed with. Values related to
biodiversity can be grouped into categories as below:
This is related to natural products that are used directly for food, fodder, timber, fuel wood, etc.
Many people around the world still depend on wild species for most of their needs like food,
shelter, clothing and fuel.
Productive Use Value
This is assigned to the products that are commercially harvested for exchange in formal markets.
These include fuel, timber, fish, fodder, skin, fruits, cereals and medicines among others.
Biodiversity represents the original stock from which new varieties are being developed. Most of
the drugs and medicines used in the present times are extracted from different plant parts.
Indirect use of biodiversity is of much significance because this value is related primarily with
functions of ecosystem. They may provide indirect benefits as non-consumptive values.
Maintenance of ecological balance, conservation of natural resources and prevention of soil
erosion may be considered as the examples of indirect use of biodiversity.
The diverse group of organisms found in a particular environment together with the physical and
biological factors that affect them, constitute an ecosystem. Healthy ecosystems are vital to life.
The natural environment is responsible for the production of oxygen, maintenance of water-cycle
and other biogeochemical cycles. The more a region is rich in terms of biodiversity, the better are
the different cycles regulated.
Ecosystem services are defined as the processes and conditions of natural systems that support
Page 24 of 58
1) Biodiversity plays a major role in mitigating climate change by contributing to long-term
sequestration of carbon in a number of biomes. It is through biodiversity that sequential
balance of CO2 and O2 is maintained. Due to the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere
and ozone layer depletion, the earth is becoming warmer and more prone to natural
2) Regulation of biochemical cycles e.g. Oxygen, Nitrogen, hydrological cycles etc.
Biological resources are important media in biochemical cycles, without which the cycles
are not complete.
3) Absorption and breakdown of pollutants and waste materials through decomposition, e.g.
in food webs and food chains where the flow of energy goes through production
consumption and decomposition without which breakdown and absorption of materials
will not be complete.
4) Determination and regulation of the natural world climate whether local, regional or micro
level through influencing temperature, precipitation and air turbulence.
5) Biodiversity underpins ecosystem resilience and plays a critical role as part of disaster risk
reduction and peace-building strategies. Forests, wetlands and mangroves play a critical
role in reducing the impacts of extreme events such as droughts, floods and tsunamis.
6) Protective services of biodiversity provide protection of human beings from harmful
weather conditions by acting as wind breaks, flood barriers among others.
7) Production of at least one third of the world’s food, including 87 of the 113 leading food
crops, depends directly or indirectly on pollination carried out by insects (honey bee), bats
The life of the indigenous people in many parts of the world still revolves around the forests and
environment, even in the modem times. Many of them still live in the forests and meet their daily
requirements from their surroundings. The biodiversity in different parts of the world has been
largely preserved by the traditional societies.
Ethical and Moral Values
Morality and ethics teach us to preserve all forms of life and not to harm any organism
unnecessarily. Each species has its own utility in the world of biodiversity and has every right to
The beauty of our planet is because of biodiversity, which otherwise would have resembled other
barren planets dotted around the universe. Biological diversity adds to the quality of life and
provides some of the most beautiful aspects of our existence. Biodiversity is responsible for the
beauty of a landscape.
Eco-tourism has now become the major source of foreign currency income.
Page 25 of 58
This refers to the value of biodiversity that is yet unknown, but needs to be explored for future
possibilities and use. We should preserve all the world’s biodiversity that can be used by the
Page 26 of 58
Biodiversity is measured as an attribute that has two components — richness and relative
abundance. evenness. Richness is the number of groups of genetically or functionally related
individuals. In most surveys, richness is expressed as the number of species and is usually called
species richness. Relative abundance is the number of organisms each species has.
When scientists assess an area’s biodiversity, they look at species richness (how many different
species there are)
Rapid biodiversity assessment
This is sometimes called rapid ecological assessments (REAS). It is an important technique for
terrestrial, freshwater, marine, and estuarine system management, especially in areas where there
is very little published or unpublished information. Rapid assessments of biodiversity require the
development of a conceptual framework for the design and implementation of the assessment,
and a clear definition of the scope of the assessment.
The five general types of assessment that have been identified by the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) include:
1) Baseline inventory – focuses on overall biological diversity rather than extensive or
detailed information about specific taxa or habitats.
2) Species-specific assessment – provides a rapid appraisal of the status of a particular species
or taxonomic group in a given area.
3) Change assessment – is undertaken to determine the effects of human activities or natural
disturbances on the ecological integrity and associated biodiversity of an area.
4) Indicator assessment – assumes that biological diversity, in terms of species and
community diversity can inform us about water quality and overall health of particular
5) Resource assessment – aims to determine the potential for sustainable use of biological
resources in a given area.
Compilation of existing data
Before determining whether field-based assessment is required, an important first step is to
compile and assess as much relevant existing data and information as readily available. This part
of the assessment should establish what data and information exists, and whether it is accessible.
Data sources can include geographic information systems (GIs) and remote sensing information
sources, published and unpublished data, and traditional knowledge and information accessed
through the contribution, as appropriate, of local people. Such compilation should be used as a
“gap analysis” to determine whether the purpose of the assessment can be satisfied from existing
information or whether a new field survey is required.
Page 27 of 58
The Biodiversity Assessment Method
The Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) is the assessment manual that outlines how an
accredited person assesses impacts on biodiversity at development sites. It is a scientific
document that provides:
• a consistent method for the assessment of biodiversity on a proposed development or major
project, or clearing site,
• guidance on how a proponent can avoid and minimize potential biodiversity impacts, and
• the number and class of biodiversity credits that need to be offset to achieve a standard of
‘no net loss’ of biodiversity.
The BAM measures two types of credits on both development sites and stewardship sites.
• Ecosystem credits, which measure the offset requirement for impacts on threatened
ecological communities, threatened species habitat for species that can be reliably
predicted to occur with a plant community type, and other plant community types
• Species credits, which measure the offset requirement for impacts on threatened species
individuals or area of habitat.
The Pressure-State-Response Indicator Framework
PRESSURE: Habitat change, habitat destruction and fragmentation, habitat degradation,
detrimental practices and intensity, Landscape homogenization, Pollution, Pesticides and other
products, Climate change, Invasive species, Overexploitation of wild populations, Disease
BENEFIT: Extensive use, habitat creation and maintenance, habitat restoration, Landscape
connectivity, Nutrient cycling, sequestration, Food web maintenance.
