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Tuesday, January 26 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
Assessing The Status of Forest Health Across Different Forest Management Policies and Levels of Human Use: A Case Study of Kakamega Tropical Rainforest, Kenya

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AUTHORS: Christopher Amutabi Kefa*, Masters Student at Bowling Green State University; Dr. Andrew J. Gregory, Assistant Professor of Spatial Ecology at Bowling Green State University

ABSTRACT: Despite efforts to protect tropical rain forests as important ecological systems, over-reliance on the forests for subsistence by the local people continues to be a conservation challenge. Kakamega Forest, in Kenya is located amid one of the most highly populated rural areas with approximately 540 people/km2 and poverty level of 52.1%. The primary uses of the forest include wood harvesting for cooking; timber and poles for construction; and harvesting of medicinal plants. Approximately 20% of the forest area is managed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) where harvesting of forest products is prohibited; and 80% of the area is managed by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in collaboration with the Community Forest Association where controlled harvesting of forest products is permitted with a fee. We investigated the impacts of human use of the forest and regulatory agency management practices on forest tree species diversity and arthropod diversity. We used USFS timber cruising methodology to assess the metrics of species diversity and richness at random locations across the entire forest and pitfall and Winkler traps to evaluate species diversity of Carabids and other ground arthropods as bio-indicators of forest health. Covariates of human use of the forest were assessed by measuring the mass of wood head bundles carried out from random locations around the forest. We also used game cameras to monitor type and frequency of human use of the forest. Our findings indicate that despite KWS prohibition on tree harvest in the forest, harvesting of forest products still takes place. However, KWS managed areas still have comparatively higher species diversity and richness; and reduced human activity compared to KFS. Forest health is negatively associated with the level of human activity, but people need to use the forest to live; therefore, forest management needs to integrate local people’s use into management policies.

Tuesday January 26, 2016 4:00pm - 4:20pm EST
Emerald B