Eastern Mount Kenya: Introduction
Mt. Kenya is the second highest mountain in Africa and is located in central Kenya. Its well-watered slopes provide critical high potential agricultural conditions in the predominately semi-arid nation, and the mid-slopes have been intensely farmed for many years. The mountain is surrounded by a semi-arid lowland plateau.
The project’s study site consists of the eastern slopes of Mt. Kenya and encompasses a steep ecological gradient from the glaciers on the mountaintop at 5,199 metres above mean sea level (AMSL) to dryland grasslands at 600 metres AMSL elevation. The site covers 11,670 km2, or approximately one third of an ETM+ Landsat satellite image.
The heterogeneity of the landscape of the site is extreme both between and within land use and cover classes. For example, the natural vegetation ranges from sparse tundra vegetation and afro-montane rainforest, to sparse grasslands in the lower elevation, dryland area.
The human managed landscape includes irrigated paddy rice, tea and tree plantations, coffee and maize farms and scattered fields of millet and sorghum within bush. Most of the landscape is heavily influenced and closely managed by humans.
Land managers include small-scale farmers whose farms are typically less than 2 hectares each, private wheat farms and sheep ranches of up to 300 hectares in size, large agricultural parastatals and parks and reserves managed by local and national governments.
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