Page 28 of 58
THREATS AND IMPACTS OF BIODIVERSITY
At present, loss of specific species, groups of species (extinction) or decrease in number of
particular organisms (endangerment) are taking place in different parts of the world at a rapid
pace. The main threats are human population growth and resource consumption, human
activities, climate change and global warming, loss of habitat, habitat conversion and
urbanization, invasive alien species, over-exploitation of natural resources, environmental
degradation, chemical toxins & pollution, diseases, introduced predators, etc.
Page 29 of 58
Endangered and threatened birds in Kenya
Table #: List of threatened bird species in Kenya (IUCN 2016)
Common Name Species Category
1 Sokoke Scops-owl Otus ireneae EN
2 Black Crowned-crane Balearica pavonina VU
3 Lappet-faced Vulture Torgos tracheliotos VU
4 White-headed Vulture Trigonoceps occipitalis VU
5 Greater Spotted Eagle Aquila clanga VU
6 Eastern Imperial Eagle Aquila heliaca VU
7 Madagascar Pond-heron Ardeola idae EN
8 Spotted Ground-thrush Zoothera guttata EN
9 Taita Thrush Turdus helleri CR
10 Chapin's Flycatcher Muscicapa lendu VU
11 Abbott's Starling Cinnyricinclus femoralis VU
12 Blue Swallow Hirundo atrocaerulea VU
13 Aberdare Cisticola Cisticola aberdare EN
14 Taita Apalis Apalis fuscigularis CR
15 White-winged Apalis Apalis chariessa VU
16 Basra Reed-warbler Acrocephalus griseldis EN
17 Papyrus Yellow Warbler Chloropeta gracilirostris VU
18 Turner's Eremomela Eremomela turneri EN
19 Hinde's Pied-babbler Turdoides hindei VU
20 Amani Sunbird Anthreptes pallidigaster EN
21 Sharpe's Longclaw Macronyx sharpei EN
22 Sokoke Pipit Anthus sokokensis EN
23 Clarke's Weaver Ploceus golandi EN
24 Egyptian Vulture Neophron percnopterus EN
25 Hooded Vulture Necrosyrtes monachus EN
Page 30 of 58
26 White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus EN
27 Rueppell's Vulture Gyps rueppellii EN
28 Secretarybird Sagittarius serpentarius VU
29 Grey Crowned-crane Balearica regulorum EN
30 Madagascar Pratincole Glareola ocularis VU
31 Southern Ground-hornbill Bucorvus leadbeateri VU
32 Saker Falcon Falco cherrug EN
33 Karamoja Apalis Apalis karamojae VU
34 Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus VU
Endangered and threatened mammals
Aders' duiker (Cephalophus adersi); Black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis); Hirola (Beatragus
hunteri); Eastern red colobus (Procolobus rufomitratus); Tana crested mangabey (Cercocebus
galeritus); Roan antelope (Hippotragus equinus); Sable antelope (Hippotragus niger); White rhino
(Ceratotherium simum simum); Coalfish whale (Balaenoptera borealis); Blue whale (Balaenoptera
musculus); Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi); African wild dog (Lycaon pictus); Giant thicket rat
(Grammomys gigas); Barbour's vlei rat (Otomys barbouri); Mount Elgon vlei rat (Otomys
jacksoni); Golden-rumped elephant shrew (Rhynchocyon chrysopygus); Eastern bongo
(Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci); African elephant (Loxodonta Africana); African lion (Panthera
leo); Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus); Striped hyaena (Hyaena Hyaena); Sitatunga (Tragelaphus
spekii); Leopard (Panthera pardus); Lelwel hartebeest (Alcelaphus buselaphus); Rothschild’s
giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi).
Endangered and threatened reptiles and amphibians
Hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) (Critically endangered); Shimba Hills Reed Frog
Hyperolius rubrovermicualtus: (Endangered); Forest Spiny Reed Frog Afrixalus sylvaticus:
Endangered; Arthroleptides dutoiti: CR; Sagalla caecilian Boulengerula niedeni: (Critically
endangered); Irangi Forest Puddle frog Phrynobatrachus irangi: (Endangered), Du toit's torrent
frog (Petropedetes dutoiti); Green turtle (Chelonia mydas); Olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea);
Rock python (Python sebae); Shimba hills banana frog (Afrixalus sylvaticus); Forest frog
(Afrixalus sylvaticus); Treefrog (Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus); Mount Kenya frog
(Phrynobatrachus irangi); Crevice tortoise (Malacochersus tornieri); Turkana mud turtle (Pelusios
broadleyi); Montane toad (Bufo kerinyagae); Montane tree frog (Hyperolius cystocandicans); Mt.
Kenya bush viper (Atheris desaixi); Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii); Black turtle (Chelonia
agassizi); Loggerhead (Caretta caretta); Leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea); Yellow-bellied
hinged terrapin (Pelusios castanoides); Tropical geckos (Hemidactylus modestus); Baobab
Page 31 of 58
gecko (Hemidactylus platycephalus); Writhing skink (Lygosoma tanae); Keel-bellied
lizard (Gastropholis prasina); Girdled-lizard (Cordylus tropidosternum); Worm
snakes (Leptotyphlops boulengeri); Günther’s centipede-eater (Aparallactus turneri); East
African egg eating snakes (Dasypeltis medici); Large brown spitting cobra (Naja ashei); Black
necked spotters (Naja nigricollis); Savannah monitor lizard (Varanus albigularis); Speckled bush
snake (Philothamnus punctatus); Puff adder (Bitis arietans); Green mamba (Dendroaspis
angusticeps); Nairobi toad (Bufo nairobiensis); Silvery tree frog (Leptopelis argenteus); Taita
toad (Bufo taitanus); Yellow-spotted tree frog (Leptopelis flavomaculatus); Turkana toad (Bufo
turkanae); Delicate spiny reed frog (Afrixalus delicatus); Painted reed frog (Hyperolius
marmoratus); Long reed frog (Hyperolius nasutus); Spotted reed frog (Hyperolius puncticulatus);
Water lily reed frog (Hyperolius pusillus); Kenya sand boar (Eryx colubrinus); Side-striped
chameleon (Chamaeleo bitaeniatus); Flap-neck chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis); Elliot's
chameleon (Chamaeleo ellioti); High casqued chameleon (Chamaeleo Hohnelii); Jackson's
chameleon (three-horned chameleon) (Chamaeleo jacksoni); Mount Kenya
chameleon (Chamaeleo schubotzi); Gaboon viper (Bitis gabonica gabonica).
