The following is the established format for referencing this article:Habel, J. C., W. Ulrich, M. Rieckmann, H. Shauri, and J. M. Nzau. 2022. Lack of benefit sharing undermines support for nature conservation in an Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. Ecology and Society 27(4):3.
ABSTRACTSuccessful forest conservation in the tropics depends on various biophysical, socioeconomic, cultural, and political factors. Researchers, environmental practitioners, and local people recognize the need to resolve longstanding systemic weaknesses in environmental governance institutions, to make mainstream environmental policy and action, and to find locally informed and adaptive conservation measures. This also applies to the preservation of cloud-forest fragments of the Taita Hills in southern Kenya, a section of the Afromontane biodiversity hotspot. These forest remnants host many endemic and endangered plant and animal species, and suffer under deforestation and forest degradation. We conducted structured surveys with 300 smallholder farmers living around three forest fragments in the Taita Hills. Our results indicate a lack of knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem functions among local people. We found an inverse relationship between the level of formal education and practical environmental knowledge, and a bias toward the protection of plant species, because of their provisional ecosystem services, as opposed to the protection of wild animals, because they are mainly associated with human-wildlife conflicts and large-scale tourism. Unresolved human-wildlife conflicts and missing benefit sharing from tourism has created an anti-conservation attitude. Our study underlines that nature conservation is only feasible if the local people benefit from it in the medium and long terms, and if the added value of conservation for high human-livelihood quality is clearly communicated.
Conservation of tropical forests in Africa faces a myriad of challenges (Hansen et al. 2020), such as climate change (Hemp 2009), weak governance structures (Agrawal 2007), communication gaps between institutions and people (Habel et al. 2020), and competing interests, such as demands for forest products for the local and global markets (Agrawal et al. 2008). Forests and woodland are neglected in conservation in comparison with African savannahs and bushlands, which are of high relevance for tourism (Riggio et al. 2019). The African continent loses 3.9 million hectares of natural forest each year (FAO 2020). This contributes to increasing habitat fragmentation of the remaining forest habitats (Fahrig 2003, Hansen et al. 2020) and to altered habitat quality (Hemp 2009), with negative effects on biodiversity persistence (Brooks et al. 1998, Burgess et al. 2007), reduced ecosystem functions, and subsequently decreasing human-livelihood quality (Agrawal 2007, Büscher and Whande 2007).
There have been efforts toward forest conservation and restoration by different actors with varying degrees of success (Atela et al. 2015, Abiyu et al. 2016, Douh et al. 2018). Effective implementation of forest conservation in both gazetted and community forests largely depends on the attitudes and good will of the local people (Andersson et al. 2007, Ribot et al. 2010, Nzau et al. 2020). People who regard themselves as conservation beneficiaries are more likely to adopt positive conservation behavior, such as sustainable extraction of firewood, as opposed to people who feel disadvantaged by nature conservation measures (Holmes and Adamowicz 2003, Vodouhê et al. 2010). However, positive perceptions and attitudes do not necessarily lead to positive conservation behavior (Waylen et al. 2009). Attitudes toward conservation also depend on the level of formal education and practical environmental knowledge (Sternberg et al. 2001, Reyes-García et al. 2009, Mawere 2015), gender dynamics (Vodouhê et al. 2010), benefit-sharing arrangements (Mutanga et al. 2015), disadvantages for humans caused by human-wildlife conflicts (Githiru 2007, Kamau and Sluyter 2018, Ceauşu et al. 2019, Killion et al. 2020), degree of poverty, and land available for subsistence farming (Nzau et al. 2020). Additionally, communication barriers and power imbalances between local people and environmental management authorities undermine concerted efforts for nature conservation (Weichselgartner and Kasperson 2009).
