A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Conservation Centre boasts of the great diversity in flora and fauna that surrounds the area. The Mwamba Nature Trail is one of these gems well known to host numerous species of birds, butterflies, beetles, lizards, and even the syke’s monkey among others. However, for those with a keen eye, animal life is not the only attraction in this area.
The trail begins at a small gate within the centre. One notable feature as you enter is the abundance of forest undergrowth that meets the eye. Numerous trees are marked with metal or plastic plates depicting the type of tree, it’s scientific and local names as well. Kirao, research scientist at the centre, Explains that the plant tags are what they use to identify different species in their weekly plant phenology data recordings.
Plant phenology is defined as the study of the periodic plant cycle events and how factors such as climate, weather conditions and pollinators affect its distribution, flowering patterns and survival in an area. Every week Kirao and his team go round the trail, armed with spreadsheets and binoculars, analyzing and recording the different characteristics of the plants at a given time. These characteristics range from the budding, flowering and fruiting rates of a species of plant at a given time and the duration it takes to the next cycle as well as the pollinators involved in the process.
“It is a time-consuming process that requires patience and a keen eye to detail. To get accurate results, data is collected over many months, even years for some. Over time, we are able to know the well-being of a plant in a certain environment, predict the times when seeds can be collected for replanting, which animals aid in dispersal of the seeds and the pollinators present at each type of tree”, Kirao explains. “We also teach communities on the importance of certain birds, butterflies and monkeys which could be mistaken as pests but are actually seed dispersal agents and pollinators aiding in the growth of the natural forests”.
This study further drives A Rocha Kenya’s conservation efforts to greater heights. By educating the local communities and engaging them in tree planting activities, the redemption of the East African Coastal forests is underway and steadily gaining momentum.