Page 32 of 58
CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF BIODIVERSITY
Conservation is the protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and
natural resources such as forests, water and the biological diversity within it.
The conservation ethic promotes the management of natural resources for the purpose of sustaining
biodiversity in species, ecosystems, evolutionary process, human culture and society (Soule,
1985). However, conservation biology reformed around strategic plans with time to protect
regional biodiversity with specific issues in the later time (Margules & Pressey, 2000). At the same
time, priority has given to the strategic conservation plans to uses public policy in local, regional
and global scales of communities, ecosystems, and cultures (Gascon et al., 2007). Action plans
identified the ways of sustaining human well-being, employing natural capital, market capital, and
ecosystem services for the survival of mankind as in recent years, while increasing loss of
biodiversity has posed a serious threat to the survival of human being (Corlett & Primack, 2008).
Ex-situ conservation refers to the conservation of elements of biodiversity out of the context of
their natural habitats. This involves conservation of genetic resources, as well as wild and
cultivated/ domesticated plant/animal species, and draws on a diverse body of techniques and
facilities. Some of these include:
• Gene banks, e.g. seed banks, sperm and ova banks, field banks;
• In vitro plant tissue and microbial culture collections;
• Captive breeding of animals and artificial propagation of plants, with possible
reintroduction into the wild; and
• Collecting living organisms for zoos, aquaria, and botanic gardens for research and
Ex-situ conservation measures can be complementary to in-situ methods as they provide an
"insurance policy" against natural calamities and extinction. These measures also have a valuable
role to play in recovery programmes for endangered species. Ex-situ conservation provides
excellent research opportunities on the components of biological diversity. Some of these
institutions also play a central role in public education and awareness raising by bringing members
of the public into contact with plants and animals they may not normally come in contact with. It
is estimated that worldwide, over 600 million people visit zoos every year (Glowka, Burhenne-
Guilmin, & Synge, 1994).
Issues to consider when implementing Ex situ Conservation
What is the primary role for the ex situ population (e.g. captive breeding for reintroduction,
head-starting, research etc.)? How many founder animals are required, where will they come
from, and what are the plans if sufficient founder animals cannot be found? What is the current
captive population, and the target population? How many organizations will be involved with
the captive component? How will the genetics of the captive population be managed?
Page 33 of 58
Capacity building for ex situ management
Are there enough skilled people in the country to manage captive amphibian conservation
programs and which organizations are they based at? If not, how will enough people be trained
to manage the ex situ programs?
Ex situ research
Is ex situ research required, either directly related to understanding or improving husbandry
protocols, or for other reasons (e.g. disease testing or management). If so, outline the research
and who will be responsible for undertaking it.
Is supplementation or translocation being considered for this species? If so, provide details of
the planned actions and who is responsible for managing the actions.
When threats facing the species in the wild have been mitigated, and/or suitable protected
habitat is available for animals to be reintroduced to the wild, how will this be managed?
Include information about pre-release health and disease checks, individual identification
system of animals, who will undertake the releases, how the short and long-term post-release
monitoring will be carried out.
Education and awareness
Public education and raising awareness
Are there any plans to help provide education to local communities, or to the general
population about the threats facing amphibians and what actions people might be able to take
to help reduce threats and protect amphibians? Public education could be provided via display
panels in national parks and forests; in museums, libraries, zoos and aquariums; or by more
traditional teaching programs in schools and local communities.
Community and stakeholder engagement
Have local communities, national and local governments, field researchers, the ex situ
conservation community, private landholders and other stakeholders been involved with the
development of the plan? What actions have been developed to ensure that they remain
involved, and play their part in achieving the outcomes of the plan?
In-situ refers to the conservation of habitats, species and ecosystems where they naturally occur,
in which elements of biodiversity as well as the natural processes and interactions are conserved.
In-situ is considered the most appropriate way of conserving biodiversity. Conserving the areas
where populations of species exist naturally is an underlying condition for the conservation of
biodiversity. That is why protected areas form a central element of any national strategy to
conserve biodiversity. Approximately 8,500 protected areas exist throughout the world in 169
countries. This covers about 750 million hectares of marine and terrestrial ecosystems,
which amounts to 5.2 % of the Earth’s land surface, (Grant et al., 1998).
Page 34 of 58
Map of Kenya showing National Parks and Reserves
Conservation Action for Kenya’s Biodiversity
Wildlife Population Management Solutions
a. DNA fingerprinting
b. Population viability analysis and metapopulations
d. Legal protection
e. Captive breeding
Wildlife Habitat Management Solutions
a. Preserve design
b. Habitat management
c. Ecosystem management
d. Adaptive management
Because of all the problems that face populations when their habitat shrinks and is fragmented into
isolated islands, few species can persist if their habitat is reduced to a single island, especially if
that island is small. The key to conserving rare species and vanishing ecological communities is
to secure habitat preserve networks that are designed to accomplish long-term protection. We
now understand a great deal about how to design these networks so as to minimize the risks rare
species face. Single-population modelling help us project the minimum size required to reduce
local extinctions to acceptably low levels, and meta-population modelling can help estimate the
Page 35 of 58
extinction probabilities for alternative network configurations. These modelling exercises have
resulted in a series of “rules” guiding the design of preserves and preserve networks. The most
important of these rules are:
1. Bigger is usually better, because larger preserves contain larger total population sizes,
reducing vulnerability to stochastic variation.
2. Round or square is better than long and skinny, because round preserves have the
least amount of edge per area.
3. Create multiple preserves whenever possible, as this minimizes the chance that a
catastrophe will wipe out an entire population.
4. Ensure at least one large preserve in the network, as this provides a reliable source
of dispersers to recolonize smaller patches following local extinctions.
5. Minimize distances among preserves, to facilitate local movements between patches
and reduce genetic isolation among them.