The Taita Hills represent an area where cloud forests have been largely destroyed over the past several decades, and current conservation efforts are showing only modest success. The Taita Hills were originally covered with cloud forest, which still represents a suitable habitat for many endemic plant and animal species that occur restricted to these mountains (Burgess et al. 2007, Maeda 2011). Thus, the Taita Hills are classified as an Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot (Mittermeier et al. 2011). This mountain range rises up to 2600 m above sea level and provides cool and humid climatic conditions (Jaetzold et al. 2012), suitable preconditions for forestry and smallholder farming (Maeda 2011, Njeru 2016, Njeru et al. 2017). A major proportion of cloud forest has been transformed into exotic tree plantations and agricultural land during the past decades (Newmark 1998, Githiru and Lens 2007, Pellikka et al. 2009, Teucher et al. 2020). Furthermore, political and social factors, particularly land reforms and population growth, have caused significant losses of natural vegetation (Hohenthal et al. 2015). Today, few cloud-forest remnants exist (Aerts et al. 2011), and still harbor exceptional habitats for many species (Githiru and Lens 2007, Aerts et al. 2011). There have been various conservation and restoration campaigns that have so far borne only marginal success (Pellikka et al. 2009).
In this study we conducted surveys with smallholder farmers living along forest fragments. With these questionnaires we obtained basic information about education and income, as well as details about the knowledge of nature and biodiversity, especially about the value of forests for people. Furthermore, these questionnaires were used to find out the way of communication with the relevant institution for forest and resource management. Based on the obtained results we will answer the following questions: What kind of attitudes do the local people have toward the protection of plants and animals? How do people perceive the usefulness of the different channels of environmental communication? What are the possible conservation strategies in the light of the current ecological and economic situation in the Taita Hills?
MATERIAL AND METHODS
We conducted 300 structured questionnaires around the forest fragments Fururu, Susu, and Chawia (Fig. 1). Answers were recorded with the Open Data Kit (ODK) technology on Android. Participants for the structured questionnaire were selected using convenience sampling (Dörnyei and Griffee 2007). The criteria for convenience sampling include geographical proximity, availability of participants at the given time, and their willingness to participate (Dörnyei and Griffee 2007). In our case, we targeted all available households within a 5-km radius around the three forest fragments. Each survey was answered by only one adult member (> 18 years old) of a single household. A household was defined as all those people who cook and eat together every evening. The representative person of the household, who answered the questions of the questionnaire, was appointed by the rest of the adult family members. The respondents consisted of 52.3% women and 47.7% men, and represented the age classes 21 to 30 years (16.3%), 31 to 40 (19.3%), 41 to 50 (25.7%), and > 50 (38.7%; Table 1). On average, a household consisted of four people. The completion of one questionnaire took about 60 minutes. Data collection was performed during July and August in 2018.
The initial version of the structured questionnaire was designed in English and subsequently translated into Kiswahili. The questions were asked by J. M. N. or another Kenyan, who both natively speak Swahili. All answers were re-translated again from Swahili into English, all by J. M. N. The questionnaire was divided into six thematic sections, with 43 questions in total; 17 questions were open-ended. The first section of the questionnaire captured basic social and demographic data of participants. The second section explored the existence and applicability of local ecological knowledge on forest conservation. The third section included questions on land use and land tenure. The fourth section contained questions on awareness of and perceptions toward biodiversity and conservation. The fifth section was on willingness to apply sustainable practices in land management. The sixth section inquired into everyday habits and behavior. The second and sixth sections were largely adapted from Shepheard-Walwyn (2014). The complete structured questionnaire is provided as Appendix 1.
For the present analyses we considered 40 out of the 58 single questions received. We used gender, age, education, and source of information as predictors of environmental awareness in our statistical analyses (Table 1). We combined the answers concerning knowledge about occurrences of animals and plants (survey questions 22 and 23) and of perceived soil erosion, fertility, and non-indigenous plant species (question 29), and derived a simple but effective index of environmental awareness, based on the knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and people’s agreement in protecting species and ecosystems:
In this equation, At, Pt, Ae, and Pe refer to the second section of questions and denote the mentioning of endangered (t) and endemic (e) animals A and plants P coded with 1 (yes) and 0 (no). SE, SF, and NT denote the strength of agreement (1 = strong disagreement, 5 = strong agreement) to the question of whether soil erosion (SE), soil fertility (SF), and use of non-indigenous trees (NT) are problems in Kenya (factors asked for in the third section of questions). The present adjustment makes EA to range between 0 (lack of awareness) and 1 (strong awareness).
We further assessed the reasons why participants supported the protection of plants and animals (survey question 24). We grouped the answers given into six values: provisional ecosystem services, traditional value, future generations, aesthetics, tourism, and nature conservation. We analyzed the available sources of information for environmental laws, rules, and regulations that were available to local people (question 25), and how the local people rated the usefulness of the environmental information they got from these sources (question 26). We used nested ANOVA and contingency table analysis as implemented in Statistica 12.0 to infer differences of participants with respect to gender, age, education, and source of information.
