Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 2751–2758 | Cite as

East African coastal forest under pressure

  • Jan Christian HabelEmail author
  • Ivon Constanza Cuadros Casanova
  • Camilo Zamora
  • Mike Teucher
  • Berthold Hornetz
  • Halimu Shauri
  • Ronald K. Mulwa
  • Luc Lens
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Forest and plantation biodiversity


The Arabuko Sokoke dryland coastal forest along the East African coastline provides a unique habitat for many endangered endemic animal and plant species. High demographic pressure with subsequent land-splitting, soil depletion in combination with erratic rainfalls and the collapse of the tourism industry are negatively affecting food security and human livelihood quality in this region. Food crops were originally produced by subsistence farming, but have now to be purchased at local- and super-markets, constituting a major financial burden for the local people. In consequence, overexploitation of natural resources from Arabuko Sokoke forest (illegal logging, charcoal burning, poaching of wild animals) increased during the past years. In this commentary we document ecosystem heterogeneity leading to high species richness. We discuss direct and indirect drivers of habitat degradation of the Arabuko Sokoke forest, and critically reflect current and future solutions. Key drivers of habitat destruction and biodiversity loss are (i) illegal timber logging and removal of woody biomass, (ii) poaching of bush-meat, (iii) exceeding of the carrying capacity by the local elephant population, restricted to Arabuko Sokoke by an electric fence, and (iv) weak governance structures and institutional confusion exacerbating illegal exploitation of natural resources. Potential solutions might be: Provisioning of additional income sources; reforestation of the surrounding areas in the framework of REDD+ activities to create a buffer around the remaining primary forest; improving governance structures that formulates clear guidelines on future usage and protection of natural resources within the Arabuko Sokoke forest; and family planning to counteract human demographic pressure and the exploitation of natural resources.


Biodiversity hotspot Disturbances Endemism Exploitation Poverty Natural resources Governance structures 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jan Christian Habel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ivon Constanza Cuadros Casanova
    • 1
  • Camilo Zamora
    • 1
  • Mike Teucher
    • 2
  • Berthold Hornetz
    • 3
  • Halimu Shauri
    • 4
  • Ronald K. Mulwa
    • 5
  • Luc Lens
    • 6
  1. 1.Terrestrial Ecology Research Group, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem Management, School of Life Sciences WeihenstephanTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany
  2. 2.Department of Spatial and Environmental Sciences, CartographyTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  3. 3.Department of Spatial and Environmental Sciences, BiogeographyTrier UniversityTrierGermany
  4. 4.Department of Social SciencesPwani UniversityKilifiKenya
  5. 5.Zoology DepartmentNational Museums of KenyaNairobiKenya
  6. 6.Terrestrial Ecology Unit, Department of BiologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

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