6. Add steppingstones and corridors between preserves, as these small pieces of
habitat greatly facilitate movement among preserves, thereby allowing a fragmented
preserve system to act more as if it were larger and more continuous.
7. A two-dimensional landscape configuration is better than linear, because it
promotes opportunities for recolonization among all habitat patches.
Protecting a series of habitat preserves by properly managing “islands” of habitat has
become the single most important means for protecting the rarest endangered biodiversity.
On continental islands, each habitat patch retains some opportunity for recolonization as long as
we can ensure that multiple sources of colonists continue to exist in separate patches.
Most species that are endangered today were vulnerable early on, because they have narrowly
specialized habitat tolerances. Our principal means for maintaining such species is to protect
many separate populations by preserving patches of their required habitat. However, simply
setting a habitat patch aside rarely suffices to ensure its long-term preservation. Left unattended,
most habitats remain subject to continuing influences from humans, either directly (such as
continued introduction of predators) or indirectly (for instance, artificially altered hydro periods).
Therefore, most natural preserves require habitat management to remain suitable for the
species and ecological systems they are designed to protect.
Mimicking natural disturbances can be the most important and difficult responsibility in
modern habitat management. For example, many grasslands support higher species diversity
when they are subject to periodic disturbances that mimic the temporary passage of a wild
ungulate herd. Thus, in the absence of wild ungulates carefully managed “short-rotation” grazing
by cattle can improve grasslands as bird habitat. On the other hand, cattle tend to loaf and forage
near streams, causing erosion of stream banks and degradation of the riparian thickets that are so
important for breeding bird communities. Proper management of cattle grazing, therefore, requires
construction and maintenance of fencing to permit control of stocking rates and exposure
periods within each management unit, and to limit the access of cattle to riparian habitats.
Page 36 of 58
Species diversity in many habitats around the world (such as native grasslands, savannas, scrubs,
and numerous types of forests) is maintained by periodic wildfire. Many of the “post-fire
specialists” may be more endangered today by fire suppression than by outright habitat loss, in
these cases, proper habitat management requires prescribed burning to maintain the ecological
conditions under which the species evolved.
Ecosystem management means understanding and maintenance of the whole range of
Over the past half century, ecologists have begun to appreciate the complexity of relationships
among species and communities across large landscapes. Because these relationships occur at
many scales, protection of a single target species (for example, a declining bird) actually
requires protecting a host of ecological processes such as fire, periodic flooding, nutrient
cycling, plant succession, and seasonal migrations. Such processes may occur unpredictably
(for example, damaging storms), or in cycles that may be daily (such as the activity patterns of
insectivorous birds and their prey); annual (for instance, seasonal flooding of vernal pools);
regular multi-year (predator-prey cycles, for example); or irregular multi-year (such as floods
or fires). Thus, the most important management objective for preserving native species becomes
ensuring that these processes continue to exist as they did prior to human impact.
Many of our biggest challenges in conserving birds and mammals and their habitats occur because
we almost always make management decisions without knowing everything we’d like to know
about a system. Therefore, effective ecosystem management requires that before we begin we
define our target and recognize the gaps in our knowledge. We then proceed using a three-step
(1) Set goals in terms of desired out comes of management actions (for example, strive to
sustain a certain population size or density of a target bird species, or a specified range of
abundance values for different species in a habitat);
(2) keep learning new details about how the ecosystem works, through experimentation
and monitoring, so that we know how our target species respond to different management
(3) modify our management plans so that they better accomplish the goals. As time goes
on, therefore, we adapt management techniques to incorporate our new understanding
about the system.
Beginning in the I980s this concept was formalized into a new approach to hands-on habitat
management called adaptive management.
Page 37 of 58
The approach stresses the importance of learning as we go by incorporating landscape-scale
experiments (such as different burn regimes, grazing frequencies) accompanied by question-
driven monitoring of key species and processes (e.g. bird censuses or measurements of nest
success in different habitats). Adaptive management also calls for being ready, willing, and able
to modify management techniques as we learn new information. Adaptive management
represents an important opportunity for public agencies to partner with private conservation
groups and research institutions to accomplish the most effective long-term management of
Adaptive approaches to conservation management, a general approach to conservation
planning that is valuable in multiple situations
PRIORITY ECOSYSTEMS AND SPECIES
An enormous species of birds, Herps and mammals inhabit the country’s varied habitats, from its
crowded and colorful coral reefs to icy alpine moorlands. Kenya’s rich biodiversity can be
attributed to a number of factors, including a long evolutionary history, the country’s varied and
diverse habitat types and ecosystems, diversity of landscapes, variable climatic conditions, and
the convergence of at least seven biomes. These unique and biodiversity-rich regions include (1)
East African Coast biome including the Indian Ocean Islands of Lamu and Kisite, the coastal
forests of Arabuko-Sokoke and the lower Tana River; (2) the Afro-montane forests of Mount
Kenya, Aberdare and Mount Elgon; (3) Kakamega’seasternmost outliers of the Guineo-Congolian
equatorial forest; and the (4) Somali-Masai biome including the Northern dry lands that form part
of the distinct Horn of Africa biodiversity region; (5) the large Afrotropical grassland Highlands
Page 38 of 58
biome; (6) the small Lake Victoria Basin biome and the (7) Sudan and Guinea Savannah biome.
These ecosystems collectively contain high levels of animal species diversity and genetic pool
variability with some species being endemic or rare, critically endangered, vulnerable or near-
Species Action Plans
Species Action Plan assesses the conservation status of species and their habitats, and
outlines conservation priorities for the species.
➢ Species: Common and scientific names/synonyms, subspecies, if relevant.
➢ Photo: A photo (if available) of the species
➢ Conservation status: Global and national IUCN Red List categories, CITES, and any
other national conservation status.
➢ Distribution, population size and trends
➢ Habitat and ecology: Habitat preferences and general comments on ecology.
➢ Primary threats: Brief outline of the main threats identified as being of immediate and
primary concern to the species.
➢ Conservation measures required: Outline of planned short-, medium- and long-term
➢ Current protection: is the species and its habitat currently protected?
➢ Current and previous conservation actions: Are any actions currently underway to
conserve this species, either in situ or ex situ?
