General study framework: Tropical forests are important habitats for endangered plant and animal species, but also provide various ecosystem services, which are crucial for the local human population. Most of the global forest biodiversity hotspots are located in the tropics, in developing countries, where human demographic pressure is exceptionally high. This has led to rapid transformation of pristine habitats and a reduction of ecosystem service provision by these formerly intact ecosystems. To establish efficient nature conservation programmes maintaining habitats for endangered species, as well as intact ecosystem services for the local human population, a combination of scientists and stakeholders from various disciplines has to collaborate to elaborate holistic strategies. In our transdisciplinary north-south, and south-south biodiversity network we combine scientists from the fields of
(i) plant and animal ecology,
(ii) agro-ecology and ecosystem functions,
(iii) land-cover mapping, and
(iv) education, communication and management.
The proposal focuses on joint-workshops, lectures and field work and combines student training with natural and social research. Activities will take place in three selected forest model regions, in collaboration with adjoining young universities in south-east Kenya: Riparian forests around Kitui with the South Eastern Kenya University SEKU, Arabuko Sokoke coastal forest together with Pwani University PU, and the Taita Hills cloud forest with the Taita Taveta University TTU (see below).
All of these areas are under extreme environmental stress. We will discuss and develop strategies which have long-term impact and which are realistic, implementing the usage of forest resources by the local human population. Our activities focus particularly on uniting scientists and practitioners. We further intend to train and sensitize young students being the decision-makers of tomorrow in this highly fragile country. The complete project description is provided here.
Contact: Jan Christian Habel, Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Technical University Munich, Germany; E-Mail: Janchristianhabel@