OJE  Vol.3 No.6 , October 2013
Natural regeneration and ecological recovery in Mau Forest complex, Kenya
Abstract: This study investigated natural ecological recovery in parts of Western and Southwestern blocks of theMauForestcomplex that had experienced varied levels of disturbance. The extent and speed of regeneration in the disturbed regions since the eviction of the setter population were not known. This study thus now provides current baseline data on plant distribution, germination of soil bank seeds, and soil nutrient content. The number of tree species recorded at different levels of disturbance were in increas- ing order: moderately disturbed (MDF) > undisturbed (UDF) > heavy disturbed forest (HDF). Forest clearing reduced forest basal area and forest stocking of big trees (dbh ≥40 cm) in the HDF by more than 4 and 6 times, respectively, than those in UDF. Tree importance values indicated a reduction in commercially valuable species in HDF. Early colonizers and fire tolerant species were predominant in the HDF whereas non-commercial species dominated MDF. Viable soil seed reserves decreased with soil depth in all forests but content between 0 -20 cmsoil depth showed a potential to support regeneration. Total N, organic C and available P decreased with increase in forest disturbance. Overall, the disturbed sites showed a general potential for ecological recovery and natural regeneration to UDF status.
Cite this paper: Kinjanjui, J. , Karachi, M. and Ondimu, K. (2013) Natural regeneration and ecological recovery in Mau Forest complex, Kenya. Open Journal of Ecology, 3, 417-422. doi: 10.4236/oje.2013.36047.

[1]   Beentje, H.J. (1990) The forests of Kenya. Proceedings of 12th Plenary Meeting of Aetfat, Hamburg, 23, 265-286.

[2]   Kenya Indigenous Forest Conservation (1993) Mau forest conservation project proposal. KFCON Report, Vol. 4, Nairobi.

[3]   Minisrty of Finance and Plannimg (2000) Poverty in Kenya. Incidence and Depth of Poverty in Kenya, Vol. 6, Nairobi.

[4]   White, F. (1983) The vegetation of Africa. UNESCO, Paris.

[5]   Mutanga, J.G., Mwangangi, O.M. and Mwaura, P.K. (1993) Mau forest complex vegetation survey. KIFCON Report, Nairobi.

[6]   Alder, D. and Synnott, T.J. (1992) Permanent sample plot techniques for mixed tropical forest. Oxford Forestry Instatute, Tropical Forest Papers, 25.

[7]   Magurran, A.E. (1988) Ecological diversity and its measurement. Chapman and Hall, London.

[8]   Kent, M. and Coker, P. (1992) Vegetation description and analysis. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

[9]   Okalebo, J.R., Gathna, K.W. and Woomer, P.L. (1993) Laboratory methods of soil and plant analysis. A working manual. Tropical Soil Biology and Fertility, UNESCOROSTA.

[10]   Bazzaz, E.A. (1991) Regeneration of tropical forests. Physiological responses of secondary species. In: Gomez-Pompa, A., Whitmore, T.C. and Halley, M., Eds., Rain Forest Regeneration and Management, Parthenon Publishing Group and UNESCO, Paris, 91-118.

[11]   Whitmore, T.C. (1991) Tropical rain forest dynamics and its implications for management. In: Gomez-Pompa, A., Whitmore, T.C. and Halley, M., Eds., Rain Forest Regeneration and Management, Parthenon Publishing Group and UNESCO, Paris, 67-90.

[12]   Beentje, H.J. (1994) Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

[13]   Uhl, C., Clark, K., Clark, H. and Murphy, P. (1981) Early plant succession after cutting and burning in the upper Rio Negro region of the Amazon Basin. Journal of Ecology, 69, 631-649.

[14]   Jama, M. (1991) Forest utilization by people living adjacent to West Mau, Southwestern Mau and Transmara Forest Reserves. KIFCON Report, Nairobi.

[15]   Pohjonen, V.M. (1991) Volume equations and volume tables of Juniferus procera in Ethiopia. Forest Ecology and Management, 44, 185-200.

[16]   Mouphalu, J.I. (2006) Tree species population dynamics in a secondary forest at Ile-Ife, Nigeria after a ground fire. African Journal of Ecology, 45, 62-71.

[17]   Connell, J.H. (1978) Diversity in tropical rainforests and coral reefs. Science, 199, 1302-1310.

[18]   Changui, P. (2000) Growth and yield models for uneven-aged stands: Past, present and future. Forest Ecology and Management, 132, 259-279.

[19]   Korgaard, S. (1992) An analysis of growth parameters and timber yield prediction based on research plots in the permanent forest estate Sarawak, Malaysia. The Council for Development Research, Copenhagen.

[20]   Valbuena, I. and Trabad, L. (2001) Contribution of soil seedbank to post fire recovery of a heathland. Plant Ecology, 152, 175-183.

[21]   Osumi, K. and Sakurai, S. (1997) The seedling emergence of Betula maximowiczianz following human disturbances and the role of buried seeds. Forest Ecology and Management, 93, 235-243.

[22]   Karachi, M., Giathi, G. and Muchiri, N.M. (2006) Factors influencing the natural regeneration of Polyscias kikuyensis (Summeerh) in Nyamweru forest-Kikuyu escarpment, Kenya. African Journal of Ecology, 45, 242-248.

[23]   Mcgee, A. and Feller, M.C. (1993) Seed banks of the forested and disturbed soils in the Southwestern British Colombia. Canadian Journal of Botany, 71, 1574-1583.

[24]   Dagar, J.C., Mongia, A.D. and Singh, N.T. (1995) Degradation of tropical rain forest soils upon replacement with plantation and arable crops in Andaman and Nicobar. Tropical Ecology, 56, 89-101.

[25]   Islam, K.R. and Well, R.R. (2000) Land-use effects on soil quality in a tropical forest ecosystem of Bangladesh. Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 79, 9-16.

[26]   Rhodes, C.C. (1997) Single tree influences on soil properties in agroforestry: Lessons from natural forest and savanna ecosystems. Agroforestry Systems, 35, 71-94.

[27]   Federer, C.A., Hornbeck, J.W., Triton, L.M., Martin, C. W., Pierce, R.S. and Smith, C.T. (1989) Long-term depletion of calcium and other nutrients in Eastern US forests. Environmental Management, 13, 593-601.