➢ Knowledge gaps: Specific gaps in our knowledge of the species, which are relevant to
➢ Challenges and obstacles: That might stand in the way of achieving the goals of this plan
➢ Budget and funding sources: A rough estimate of overall costs over the life of the plan
Multi-Species Action Plans (MSAPs) are designed to coordinate conservation action that seeks to
protect groups of threatened species that occur across similar habitats.
Habitats and Ecosystem Action Plan
The extensive network of protected areas gazetted as national parks and reserves offer a greater
opportunity for Kenya’s biodiversity conservation.
1. Endangered ecosystems
Mara National Reserve, Mara Conservancy, Siana, Koiyaki, Olare Orok Lemek, Ol Pieyei,
Loita hills, plains and forest, Suswa, Nguruman, Maji Moto, Ol Choro Orua, Ol Gulului/
Lolorashi Group Ranch, Mbirikani Group Ranch, Kuku A and B Group Ranches, Selengei
Group Ranch, Ol Gulului Trust Land, Kimana Group Ranch, Rombo Group Ranch, West
Chyulu National Park,Mashuru, Nairobi National park, Athi-Kitengela & Kaputei Plains,
Machakos ranches, Lake Nakuru N.P and its catchment, Mau Forest Complex, Soysambu
Ranch, Marula Ranch, Lake Elementaita and its catchment and its basin, Soysambu Ranch,
Page 39 of 58
Marula ranch, Eburru Forest, Sibiloi National Park, Kerio valley, Lake Turkana, Mt. Kulal,
Loima hills, Mt. Nyiro, Central and Southern Islands National Parks, Nairobi Ranch, Kipini,
Witu forest, Tana Primate National Primate Reserve, Lango la Simba Ranch, Sheikh Salim
2. Areas of environmental significance
Baringo Ecosystem, Boni-Dodori -Kiunga Ecosystem, Malindi- Watamu Ecosystem, Mt.
Elgon Ecosystem, Mt. Kenya Ecosystem, Marsabit Ecosystem, Lake Naivasha Ecosystem,
Aberdare Ecosystem Ranges, Tsavo Ecosystem, Shimba Hills Ecosystem.
3. Water towers of national importance
Mt. Kenya Ecosystem, Aberdares Ecosystem, Mt. Elgon Ecosystem, Mau Forest Complex
Ecosystem, Cherangany Forests, Shimba Hills Ecosystem, Chyulu Hills, Taita Hills,
Marsabit Forest, Kibwezi Forest, Ngong Forest, Karura Forest, Mathews Range, Mua Hills,
Loita Hills, Kakamega Forest National Reserve, Bonjoge Forest, Ol Donyo Sabuk National
Park, Ndundori Hills
Habitats Action Plan
Management & conservation of forests, wetlands, grasslands and bushlands. At habitat level, the
priority is to establish the ecological processes important in maintaining biodiversity.
• Effects of fragmentation and degradation
• Relationship between intensity of human use and Bird/Herpes/Mammal community structure
(what levels of use are ‘sustainable’?)
• Higher-level ecological processes such as pollination and seed dispersal, and how these are
affected when disturbance alters the bird/mammal/herpes community
• Identification of indicator species or guilds that can be used to assess habitat condition or
• The value of birds/mammals/herpes in particular habitats and to humankind.
Sites Action Plan
The protection offered by national parks and other protected areas, and the identification by
NMK & Birdlife International of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) – then Important Biodiversity
Areas, provide the basis of strategies of bird and other biodiversity conservation that are site based.
The priorities are Important Bird Areas and potential Important Bird Areas. Among these, targets
for research should be based on (1) the priority listing for conservation action (‘critical’ CR,
Page 40 of 58
‘urgent’ UR or ‘high’ HI) and (2) the information already available for conservation
The Important Bird Areas (IBA) programme in Kenya: This programme was started in the
1990s with the function of identifying and protecting a network of sites at a biogeographic scale,
critical for the long term viability of naturally occurring bird populations, across the range of those
bird species for which a sites-based approach is appropriate (Bennun and Njoroge 1999). Sixty
IBAs (see Figure 6) were identified and documented following an internationally agreed criterion
in the late 1990s (Bennun and Njoroge 1999). Since then two more sites – Lake Olborossat and
Kwenia cliffs have been added onto the list. Since IBAs are key sites for conservation of birds
and other biodiversity in Kenya the programme helped set conservation priorities for Kenya.
Figure #: Map of the Important Bird Areas in Kenya
Page 41 of 58
Ecological concepts are general understandings (or facts) about ecosystems and ecosystem
management and conservation.
Levels of biological organization (genes, populations, species, communities, ecosystems,
Life is dynamic and involves multi-scale ecological patterns and processes that operate from
genes, populations, species, communities, ecosystems, landscapes, to regions. Although each
scale is important, the interdependence of scales needs to be understood and assessed in order to
Each of these scales interacts with their finer/faster and coarser/slower neighbouring scales
resulting in hierarchies and adaptive cycles that have been referred to as a panarchy.
Native species are those that naturally exist at a given location or in a particular ecosystem – i.e.,
they have not been moved there by humans.
Invasive alien species have the potential to displace native species and threaten ecosystems or
species with economic or environmental harm. Invasive alien species can be particularly
damaging since they are not subject to natural predators and diseases that keep populations of
native species in check. Some invasive aliens cause a fundamental change in ecosystem
composition, structure and function.
A keystone species, ecosystem or process has a disproportionate influence on an ecosystem or
• Keystone species have effects on biological communities that are disproportionate to their
abundance and biomass. The loss of keystone species results in broader community or
ecosystem-level effects. A keystone species interacts with other species through predation,
symbiotic dependencies such as plant-pollinator relationships, or ecosystem modification (e.g.,
cavity nesters, beaver impoundments).
• A keystone ecosystem is particularly important because it provides habitat for a large portion
or critical elements of an area’s biodiversity. Riparian ecosystems near streams, lakes and
wetlands are considered keystone since they cover a relatively small area yet support a
disproportionately large number of species. Estuaries are also a keystone ecosystem because of
their disproportionately large influence relative to their size and abundance.
• A keystone process is fundamental to the maintenance of an ecosystem.
