Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest
At 5,199 m, Mount Kenya is the second highest peak in Africa. It is an ancient extinct volcano, which during its period of activity (3.1-2.6 million years ago) is thought to have risen to 6,500 m. There are 12 remnant glaciers on the mountain, all receding rapidly, and four secondary peaks that sit at the head of the U-shaped glacial valleys. With its rugged glacier-clad summits and forested middle slopes, Mount Kenya is one of the most impressive landscapes in East Africa. The evolution and ecology of its afro-alpine flora provide an outstanding example of ecological and biological processes. Through the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserve, the property also incorporates lower lying scenic foothills and arid habitats of high biodiversity, situated in the ecological transition zone between the mountain ecosystem and the semi-arid savanna grasslands. The area also lies within the traditional migrating route of the African elephant population. © UNESCO
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
Click the + and - signs to expand or collapse full accounts of information under each topic. You can also view the entire list of information by clicking Expand all on the top left.
Description of values
Spectacular mountain scenery
Diversity of evolving habitats
The forested slopes at elevations of 2,000 to 2,400 m (which lie outside the World Heritage Site but serve as a de facto ‘buffer zone’) have been significantly degraded through (i) conversion to forestry plantations, (ii) cultivation (which may be allowed on a rotational basis as a way of establishing forestry plantations) and (iii) land excision to satisfy growing land hunger (25 km2 at Ragati, Hombe and Sirimon were excised in 2001, IBA Factsheet, 2012)). Such degradation reduces the functioning and ecological resilience of the entire ecosystem (Gathaara, 1999). Other significant threats in the forest zones (outside the World Heritage Site) include illegal grazing, charcoal production, illegal water abstraction and the spread of invasive exotic plants (GMP, 2010). Cannabis plantations have also resurged after having effectively been suppressed thanks to aerial patrolling and now require attention again. (Report on the Mount Kenya National Park & Natural Forest Stakeholders Meeting, September 2013).
Most of the threats mentioned earlier have received considerable management attention and are incorporated into the overall management plan.
Although the Site has a high degree of natural protection against human influence on account of its remote and inhospitable location at the very top of the mountain, a higher level of management intervention could improve its protection. The World Heritage Site (approximately 1,420 km2; UNEP-WCMC, 2012) is not managed as a discrete unit, falling within the much broader Mount Kenya Ecosystem (MKE) management unit (which covers an area about twice the size, and includes adjacent natural forest and forestry plantations connected via a narrow corridor to a low-lying savanna wildlife conservancy; GMP, 2010-20).
4.Contribution to the local economy
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||USAID||Forest Restoration and Rangeland Management Project was formerly involved in forest rehabilitation and assisted management planning (Mission Report, 2008)|
|2||EU-funded||Community Environment Facility has supported community-based environmental projects throughout the Mount Kenya region|
|3||UNDP||Community Management of Protected Areas (COMPACT) project provided small grants for ‘buffer zone’ forest rehabilitation from 2001-4 (Mission Report, 2008; UNEP-WCMC, 2012)|
|4||Mount Kenya Trust||Support to KWS/KFS in-kind and through donor funds. This involves joint surveillance programmes on anti-poaching, fencing, education and awareness and management support|
|5||GEF Funded||Mount Kenya East Pilot Project for Natural Resources Management (2007-2012) has been involved in fencing, rehabilitation of degraded forest, KWS institutional support and other activities in the forest lands of the ‘buffer zone’ (Mission Report, 2008)|
BirdLife International (2017) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Mount Kenya. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org.
Gichuhi, M.W. (2015) Assessing the Role of Wildlife Management and Governance in Conservation Areas in Kenya. .
IUCN and UNESCO (2008) Reactive Monitoring Mission report Mount Kenya World Heritage Site (Kenya). Gland, Switzerland and Paris, France: IUCN and UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
Kenya (2011) Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya). .
Kenya (2013) Report of the State Party to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya).
Kenya Wildlife Service (1999) Aerial Survey of the Destruction of Mt Kenya, Imenti and Ngare Ndare Forest Reserves. .
Kenya Wildlife Service / Kenya Forest Service (2010) Mount Kenya Ecosystem Management Plan, 2010-2020.
Report on the Mount Kenya National Park & Natural Forest Stakeholders Meeting, September 2013
UNEP-WCMC. (2012). Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest (Kenya). UNEP-WCMC World Heritage Information Sheets. Cambridge, UK: UNEP-WCMC.
UNESCO (2011) Report on the State of Conservation of Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. .
UNESCO (2013) Report on the State of Conservation of Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest. State of Conservation Information System of the World Heritage Centre. .
Van den Akker, M.L. (2016). Monument of Nature? An Ethnography of the World Heritage of Mt. Kenya.
World Heritage Committee (2013) Decision 37 COM 8B.9 Mount Kenya National Park/Natural Forest Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (Kenya).