Finally, we performed two strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analyses (SWOT; e.g., Scolozzi et al. 2014, Bull et al. 2015) to discuss possible conservation strategies in light of the current ecological and economic situations. For this task we searched the literature to obtain the latest information on the conservation status and ecological functioning of the study region, as well as on current and envisioned changes in land use. From these sources we compiled the most important issues mentioned with regard to the current states of biodiversity, usage, and forest conservation.
Attitudes of the local people toward nature conservation
Overall > 60% of participants recorded high levels of environmental awareness, which did not significantly differ between men and women: p(F1299) > 0.5 (A, Fig. 2; Table 2). However, women scored lower in all age classes (B, Fig. 2) with lower educational levels when compared to men (C, Fig. 2). Awareness was weakly related to age class: p(F1,299) = 0.04 (Table 2). However, awareness was different between participants of different educational levels: p(F1,299) < 0.01 (Table 2). Interestingly, men of intermediate education scored highest in environmental awareness, whereas with women no clear pattern emerged (C, Fig. 2).
Irrespective of education, most participants were unable to mention any endemic (A, Fig. 3) or endangered (C, Fig. 3) plant or animal species. Participants with no or only primary education mentioned more endemic and endangered plants than participants of secondary or higher education: p(F1,298) = 0.01 (Fig. 3). However, only a moderate difference appeared with respect to animals: p(F1,298) = 0.06 (Fig. 3). In total, our data support significant gender differences for the awareness to protect plants, with higher awareness in women than men, whereas no such differences came up with respect to animal protection (Table 3, Fig. 4).
The recurring reasons to protect plants and animals were related to provisional ecosystem services, tourism, and nature conservation. Mentioning of these reasons did not significantly differ between age classes: p(F3,296) > 0.05 (B, Fig. 4). Tourism was the dominating reason with respect to animals, whereas provisional ecosystem services were most often mentioned with respect to plants (B, Fig. 4), irrespective of the level of education (C, Fig. 4). In contrast, the level of education influenced the way local populations assessed plant and animal protection (C, Fig. 4). Participants with lower education significantly pointed more often to tourism with respect to plant protection than participants with at least a secondary education: p(F3,296) < 0.01 (C, Fig. 4).
Use of different channels of environmental communication
Participants clearly differentiated between sources of information on environmental conservation with no significant gender differences (A, Fig. 5). Mass media and official information as well as communications from local chiefs were well received (A, Fig. 5), whereas internet and NGO information was not rated as useful (A, Fig. 5). Older people particularly rated information from the internet as not useful (B, Fig. 5). Interestingly, this age group, being least educated (Table 1; C, Fig. 5), was most sceptical of all external information sources (B, Fig. 5). Usefulness of mass-media information increased whereas the usefulness of internet information decreased with increasing level of education, respectively (Fig. 5).
Possible conservation strategies
Our first SWOT analysis on the forest status highlighted the following strengths: that forest patches provide valuable habitats for endangered plant and animal species, seed banks, various ecosystem functions, and act as important water catchment. As weaknesses we identified insecure land tenure; biodiversity homogenization through the planting of exotic trees; small and isolated forest patches; and lack of implementation of land-use and forest management. Potential opportunities might be green tourism, mobilizing international funding, ethical biodiversity harvesting, ecosystem services provisioning, and the leasing of land for conservation purposes. Threats were demand of land for conservation; ongoing planting of exotic trees; ongoing deforestation of forest patches; demand for firewood and timber; fires; farming along rivers and in swamps; and biodiversity loss (Table 4).
In our second SWOT analysis, we focused on forest conservation, and identified the following strengths: high willingness to conserve and restore forest; high level of environmental awareness; existence of a community forest association; economic benefits through conservation; and international investment in biodiversity hotspots. We identified the following weaknesses: in-trust toward forest conservation; weak coordination of activities; distrust toward NGOs; loss of environmental knowledge; and lack of financial resources in conservation. Potential opportunities were bottom-up pressure, mobiliziation of funding, and international visibility. Main threats were agricultural intensification, historical injustices, corruption, lack of land management, and the financial crisis (B, Table 4).
