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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Using integrated modeling framework to evaluate the impact of human-induced land use/land cover change on carbon dynamics in Upper Ewaso Ngiro River Basin, Kenya

PI: Stephen Kiama (, Kenya Forestry Research Institute
U.S. Partner: Scott Goetz, The Woods Hole Research Center
Project Dates: October 2015-September 2018

Project Overview

The goal of the project is to strength monitoring and prediction of the dynamics of ecosystem services, primarily carbon and water balance in wooded and open grasslands. This research team’s contribution lies in advancing a scientifically and operationally robust methodological framework that will be able to quantitatively evaluate terrestrial carbon and water fluxes. Specifically, they will integrate complementary approaches, including ground-based observations, remotely sensed measurements, and modeling, combining their strengths with an aim of circumventing shortcomings of stand-alone approaches, as well as enhancing the predictive power of the integrated modeling framework. The project will involve testing the use of modern tools such as hyperspectral images or images captured by drones to improve spatial resolution of characterizing patterns of vegetation composition and functional traits. The researchers will study the use of such tools to support plot-level inventory needed to drive a Landsat-based geometrical-optical model for characterizing the vegetation structure. 

4-457. Kiama4-457 Kiama

Field-based Training on Topographical Mapping using Differential GPS Technology.

Preliminary study of root biomass density distribution.

This research will support the monitoring effort for long-term sustainability of arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs including grasslands) in Kenya, a critical element in advancing environmentally sustainable economic growth. In particular, the research will enhance understanding of the extent to which human-induced terrestrial disturbances modify the ecosystem services, primarily the dynamics of carbon and water fluxes. In addition, the research will improve methodologies for objectively identifying hotspot areas that are potentially vulnerable to changes in carbon and water fluxes. These focus areas will contribute to developing evidence-based tools that could be used to influence policy and legislation related to land-use management. Such an output should help the government to target interventions that will contribute to reducing economic and social losses from climate change and variability in potentially vulnerable areas. This will help in reversing the degradation trend in the ASALs and improve restoration of ecosystem functions. The research also aims to strengthen the Natural Resource Forum in the respective counties, a grouping that brings together government technical officers of the line ministries, departments, and agencies and representatives of civil society. Working with the Natural Resource Forum will facilitate engagement of a wider range of stakeholders and local communities, sensitizing them to the research findings and sharing educational materials. This effort will support effective education of local actors, improve management of natural resources, and ensure the restoration of ecosystem functions to support more sustainable resource use. 

Summary of Recent Activities

In this quarter ending March 2018, the PEER team and the FOREST 2020 Project, spearheaded by Kenya Forest Service (KFS) visited Laikipia, to identify additional sites (besides the two study areas - i.e., Mpala and Ilmotiok) that will be established as Permanent Sampling Plots (PSPs). Already, both Mpala and Ilmotiok study sites have been accommodated as PSPs and data will be fed into the FOREST 2020 Project.

The National Research Fund (NRF) supported KEFRI to build further on the work of NAS PEER Project. The two study sites (Mpala and Ilmotiok) will therefore be enjoined into the NRF project.

In the next 3-6 months, the PI plans on installing field equipment and instrument, in both Mpala and Ilmotiok area. They will monitor the run-off and stream discharge to continue during the wet season. They will also monitor soil moisture data, phenological data and energy balance data and conduct plant physiological measurements, detailed root biomass study and soil macro- and mesofauna.

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