2.1 Overview
Land is used for multiple human activities, such as agriculture, forestry and settlement. Land use choices have a wide range of e?ects on carbon storage, maintenance of ecosystems and biodiversity. Multiple di?erent policy objectives, at both national and international levels, are linked to land use and can significantly in?uence the impacts of land-use plans on both people and ecosystems. Climate change and biodiversity loss are currently two of the key global challenges people and ecosystems face. Land use changes directly impact on global biodiversity. In East Africa, land use changes have transformed natural ecosystems for example, into agricultural land, grazing lands, human settlements and development areas. This has led to loss and fragmentation of natural habitats, land degradation and remains the main driver of biodiversity loss . Research to date suggests that the types of species sensitive to land use change follows predictable patterns . As wild lands are converted to human land cover types, top-level
predators are often the first species to decline. These species have large home ranges, low net reproductive rates, and are often dangerous to humans and livestock . Hence, these species are persecuted by initial settlers within natural habitats and slow to recover. In North America, the widely distributed grizzly bear and the wolf have been extirpated in all but the few remaining wilderness areas. Lions and other top predators in sub-Saharan Africa are also negatively correlated with human density (Woodroffe and Ginsberg 1998).
2.1.1 Land use in Kenya
The major land uses include agriculture, forestry and other uses (pastoralism, water catchments, nature reserves, urban and rural settlements, industry, mining, transport and communications, tourism, recreation, cultural sites, fishing, energy). 48.55% of the land is agricultural land (World Bank, 2014), 6.1% if forest land and 45.8% is for the other uses (CIA World Fact book, 2011). 10.19% of the agricultural land is arable, (World Bank 2014) 0.9% is permanent crops and 37.4% is permanent pasture. (CIA World Fact book, 2011).
The main land use activities in Murang’a county are: small scale farming, livestock keeping, housing and forestry. (Murang’a county Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017).

2.1.2 Major types of land use.
Despite the extensive list of global land use and land cover maps available, there is significant lack of agreement between specific types and locations of land cover and distribution. For this reason, de Baan et al. (2013b) delineate four broad land use categories. The land use types agriculture, pasture, managed forest, and urban are distinguished.
2.1.2a Farming
the background of Murang’a County’s economy is rooted in agriculture, practiced on small family land holding. Over 60% of small scale farmers grow cash crops tea and coffee. (Murang’a County website, 2015) With the increase in demand for food, fuel and fibre for the growing population, more land is cleared for food production and food production is intensified. It has been argued that agricultural production has to increase globally to supply the food required for the estimated over 9 billion people by 2050 (UN, 2007). Biodiversity in agricultural landscapes depends largely on the intensity of land use. Farming systems differ regionally in intensity and have, in the past, shown large changes. Post-war agricultural policies in the EU focused mainly on increasing agricultural productivity by promoting technical innovations and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production (as laid down in article 33 of the EC Treaty). These policies can be considered successful in as far as they have resulted in increased yields and enhanced capacity for self-sufficiency. However, increased agricultural intensity has also resulted in an increasing pressure on biodiversity, and this is likely to continue (Tilman et al., 2001). Petit et al. (2001) indicated that agricultural intensification would be the most important form of pressure on biodiversity in the coming decades.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

2.1.2b Livestock/ pasture
Pastoral production dominates the livestock sector, with 80 per cent of the country’s livestock is produced in pastoral and agro-pastoral systems (FAO Country Programming Framework for Kenya 2014-2017). Livestock is noted as a major driver of land use change; Deforestation, destruction of riparian forests, drainage of wetlands, either for feed production or for livestock production itself, modifying or destroying ecosystems that are habitats for various wild species. One of the major changes in history is the rapid widespread adoption of cattle with exotic Bos tarus dairy genes for milk production; breeding. (Conelle, 1998). This has created positive results in increasing milk production but has increased the extinction rate for indigenous species by invading their ecosystem and creating an imbalance in the ecological equilibrium.