Environmental awareness of people: the interplay among education, age, and sex
We found a high level of environmental awareness among the local people in the Taita Hills when compared with other studies conducted in other regions of Kenya based on identical approaches, such as along riparian forests in the semiarid region of southeast Kenya, and around Arabuko Sokoke coastal forest in the south of Kenya (Nzau et al. 2020). We found a negative relationship between formal education and the knowledge of endemic and endangered animal and plant species. Participants with no or only primary education significantly mentioned more endemic and endangered plant species than participants possessing at least secondary school education and higher education. Various explanations for this trend are crucial and not mutually exclusive. First, people with no formal education have a higher likelihood of relying directly on nature, especially for provisioning ecosystem services such as food, medicine, firewood, and building materials (Wangai et al. 2016), as well as for cultural values (Berkes 2012), than people with at least secondary or higher education, who are likely to have waged income (Manda and Sen 2004) and possess alternate spiritual values (Owuor 2007). Second, participants who have at least secondary education are likely to have left their localities to attend boarding schools for extensive time periods, which is the norm of the schooling system in Kenya (Mucherah 2006). It takes four years to complete secondary education and at least four years to complete higher education in the current school curriculum in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Education (https://www.education.go.ke/). In consequence, people with higher formal education are likely to possess more theoretical environmental knowledge acquired from the classroom than practical environmental knowledge connected to their immediate ecosystem (Sternberg et al. 2001, Reyes-García et al. 2009). Third, the sharp decline of biodiversity in the remaining forest fragments (Teucher et al. 2020) could contribute to an increased disconnect between people and nature (Andersson et al. 2007). The loss of practical environmental knowledge by the Taita people limits their confidence to negotiate for equitable resource management, making them subservient to bureaucratic knowledge systems, which in turn enhances structural power imbalances (Hohenthal 2018). These findings on the trade-offs between formal education and local environmental knowledge underscore the global call for integration of local environmental knowledge in formal school curricula (Müller and Tippins 2010, McCarter and Gavin 2011, Kim and Dionne 2014, Abah et al. 2015, Mawere 2015), but also the need for real world–related and action-oriented forms of environmental education (UNESCO 2017, Rieckmann 2018).
We found that men of intermediate education scored highest in environmental awareness. The school-labor dynamics in Kenya offer important clues to this finding, whereby persons with at least primary education and no further tertiary training are less likely to be absorbed into the labor market (Manda 2004) translating to minimalized probability for out-migration (Ginsburg 2016). Men with average formal education therefore possess both theoretical (i.e., learned in the school setting) and practical environmental knowledge acquired in daily livelihood interactions with the local ecosystems (Sternberg et al. 2001, Owuor 2007, Reyes-García et al. 2010). On the other hand, women with intermediate education are likely to out-migrate for casual labor in the domestic sector (Suda 2002) or marriage (Ginsburg 2016), especially given the limited prospects of inheriting ancestral land (Luke and Munshi 2006, Djurfeldt 2020). The association between formal schooling and local environmental knowledge is complex (UNESCO 2009), and often shows contrasting coherences (Reyes-García et al. 2010). Growing concerns across the African continent show that the inception of academic education systems undermined the pathways for local knowledge transmission (Sternberg et al. 2001, World Bank 2003, Owuor 2007).
Attitudes toward wildlife: lacking compensation and benefit sharing
Most respondents expressed little interest in protecting wildlife, favoring the protection of plants over wild animals. Women showed the least support for protecting wild animals. This bias may be understood in the context of the ecosystem benefits provided by plants, whereas wildlife are perceived to be of less tangible benefits to the local people. For instance, diet preferences had significantly shifted from bushmeat to present-day domesticated meat sources (Icheria 2019). The inclination to protect plant species over wild animals may further be understood in the context of two factors. First, the long-standing and unresolved human-wildlife conflicts in this region (Hohenthal et al. 2018, Kamau and Sluyter 2018, Rülke et al. 2020, Siljander et al. 2020) led to an aversion to wild animals. This is made clear by women’s indication that the constant scaring away of monkeys is a burden, and some fires set in the remaining forest fragments were for the purpose of chasing away or eliminating monkeys (Appendix 2). Second, the absence of equitable compensation for damage caused by wildlife, and lacking benefit-sharing arrangements from wildlife conservation and tourism worsen this negative attitude toward wild animals (Atela et al. 2015, Chomba et al. 2016; Appendix 2).
