Forest restoration – saving East Africa’s rare trees

Brackenhurst Botanic Garden, situated just outside of Nairobi in Kenya, has restored 40 hectares of indigenous forest. Over 100 rare East African trees have been planted in the restored forest, providing a safe site for these species of conservation concern.

Brackenhurst Botanic Garden is situated in Limuru, Kenya. The forest in the region was once so extensive that it hosted leopard, buffalo and elephant. Less than 2% of original forest remained before restoration work began at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden, with the rest mostly transformed into tea and eucalyptus plantations.

40 hectares of forest has now been replanted at Brackenhurst. Since planting work began in the year 2000, the exotic tree plantations have been replaced with native forest that now reaches 30-foot tall, made up of lianas, orchids and a species-rich understory.

Conservation of threatened trees is a strong focus of the restoration project. Collection of seeds, propagation efforts in the nursery, and subsequent planting in the restored forest at Brackenhurst is providing conservation for some of East Africa’s rarest trees.

Lillian, a forest worker in Limaru, Kenya, holds plants in a nursery of native tree species including those that have never been propagated before. Forest workers remove invasive trees and plant species and replant a native forest in its place. Taken as part of a documentation of the Ecological Restoration Alliance, a group of botanic gardens restoring 100 damaged habitats on six continents, this story was shot in Kenya. Here thousands of acres of forest were removed in the early 1900's for the production of mono culture crops of tea and the eucalyptus used to dry it. In just 12 years the NGO Plants for Life has restored a eucalyptus plantation into a thriving forest with over 150 bird species, a wide range of mammals and hundreds of rare and endangered tree species. Brackenhurst, Near Limaru. Kenya.

Lillian, a forest worker in Limaru, Kenya, holds plants in a nursery of native tree species, Brackenhurst. Credit: Barney Wilczak

Since planting efforts began in 2000, over 100 rare trees have been incorporated in the restored forest at Brackenhurst, including globally threatened species. Collection, propagation and planting efforts are generating increased knowledge about these species, which is vital for their survival as habitat destruction continues.

The restored forest is now home to over 170 species of birds, 120 species of butterfly, as well as fruit bats. The project also provides livelihood opportunities in an area of high unemployment, by training and employing local people.

GTC provides support to Brackenhurst by helping the garden to establish links with funders, government and NGOs, with the aim to scale up the valuable conservation and restoration work of this institution.


pouteria_adolfi-friedericii_seeds small size for website

Seeds of Pouteria adolfi-friederici. Credit: Barney Wilczak.

Did you know?

Over 17,500 trees are threatened with extinction – that’s more than double the total
number of globally threatened mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians.