Dakatcha Woodlands, north west of Malindi, is threatened to go down. Illegal logging, charcoal burning and pineapple plantations degrade and destroy.
Dakatcha forest is internationally recognised for holding substantial populations of globally- threatened species, such as the Endangered Sokoke Scops Owl, the Sokoke Pipit, and Clarke’s Weaver as well as the Golden-rumped Elephant-Shrew (Sengi). Yet, despite its “specialness”, the forest has no formal protection status. The land is fast being transformed by uncontrolled timber production and agricultural extension and intensification at an alarming rate, to such an extent that this forest could no longer be standing in 10 to 20 years’ time.
Already in 2012, the Kirosa Scott Reserve was established. The last two years, in partnership with Anglican Development Services-Pwani and Farm Concern International we have been working on a project funded by Tearfund. Now with support from the Leventis Foundation ARK continues conserving forest in Dakatcha. With the landscape changing at a high rate, we intend to extend the reserves from 90ha to 315ha by purchasing more land.
Now, you do not need much observation skills to realise that the African continent is on the move. It is youthful and wonderful and all countries of this vast continent have rightful high development aspirations. But must these development aspirations come at all cost? Can they come at the cost of swapping a landscape that is internationally recognised for its ecological importance for a mono-culture landscape similar to all other mono-culture landscapes across the tropics? Is that what we want really? Do people realise what they will be losing? Are the people of Dakatcha or of the county of Kilifi in which the forest lies ready to risk living in a landscape that was once special?
We certainly do not think so. Through our project we are asking people to think about this too.
In support of the forest of Dakatcha, A Rocha Kenya will also be running an outreach campaign highlighting what we and they are at risk of losing by challenging, local communities (churches,schools and farmers), local government, and other stakeholders, who have a role to play in this landscape, to take action in favor of the forest and its wildlife. Extensive wildlife surveys to track the status of this environment and guide our efforts and that of others will be conducted.
We hope that we can continue to count on your support for our endeavours, so as to make all people want to live in landscapes that are special and different. There is little time for a gradual conservation process. Forests must be bought and saved – now!