Sharing in the gains from conserving protected habitats is a basic requirement for effective conservation. Numerous studies have shown that the integration of the local population into local tourism is essential to establish a long-term marketing and conservation strategy. The Taita Hills clearly show the attitudes toward the last forest fragments that develop when local people do not benefit from tourism. Approximately 62% of the Taita-Taveta County, home of the Taita people, is covered by Tsavo National Park, and another 24% of the land by private ranches and large-scale sisal plantations. Only 11% of the land remained for smallholder farming (Njogu and Dietz 2006). These land-use dynamics and the arising resource use and management contentions (Njogu 2004, Hohenthal 2018) contribute to an inverse relationship between wildlife conservation and human-livelihood needs (Githiru 2007, Hohenthal et al. 2018). Our findings echo the association of wildlife conservation to tourism (Rülke et al. 2020) and unmask reluctance toward forest conservation action that is conceived in the fear of losing the remaining arable land to wildlife conservation (Atela et al. 2015).
Communication gaps: the role of elders and participation
We found a twofold communication anomaly in the Taita Hills. First, the local people find that information from governmental and non-governmental agencies is not useful, with older people being sceptical of all external information sources. This might be because older people are less educated, and in general show less positive attitudes toward nature conservation (Table 1). However, older people are extremely critical to the acceptance of conservation, and the general attitude toward the remaining forest habitats. Older people play a pivotal role in the social system in Kenyan communities. Extensive research acknowledges the role of elders in Africa as custodians of local ecological knowledge who are thereby likely to possess practical environmental knowledge (Shizha 2006, Owuor 2007, Berkes 2012). Second, the inclusion of local people in forest governance and decision making is ambiguous and asymmetrical. This is in line with findings from other studies conducted in the Taita Hills (Hohenthal 2018, Rülke et al. 2020, Teucher et al. 2020). The loss of practical environmental knowledge combined with resource-appropriation injustices and the reluctance of Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) to address human-wildlife conflicts in the Taita Hills set a backdrop for mistrust and structural power imbalances between the local people and environmental management authorities (Githiru 2007, Hohenthal 2018). As a result, environmental communication does not proceed very efficiently (Holmes and Adamowicz 2003, Weichselgartner and Kasperson 2009). This situation becomes particularly clear when taking a closer look at and analyzing the role of Community Forest Associations (CFA) in the Taita Hills. The Forests Act (Government of Kenya 2005) and the Forest Conservation and Management Act (Government of Kenya 2016) provide a formal legal framework for local communities to participate in resource management through CFAs (Teucher et al. 2020). Representative members of CFAs are ideally chosen by the local communities through a democratic process to mediate resource use and benefit sharing. However, we found that CFAs in the Taita Hills lack the skills and financial resources to equitably participate in forest management (interviews 2, 7, and 8, Appendix 2). This lack of capacity reduces the engagement of local people in conservation dialogue to only distant approvers (Kendal and Ford 2017), whose value is to rubberstamp decisions from various governmental and non-governmental organizations. This creates an illusion of active inclusion of local communities (Nzau et al. 2020).
Taita Hills: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
In our SWOT analyses (Table 4) we identified various strengths. The remaining forest fragments still host many endemic and endangered plant and animal species (Githiru and Lens 2007) and are important for carbon sequestration (Njeru 2016, Njeru et al. 2017). The cloud forests act as water catchments (Kivivouri et al. 2013, Mkaya 2013) and provide indigenous seed banks and medicinal plants, among other ecosystem services (Seifert et al. 2022). On the other hand, insecure land tenure (Maeda et al. 2010) and rapidly declining plot sizes per capita (Nzau et al. 2018) contribute to mismanagement of natural resources across the Taita Hills. The expansion of exotic trees throughout the forest and across farms (Omoro et al. 2010) causes biodiversity homogenization, which has a negative impact on habitat quality and ecosystem functions (Pellikka et al. 2009). Most forest remnants are too small to guarantee long-term persistence of biodiversity (Ulrich et al. 2016, Apfelbeck et al. 2019). Land-use and forest management plans largely do not exist or are only poorly implemented (Teucher et al. 2020). There are still significant threats to be considered such as the potential for legal cases on land ownership especially with the recent ambitions by conservation actors to pursue fragment connectivity (Wagura 2018). The monodominance of planted non-native tree species, continuing illegal deforestation and selective logging (Aerts et al. 2011), and increased demand for firewood resulting in cutting trees and the collection of deadwood (Loader et al. 2009) could pose unintended consequences on already compromised ecosystem health (Pellikka et al. 2009), and which have been connected to drying up of water sources (Kivivuori 2013, Hohenthal 2018). Moreover, increased drought frequencies (Boitt et al. 2015), chronic forest fires, and the general poor enforcement of riparian protection rules exacerbate the declining quality of the Taita Hills. This has a negative impact on biodiversity (Ulrich et al. 2016) and ecosystem functions (Seifert et al. 2022) in the long run. Regardless of these weaknesses and threats, there exist various potential opportunities for positive development in the future, for example, supporting and expanding green tourism in the region (Jarvis et al. 2010), mobilizing international funding for the preservation of global biodiversity hotspots (Emerton et al. 2006), as well as ethical biodiversity harvesting (Engels et al. 2011) and ecosystem service contracting (Chomba et al. 2017, Githiru and Njambuya 2019).
In our second SWOT analysis we focused on the process of change in conservation action for the Taita Hills cloud forests (B, Table 4). There exists high awareness and willingness among the local people to conserve and restore the cloud forests of the Taita Hills as an important water tower (Kivivuori 2013, Hohenthal et al. 2018). The National Forest Act provides a legal background for Community Forest Associations (CFAs; Government of Kenya 2005, Teucher et al. 2020), through which the local people can organize to sustainably take opportunity of the economic benefits, including tree planting, beekeeping, and butterfly farming. These organizations, if properly executed, can tap into the international interest in the conservation of tropical forest biodiversity hotspots (Emerton et al. 2006), in order to upscale benefits and human-environment positive outcomes. However, conservationists ought to be attentive to the following weaknesses: the pervasive mistrust or apathy toward forest conservation because of lack of short-term economic benefits (Holmes and Adamowicz 2003), weak coordination among conservation organizations, as well as distrust toward non-governmental developmental agencies by the local people (Kendal and Ford 2017). This high level of mistrust might also arise from the history of the people in the Taita Hills. The people living in the Taita Hills have much experience in negotiating natural resource rights and in accommodating the historically chronicled waves of newcomers into the area (Prins 1952). This situation led to increased pressure on available land, to uncertainties in the property rights of land, and to a high level of mistrust, among other things toward conservation activities.
The loss of practical environmental knowledge among the local people and insufficient conservation financing further increase the fragility of environmental conservation in the Taita Hills cloud forests. Notwithstanding these complexities, there are potential opportunities for positive change such as increasing bottom-up pressure for forest conservation driven by increasing water scarcity, which can be strengthened through the mobilization for international and private funding for nature conservation, and increasing international visibility of local conservation achievements through environmental communication. There are, however, threats to be considered, such as the ongoing agricultural intensifications on riparian areas that cause degradation and impair important migratory routes for the fauna occurring around the Taita Hills forest fragments. The historical injustices and marginalization in resource management and benefit-sharing accompanied by corruption and lack of transparency in resource management, uncontrolled urbanization (Mkaya 2013), rapid land use change (Teucher et al. 2020), and general financial crises (Kavousi et al. 2020) further complicate the urgent restoration of the Taita Hills cloud forest.
Our study shows that the systematic reluctance to address perceived historical injustices in benefit-sharing and unequal resource management governance recreates a subtle, yet powerful, anti-conservation narrative, reinforces distrust for environmental management agencies, and forges a polarizing environment for meaningful conservation action. As long as local organizations have a very low capacity to act, their relevance tends to be low, and so does their acceptance by the local population. The current situation makes any efficient protection of the last cloud-forest patches of Taita Hills highly difficult.
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We are grateful to Lozi Maraga, Anna Nies, Althea Dyer-Preibusch, Slas Neguse, Timothy Musa, and Tobias Bendzko for field assistance. We thank Mike Teucher for providing Figure 1. We thank the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for providing a PhD fellowship to J. M. N., and for funding data collection in the framework of the DAAD Quality Network Biodiversity Kenya. We thank two anonymous referees for constructive comments on a first version of this article.