Page 42 of 58
Population viability/thresholds “Viability” in this context refers to the probability of survival
of a population/species in the face of ecological processes such as disturbance. When the amount
of habitat available declines below the “extinction threshold”, a population/species will decline
and eventually disappear; in addition to habitat for particular populations, a species’ survival
depends on maintaining healthy genetic variability. Species-level details about movement,
behaviour and life history traits demonstrate that threshold responses vary by species and can be
difficult to detect.
The concept of minimum viable population refers to the smallest isolated population having a
reasonable chance of surviving over time despite the foreseeable effects of demographic,
environmental and genetic events and natural disturbances. Therefore, in smaller
populations, the reproduction and survival of individuals decreases, leading to a continuing
decline in population numbers. This effect may be due to a number of causes such as inbreeding
or the ability to find a mate, which may become increasingly difficult as population density
Ecological resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to cope with disturbance or stress and
return to a stable state. The concept of ecological resilience is consistent with the notion that
ecosystems are complex, dynamic and adaptive systems that are rarely at equilibrium; most
systems can potentially exist in various states. Moreover, they continually change in unpredictable
ways in response to a changing environment. This concept measures the amount of stress or
disruption required to transform a system that is maintained by one set of structures and
processes to a different set of structures and functions. A resilient ecosystem can better
withstand shocks and rebuild itself without collapsing into a different state.
Ecosystem change can occur suddenly if the resilience that normally buffers change has been
reduced. Such changes become more likely when slow variables erode. Slow variables include the
diversity of species and their abundance in the ecosystem, and regional variability in the
environment due to factors such as climate. All of these variables are affected by human
Both functional diversity and response diversity are important to maintain ecological resilience.
Functional diversity is the number of functionally different groups of species and consists of
two aspects: one that affects the influence of a function within a scale (see ‘levels of biological
organization’ above) and the other that aggregates that influence across scales. Response
diversity is the diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to
the same ecological function and provides adaptive capacity given complex systems, uncertainty
and human influence. In a rangeland, for example, functional diversity increases the productivity
of a plant community as a whole, bringing together species that take water from different depths,
grow at different speeds, and store different amounts of carbon and nutrients. Response diversity
enables a community to keep performing in the same way in the face of stresses and disturbances
such as grazing and drought.
Page 43 of 58
Disturbances are individually distinct events, either natural or human-induced, that cause a
change in the existing condition of an ecological system. Disturbances can be described in terms
of their type, intensity, spatial extent, frequency and other factors.
• Natural disturbances include wildfire, flood, freshet, Lake turnover, drought, wind-throw, and
insect and disease outbreaks. Some “natural disturbances” may be responding to human-caused
climate change – a current example is the mountain pine beetle epidemic in the interior of the
province. Extreme natural disturbance events often characterize an ecosystem and ensure the
presence of some species. Disturbance is critical to maintaining the richness of systems (e.g.,
riparian ecosystems) or rejuvenating them.
• Human-induced disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems include, for example, timber harvesting,
road building, and rural and urban development. Human-caused aquatic disturbances include
damming, water extraction from rivers and streams, wetland drainage and pollution. Some of these
human related disturbances cause lasting changes that can fundamentally alter ecosystems
and modify our approach to ecosystem management. For example, to reduce fire damage on
property and in forests, the management response is to reduce the size and intensity of forest fires,
which truncates the range of disturbances of ecosystems.
• Biological legacies are the elements of a pre-disturbance ecosystem that survive to
participate in its recovery. They are a structural consequence of the selective filter that the
disturbance process imposes on the ecosystem. Biological legacies are critical elements of
ecosystem dynamics across a broad range of ecosystems studied. Examples are standing live and
dead trees in forests, which are common within the perimeter of a wildfire and play critical roles
in the establishment of new forests and in sustaining biodiversity.
The term “natural range of variability” (NRV) is used to describe naturally occurring variation
over time of the composition and structure found in a system, resulting in part from sequences of
Climate change will play an important (though not the only) role in future changes to the NRV.
The current rate of rapid climate change has the potential to shift ecosystems out of the range
of conditions they experienced historically. As a result, the past will become an increasingly
unreliable guide for estimating the current and future NRV for an area. Alternatively, NRV could
be estimated using climate models, however, it should be recognized that a time lag would be
expected as the composition and structure of an ecosystem shifts due to changes in the NRV.
Connectivity/fragmentation is the degree to which ecosystem structure facilitates or impedes
the movement of organisms between resource patches. What constitutes connectivity is scale-
dependent and varies for each species depending on its habitat requirements, sensitivity to
disturbance and vulnerability to human-caused mortality. Connectivity allows individual
organisms to move in response to changing conditions, such as seasonal cycles, a forest fire or
climate change. Loss of connectivity results in fragmentation. The degree and characteristics of
Page 44 of 58
natural connectivity vary with differences in landscape type. Humans can impact connectivity and
cause fragmentation in ways that can adversely affect biodiversity. Connectivity and
fragmentation are both important contributors to ecosystem function and processes. For
example, some habitat types (e.g., caves, bogs, cliffs) may be ‘naturally’ fragmented; others (e.g.,
streams, riparian habitat) are essentially linear; and others are often distributed in large blocks or
patches. A key management challenge is how to deal with habitats that existed naturally in
large patches but which, as a result of human activity, have been converted into much
smaller, sometimes isolated patches. Another challenge is to reduce ‘unnatural’ connectivity to
naturally fragmented and isolated habitats so that the unique species they support are not displaced
by invading species.
Ecological principles are basic assumptions (or beliefs) about ecosystems and how they function
and are informed by the ecological concepts. Ecological principles build on ecological concepts
to draw key conclusions that can then guide human applications aimed at conserving
Protection of species and species’ subdivisions will conserve genetic diversity
At the population level, the important processes are ultimately genetic and evolutionary because
these maintain the potential for continued existence of species and their adaptation to changing
conditions. In most instances managing for genetic diversity directly is impractical and difficult
to implement. The most credible surrogate for sustaining genetic variability is maintaining not
only species but also the spatial structure of genetic variation within species (such as sub-species
and populations). Maintenance of populations distributed across a species’ natural range
will assist in conserving genetic variability. This ensures the continuation of locally adapted
genetic variants. Retaining a variety of individuals and species permits the adaptability needed to
sustain ecosystem productivity in changing environments and can also cause further diversity
(future adaptability). This will be particularly important given climate change; for example, the
genetic potential of populations at the edge of their range may be particularly important to help
facilitate species adaptation to changes. Species that are collapsing towards the edge (versus
centre) of their range and disjunct populations (where a local population is disconnected from the
continuous range of the species) are also particularly important to consider, given climate change,
in order to conserve genetic diversity and enable adaptation.
