Land Degradation of the Mau Forest Complex in Eastern Africa: A Review for Management and Restoration Planning
Olang, L. O.
Kundu, Peter Musula
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The Mau Forest Complex is the largest closed-canopy montane ecosystem in Eastern Africa. It encompasses seven forest blocks within the Mau Narok, Maasai Mau, Eastern Mau, Western Mau, Southern Mau, South West Mau and Transmara regions. The area is thus the largest water tower in the region, being the main catchment area for 12 rivers draining into Lake Baringo, Lake Nakuru, Lake Turkana, Lake Natron and the Trans-boundary Lake Victoria (Kundu et al., 2008; Olang & Fürst, 2011). However, in the past three decades or so, the Mau Forest Complex (MFC) has undergone significant land use changes due to increased human population demanding land for settlement and subsistence agriculture. The encroachment has led to drastic and considerable land fragmentation, deforestation of the headwater catchments and destruction of wetlands previously existing within the fertile upstream parts. Today, the effects of the anthropogenic activities are slowly taking toll as is evident from the diminishing river discharges during periods of low flows, and deterioration of river water qualities through pollution from point and non-point sources (Kenya Forests Working Group [KFWG], 2001; Baldyga et al., 2007). Augmented by the adverse effects of climate change and variability, the dwindling land and water resources has given rise to insecurity and conflicts associated with competition for the limited resources. It is hence becoming urgently important that renewed efforts are focused on this region to avail better information for appropriate planning and decision support