All data are available as supplementary electronic appendices.
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Table 1. Summary statistics of participants with respect to gender, age class (18-29, 30-39, 40-49, > 50 years), and education (None, Primary school, Secondary school, Higher education).
Table 2. Results of two nested ANOVAs with age, education, and teaching nested within gender as categorical predictors and the conservation awareness score as response variable. Given are degrees of freedom (df), Wald statistics, and parametric significances.
Table 3. Contingency table c2 tests to detect differences in the answers with respect to gender, age group, and education level with respect to basic questions on nature conservation. Numbers of endangered and endemic animals and plants refer to the numbers of taxa mentioned.
|χ2 (df=1)||p||χ2 (df=3)||p||χ2 (df=3)||p|
|Should plants be protected||0.82||0.36||1.14||0.70||4.90||0.18|
|Should animals be protected||11.11||< 0.001||14.32||< 0.01||33.55||< 0.001|
|Number of endemic plants||0.01||0.91||10.67||0.01||2.43||0.49|
|Number of endemic animals||3.31||0.01||2.72||0.44||10.86||0.01|
|Number of endangered plants||0.02||0.89||11.74||< 0.01||10.92||0.01|
|Number of endangered animals||15.99||< 0.001||4.74||0.22||2.94||0.40|
Table 4. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis of the current state of East African natural forest fragments.
| High endemic and endangered biodiversity (Githiru and Lens 2007);
High level of carbon sequestration (Glenday 2006);
High degree of water retention (Nicol et al. 2015);
Tourist attraction (Mittermeier et al. 2011);
Indigenous tree nursery and bee keeping (Himberg et al. 2009);
| Insecure land tenure due to the land inheritance culture (Maeda et al. 2010);
Non-native species and diversity homogenisation (Omoro et al. 2010);
Too small forest remnants causing instable populations and vulnerable food web structures (Apfelbeck et al. 2019);
Lack of land use and forest management plans (Teucher et al. 2020);
Lack of proper biodiversity monitoring schemes;
| Increasing green tourism (Jarvis et al. 2010);
International funding for hot spot conservation (Emerton et al. 2006);
Potential funding for ethical genetic harvesting (Engels et al. 2011) ;
Future ecosystem service contracting (Githiru and Njambuya 2019);
Leasing land to advance fragment connectivity (Githiru and Njambuya 2019);
| Legal cases on land ownership (Wagura 2018);
Monodominance by planted non-native tree species (Pellikka et al. 2009);
Ongoing illegal deforestation and selective logging (Teucher et al. 2020);
Increasing demand for firewood (Loader et al. 2009);
Increasing frequency of drought (Boitt et al. 2015);
Chronic forest fires (Himberg et al. 2009);
Poor enforcement of riparian protection rules (Hohenthal et al. 2018);
Breakdown of food web structures (Ulrich et al. 2016);
| High willingness of the local people to restore the forest fragments as water towers (Hohenthal et al. 2018);
High local environmental awareness (out study);
Active Community Forest Associations (CFAs; Wekesa et al. 2021);
International interest in tropical biodiversity conservation (Emerton et al. 2006);
Economic benefits on conserving natural forests (Himberg et al. 2009) ;
| Distrust or apathy towards forest conservation due to lack of short-term economic benefits (Holmes 2003);
Weak coordination among conservation organisations (our study);
Distrust of local people against NGOs (Kendal and Ford 2017);
Loss of practical environmental knowledge (Rogo and Oguge 2000);
Insufficient conservation financing (our study);
| Bottom-up pressure for forest conservation to restore water tower (Hohenthal et al. 2018);
International funding of local conservation (McFarland and Ployhart 2015);
Private funding of nature sanctuaries (McFarland and Ployhart 2015);
International visibility of local conservation achievements (Mittermeier et al. 2011);
| Ongoing agricultural intensification on riparian areas (Teucher et al. 2020);
Historical injustices and marginalisation in resource management and benefit-sharing (Hohenthal et al. 2018);
Corruption and lack of transparency (our study);
Uncontrolled urbanisation and land use change (Mkaya 2013);
Financial crises (Kavousi et al. 2020);