Page 45 of 58
Maintaining habitat is fundamental to conserving species
A species habitat is the ecosystem conditions that support its life requirements. Our
understanding of habitat is based on our knowledge of a species’ ecology and how that determines
where a species is known to occur or likely to occur. Habitat can be considered at a range of spatial
and temporal scales that include specific microsites (e.g., occupied by certain invertebrates,
bryophytes, some lichens), large heterogeneous habitats, or occupancy of habitat during certain
time periods (e.g., breeding sites, winter range areas). Therefore, conserving habitat requires a
multi-scale approach from regions to landscapes to ecosystems to critical habitat elements,
features and structures.
Large areas usually contain more species than smaller areas with similar habitat
The theory of island biogeography illustrates a basic principle that large areas usually contain
more species than smaller areas with similar habitat because they can support larger and more
viable populations. The theory holds that the number of species on an island is determined by two
factors: the distance from the mainland and island size. These would affect the rate of extinction
on the islands and the level of immigration. Other factors being similar (including distance to the
mainland), on smaller islands the chance of extinction is greater than on larger ones. This is
one reason why larger islands can hold more species than smaller ones. In the context of applying
the theory more broadly, the “island” can be any area of habitat surrounded by areas unsuitable for
the species on the island. Therefore, a system of areas conserved for biodiversity that includes
large areas can effectively support more viable populations.
All things are connected but the nature and strength of those connections vary
Species play many different roles in communities and ecosystems and are connected by those
roles to other species in different ways and with varying degrees of strength. It is important to
understand key interactions. Some species (e.g., keystone species) have a more profound effect
Page 46 of 58
on ecosystems than others. Particular species and networks of interacting species have key,
broad-scale ecosystem-level effects while others do not. The ways in which species interact
vary in addition to the strengths of those interactions. Species can be predator and/or prey,
mutualist or synergist. Mutualist species provide a mutually beneficial association for each other
such as fungi that colonize plant roots and aid in the uptake of soil mineral nutrients. Synergistic
species create an effect greater than that predicted by the sum of effects each is able to create
independently. The key issue is that it is important to determine which among the many
interactions the strong ones are because those are the ones toward which attention need to be
Disturbances shape the characteristics of populations, communities, and ecosystems
The type, intensity, frequency and duration of disturbances shape the characteristics of
populations, communities and ecosystems including their size, shape and spatial
relationships. Natural disturbances have played a key role in forming and maintaining natural
ecosystems by influencing their structure including the size, shape and distribution of patches. The
more regions, landscapes, ecosystems and local habitat elements resemble those that were
established from natural disturbances, the greater the probability that native species and
ecological processes will be maintained. This approach can be strengthened by developing an
improved understanding of how ecosystems respond to both natural and human
disturbances, thus creating opportunities to build resilience in the system. For example, high
frequency, low intensity fires have shaped some forest ecosystems while low frequency, high
intensity fires have shaped grassland ecosystems. Since ecosystems can change dramatically at
the site level due to natural disturbances, considering their composition and structure of habitats
at the landscape-level may be more useful. For terrestrial ecosystems, this means taking into
a. Species composition;
b. The amount and patch size distribution;
c. The variety and proportion of consecutive stages of terrestrial habitat from
young to old; and
d. The diversity of within community structure.
It is important to recognize that for some less mobile species, distribution of habitat is potentially
as influential as amount of habitat (i.e., patch size; connectivity).
Climate influences terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems
Climate is usually defined as all of the states of the atmosphere seen at a place over many years.
Climate has a dominant effect on biodiversity as it influences meteorological variables like
Page 47 of 58
temperature, precipitation and wind with consequences for many ecological and physical
processes, such as photosynthesis and fire behaviour. For example, major temperature fluctuations
in surface waters in the Ocean due to El Nino climatic events can influence weather and
significantly warm temperatures. This in turn can increase some wildlife populations or impact
the migration timing of some migratory bird populations. Because of the key role of climate,
rapid climate change profoundly changes ecosystems. For example, climate change enables
population outbreaks in some species. Alterations to stream flow and timing of freshet resulting
from climate change affects fish and waterfowl.
Page 48 of 58
BIOTECHNOLOGY IN BIODIVERSITY
One of the tools used to enhance biodiversity is biotechnology. Biotechnology is generally
considered to be “any technique that uses living organisms to make or modify a product, to
improve plants or animals, or to develop microorganisms for specific uses”. Modern
biotechnologies offer vast potential for improving the quality and increasing the productivity of
agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Biotechnology already assists the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources through:
1. new methods for collecting and storing genes (as seed and tissue culture).
2. detection and elimination of diseases in gene bank collections.
3. identification of useful genes.
4. improved techniques for long-term storage.
5. safer and more efficient distribution of germplasm to users.
More plant conservationists are turning to DNA technologies to have effective conservation
strategies. The DNA bank is an efficient, simple and long-term method used in conserving genetic
resource for biodiversity. Compared to traditional seed or field gene banks, DNA banks lessen the
risk of exposing genetic information in natural surroundings. It only requires small sample size for
storage and keeps the stable nature of DNA in cold storage. Since whole plants cannot be obtained
from DNA, the stored genetic material must be introduced through genetic techniques. Gene bank
documentation has been enhanced with the advances in information technology, geographical
information systems (GIS), and DNA marker.
In vitro techniques are also valuable for conserving plant biodiversity. Such techniques involve
three basic steps: culture initiation, culture maintenance and multiplication, and storage. For
medium-term storage (few months to few years), slow growth strategies are applied. For undefined
time of storage, cryopreservation is applied. In cryopreservation, plant tissues are processed to
become artificial seeds and stored at very low temperatures to impede growth. Cryopreservation
allows 20 percent increase in regeneration process compared to other conservation methods.
