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BIOTA - Biodiversity Monitoring Transect Analysis in Africa

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  • Prof. Einhard Schmidt-Kallert (Head)
  • Dr. Karin Gaesing (Co-ordinator)
  • Prof. Günter Kroës (advisor)
  • Prof. Volker Kreibich (advisor)
  • Prof. Mathias Becker (ARTS Agriculture, Bonn)
  • Prof. Robert Kappel (GIGA Hamburg)


Under the umbrella of the BIOLOG programme in East Africa (BIOTA East Africa), the Faculty of Spatial Planning of the University of Dortmund conducted research around Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya from June 2004 to July 2010. The Dortmund sub-project, the so-called E14b, focused on the political, institutional and planning conditions that are necessary to motivate and enable the local population living around the forest to protect it and use it in a sustainable way instead of continuing to exploit it. Hereby, the Faculty of Planning closely cooperated with two German partners. The Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Bonn analysed interrelations between agriculture and forest biodiversity and elaborates possibilities for farmers to increase the agricultural productivity. The GIGA Institute in Hamburg focused on livelihood analysis of the forest surrounding population and conducts in-depth studies on alternative income sources for farmers.


Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya was chosen as a case study area, because it is the only remaining rainforest area in East Africa that has a comparably high biodiversity combining afro-montane species with Guineo-Congolean vegetation. In addition to that, the forest, which is a protected area, is situated in an environment with one of the highest population densities in rural Africa (524 inhabitants/km²), which submits the forest to enormous pressure from the surrounding population. The population gains their income mainly from agriculture and from the – mostly illegal – use of the forest and its products. Due to low productivity and inheritance rules that split up the land between the male children of a farmer and thus further reduce the already small fields, the income from agriculture has reduced over the past years. Poor households tend to turn to the forest for firewood, charcoal and medicinal plants, they try to clear land for cultivation and send their cattle to the forest for grazing.


Besides an extensive household survey, action research on alternative income options and several thematic in-depth studies, we conducted Participatory Land Use Planning Workshops in three villages. The community members themselves drew a map of their village, analysed income sources and expenditure items, institutions, work load and calendar as well as problems and potentials in their community. Based on this participatory analysis, they elaborated a Community Action Plan, specifying solutions for the problems identified, the role of different actors and a rough time frame for the implementation of the planned projects. Selected community-based pilot activities were implemented with the help of the research project. An F-Project was conducted in 2009/2010 to study the institutional set-up of these pilot projects and develop success factors for group-based income generating activities.


For more information on the BIOTA E14b project, refer to the following link and publications:


  • www.Biota-Africa.org
  • Gaesing, Karin (ed.) (2009): Reconciling Rural Livelihood and Biodiversity Conservation. Lessons from Research and Practice. SPRING Research Series No. 52. Dortmund
  • Advanced Project F11 (2010): Combining Livelihood Needs and Biodiversity Conservation. The case of Kakamega District (Kenya). Final Report