Launch of CHIESA research results in Taita Hills

True to its objectives of increasing knowledge on the effects of climate change and building the adaptive capacity of the local communities, the CHIESA project held a one day information dissemination seminar in Taita Hills, to share  materials and results from the geo-spatial research with stakeholders. The seminar was attended by close to seventy participants who included the country government officials, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Water, Kenya Forest Service, local NGOs and representatives from various community based organisations.

The seminar was held at the Lavender Garden Hotel in Wundanyi town, the capital of the Taita Taveta County and was officially opened by H.E. John Mruttu, Governor of Taita Taveta County. In attendance was also the Deputy governor H.E Mary Ndiga. In his opening speech, the Governor stated that the political leadership in the Taita Taveta County had the responsibility to allocate resources and advocate for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change in the Taita Hills. He further indicated that the availability of scientific data originating from the CHIESA research had provided the local government with a foundation and credible information for policy formulation and implementation for the efficient management of environmental resources.

The presentations were made in sessions that covered: Environmental research and climate change adaptation in Taita Hills; The beautiful nature of the Taita Hills; Application of Geo-informatics and environmental modeling in Taita Hills; and Participatory Geoinformation Systems (PGIS). Prof. Petri Pellikka from the University of Helsinki gave a history of the environmental research that had been carried out in the Taita Hills since 1989. Within that time over 50 Msc theses and 10 PhD dissertations had been completed in Kenya, Finland and Belgium. He further highlighted some of the research and development projects that had been carried out in by the University of Helsinki and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

The research publications can be accessed on http://blogs.helsinki.fi/taita-research-station/references/

The Taita Hills are home to some of the endemic plant and animal species. Prof. Jouko Rikkinen talked about the potential role of a botanical garden in the area to preserve some of the endemic flora in the region. This garden would provide an opportunity for scientific research, source of information for the local community and the preservation of the cultural importance of some of the plants. Prof. Juha Karhu talked about the geology of the Taita Hills, focusing on marble which is common in the Taita area, its importance and different uses.

During the seminar two important publications, developed from the research activities under the CHIESA project in the Taita Hills, were launched. These were:  Community based Climate change Adaptation Action Plan for the Taita Hills 2015 - 2019 and A Natural history of Wild Fruits of the Taita Hills (Information and Free download of the book available here). The adaptation action plan was a compilation of a one-year long process to identify the impacts of climate change and come up with a local plan for adaptation. This plan was prepared in partnership with the community and other stakeholders of Taita Hills. The second one was a resource book prepared from a yearlong study of the wild fruits in the Taita Hills and the insects associated with them. The resource book is presented in a visual form and can be used as a field guide and to provide baseline data to evaluate changes due to future climatic effects. 

Scholars from The University of Helsinki and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology discussed the application of Geoinformatics and environmental modelling in the Taita Hills. They covered the process of map-making in the Taita Hills; the impact of land change on aboveground carbon stocks in Taita Hills; mapping land cover using airborne laser scanning and image spectroscopy data fusion and assessing land suitability for effective crop production.

 At the end of the presentations the participants had a general discussion on the water resources in the Taita Taveta County. The discussion covered issues such as the challenges facing water resources in the county and some of the interventions that the local government and the community can undertake to conserve these resources.

  

Please click here to view the seminar photos

To view all the presentation slides from the seminar, Please click here

For information and free download of the CHIESA Book - A Natural History of the wildfruits of Taita Hills Kenya, Please click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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