Germplasm refers to living tissues from which new plants can form. It can be a whole plant, or
part of a plant such as leaf, stem, pollen, or even just a number of cells. A germplasm holds
information on the genetic makeup of the species. Scientists evaluate the diversity of plant
germplasms to find ways on how to develop new better yielding and high-quality varieties that can
resist diseases, constantly evolving pests, and environmental stresses. Germplasm evaluation
involves screening of germplasm in terms of physical, genetic, economic, biochemical,
physiological, pathological, and entomological attributes.
Molecular markers are used to map out the genetic base of crops and select favorable traits to come
up with a better germplasm for growers. Molecular markers are short strings or sequence of nucleic
acid which composes a DNA segment that are closely linked to specific genes in a chromosome.
Thus, if the markers are present, then the specific gene of interest is also present. Marker-assisted
selection (MAS) such as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), is widely used in different
Page 49 of 58
agricultural research centers to design genotyping arrays with thousands of markers spread over
the entire genome of the crops.
After observing the desired traits in selected plants, these are then incorporated through modern or
conventional breeding methods in existing crop varieties. Generated plants with the desired trait
may be tested in the field for agronomic assessment and resistance screening against pests and
diseases. Selected plants plants will be multiplied through tissue culture and other techniques.
DNA and Protein Profiling
To come up with effective conservation management programs for endangered crop varieties, it
is important to evaluate their genetic relatedness and distances from other relatives. Such
information could be derived through DNA profiling commonly conducted through
Through this method, an individual organism is identified using unique characteristics of its DNA.
DNA profiling depends on sections of the DNA that do not code for a protein. These areas contain
repetitive sections of a sequence called short tandem repeats (STRs). Organisms inherit different
numbers of repeated sequences from each parent and the variation in the number of repeats within
an STR lead to DNA of different lengths. The targeted STR regions on the DNA are multiplied
through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and then separated by electrophoresis in a genetic
analyzer. The analyzer is composed of a gel-filled capillary tube where DNA travels. When electric
current is passed through the tube, the DNA fragments move through the gel tube by size (smallest
travels first). The digital output of the analyzer is read and interpreted through a genotyping
Proteins are involved in different important processes within the cell. The entire set of proteins in
a cell is referred to as proteome, and the study concerned with how proteins work and assembled
is called proteomics.17 Proteomics is based on the end-products of gene activity: the protein
patterns formed from unique genetic activities. Through two-dimensional acrylamide gel
electrophoresis (2DE), complex mix of proteins is sorted in based on each protein’s specific
combination of charge and molecular weight. These patterns are standard for protein discovery
because the same proteins would migrate at the same points on the gel. The protein bands are
developed in digital images and then analyzed in mass spectrometers.18
Biotech for Biodiversity Utilization
Most cultivated plant species have lost their inherent traits that came from their wild ancestors.
These traits include resistance to harsh environmental conditions, adaptation to various soil and
climate conditions, and resistance to pests and pathogens.19 To utilize these important traits in
cultivated varieties, scientists search for the genes that confer such important traits. They use
conventional and modern biotechnology to create improved genetic variations of crops.
Page 50 of 58
One of the most widely used traditional technique in plant breeding is hybridization or the crossing
of parent lines (pure breeds of the same species) with desirable traits to come up with an improved
line called hybrid. It takes advantage of heterosis or hybrid vigor, a phenomenon that brings out
the superior qualities of the pure breeds through breeding. Desired traits can also be employed in
plants through modern genetic modification techniques such as particle bombardment and
Agrobacterium tumefaciens-mediated transformation.20
Development of biotechnologies raised fears on loss of genetic resources on the part of farmers
and developing countries. This called for public policy interventions that promote provision of
public goods associated with agricultural biodiversity conservation and direct biotechnology
development to meet the needs of the developing world. One of the policies formed to answer this
need is the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing
of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity which was
adopted at the 10th meeting of the Conference of Parties on October 29, 2010 in Nagoya, Japan.
Through the Protocol, a legal framework is set for the biotechnology industry to manage access to
genetic resources and provide fair and equal sharing of benefits.21 The Protocol was
acknowledged by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) as a helpful guideline to meet
the common goal of conserving and sustaining biological diversity in all levels.
A wide range of biotech products have shown that biotechnology has been highly profitable for
farmers and the society especially in the fields of agriculture and medicine. Biotechnology
applications offer opportunities to make substantial advances in our knowledge of the diversity of
some of the most important crops.23 Together with the traditional techniques, these applications
lead us to more impact in plant genetic resources and biodiversity in general and in return meet
the needs of the massively growing population and sustain life under rapidly changing climate.
Page 51 of 58
THE INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK ON BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND
MANAGEMENT (POLICY, LEGAL & ADMINISTRATION ARRANGEMENTS) IN
The following key institutions relate to wildlife governance structures in Kenya:
• The Ministry of environment, natural resources and regional development authorities
• Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS).
• Kenya Forestry Service.
• National Environment Management Authority (NEMA).
• National Museums of Kenya.
• State Department of Fisheries (FiD) and Blue Economy.
• Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI).
• Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KEMFRI).
• Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS).
• Kenya National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (KNBSAP).
• Universities (UoN, UoE, KARU, etc.).
• Community Conservation Groups / Associations.
• Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA).
• Local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
• Mpala Research Centre (MRC).
• Wildlife Clubs of Kenya Centre for Tourism Training and Research.
• Nature Kenya.
• African Conservation Centre (ACC).
• International Organizations (AEWA, AWF, WWF, IUCN, Birdlife International,
• Africa Wildlife Foundation (AWF).
• World Wildlife Fund (WWF): Eastern Africa Regional Programme Office.
• Conservancy and the Conservation Development Center (CDC).
• International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).
• International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
• Earthwatch Institute.
• Wildlife Conservation International (WCI).
The Ministry of environment, natural resources and regional development authorities
The Ministry of environment, natural resources and regional development authorities has its
fundamental goal and purpose of managing, conserving, and protecting wildlife resources in
Kenya. The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities
was established by Executive Order No. 2/2013 of May 2013 following the merge of the Ministries
of Environment and Mineral Resources, Forestry and Wildlife and Regional Development. The
Ministry is mandated to undertake protection, conservation and development of
environment and natural resources for sustainable development. The mission of the Ministry
is to facilitate good governance in the protection, restoration, conservation, development and
management of environment, and natural resources for equitable and sustainable development.