2.1.2c Forestry
Kenya’s forestry resources are dwindling, “The forest area has been declining at an alarming rate. Loss of forests through excision, population pressures and climate change is estimated at close to 5,000 ha per year. Loss through excisions and forest fires is estimated at 15,000 hectares annually” (GoK, 1999) with forests estimated to cover less than 3 per cent of the country’s total land area, against an internationally accepted norm of 10 per cent. One of the key reasons for this decline is the fact that forests provide wood and non-wood products to over 80 per cent of all households in the country. Given this massive dependence on forestry products, coupled with the changing dynamics of pastoralism in the arid and semi-arid areas the diversification of livelihood strategies into the sustainable utilization of forestry products increasingly offers an important opportunity both for the conservation of forests and for poverty reduction (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2011).
2.1.2d Urbanization
Urbanization as a land use is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of rural migration and
even sub-urban concentration into cities (particularly the very large ones) and around the small
ones in the village depending on the factors that are driving its growth. Urban population is
increasing at a much faster rate than was expected. The process of urbanization has been
characterized not only by population growth but also by industrial expansion, increasing
economic and social activities and intensified use of land resources (Karuga, 1993). The growth of cities may cause biodiversity to decline destroying or fragmenting natural habitat into patches not big enough to support complex ecological communities. For example in the United Kingdom, an increase in urban development were found to be the cause of 35% of scarce plant species extinction in the counties surrounding urbanized areas(Thompson, K. and Jones, A 1999).

2.1.3 The nexus between land use and land use change
Land Use is the human modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment. It is basically the human activities on the earth’s surface. The major effect of land use on land cover since 1750 has been deforestation of temperate regions (Nuwagaba and Namateefu, 2013).
Land use change is the process which human activities transform the natural landscape, referring to how land has been used, usually emphasizing the functional role of land for economic activities.
2.1.4 Biodiversity loss and mitigation measures
The variety of life on Earth, its biological diversity, the number of species of plants, animals and microorganisms, the enormous diversity of genes in these species (National Wildlife Federation, 2017). Loss of biodiversity can be characterized by the decrease in abundance and distribution of many original species and an increase in few other – human favored- species. Identified anthropogenic drivers influencing loss of biodiversity are land conversion, exploitation, fragmentation, water extraction, pollution, eutrophication and climate change. This is particularly caused by human interaction.
Kenya is a mega bio-diverse country with over 35,000 species of ?ora and fauna. The species diversity is dominated by insects (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2011). This diversity is served by the variable ecosystems ranging from marine, mountains, tropical, dry lands, forests and arid lands. In addition to these are some 467 inland lake and wetland habitats covering about 2.5% of the total area. Kenyan forests are endowed with a rich array of plant and animal life. Some of the species endemic to the forest habitats are found nowhere else in the world. Since species richness tends to correlate with the annual amount of rainfall, wetter forests are richer in species (Institute of Economic Affairs, 2011). Biodiversity is mainly in forests and wildlife parks and reserves. According to reports, about 10-12 percent of Kenya’s land area is designated protected area and the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) manages about 8% of this area. 20% of the land area is under agriculture and also simultaneously supports most of the human population. The remaining 70% of the land area is mostly rangeland. Despite these traditional land uses, there is realization that a lot of wild species are found and may even thrive better outside designated protected areas. The management objective of these areas recognizes and aims to maintain functional components of biodiversity rather than total numbers and recognizes that biodiversity has great scope. For Kenya, the protection of wild lands, the integration of compatible land-uses systems and creation of protected areas will ensure biodiversity conservation ((Institute of Economic Affairs, 2011).
2.1.5 Strategies to mitigate biodiversity loss
They range from environmental policies and legislation, community involvement, national biodiversity assessment and documentation, sustainable management and conservation of biodiversity including fair and equitable benefit-sharing. Also, technical and scientific research support, information dissemination, and capacity-building and integrated national planning for development.
In-situ conservation e?orts and strategies: Protected areas like national parks and reserves, marine reserves, sanctuaries and forest reserves managed by KWS for example Aberdares National park in Murang’a County; Botanical and zoological gardens: (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). The Nairobi Botanic Garden at the Nairobi National Museum holds plants collections for research, education, conservation and recreation. Some public universities and schools have established or are in the process of setting up botanical gardens or arboreta to support plant conservation and plant sciences like Nairobi University and Arboreta and parks in municipals and urban centers (Murang’a County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017).
Ecosystem restoration activities such as forests, grasslands, estuaries and mangroves ecosystems are encouraged. Forest cover ensures carbon sink and sequestration while firming up soil thus preventing soil erosion. Tree planting is the most effective way of enhancing forest cover and reducing environmental degradation (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005). The county has five indigenous gazetted forests covering a total area of 254.4 Km2. They are: Gatare, Karua, Kimakia, Kiambicho and Wanjerere forests. There are also 204,557 farm forests which are privately owned plantations. (Murang’a County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017). Diversification to use of solar energy, wind energy, bio gas and promotion of wood energy efficiency and conservation through using improved stoves at household level.
Promotion of sustainable intensification of agriculture: In regions, (like Murang’a County), where agricultural expansion will continue to be a large threat to biodiversity, development assessment and diffusion of technologies that could increase production per unit area sustainably without harmful trade-offs related to excessive consumption of water, use of nutrients or pesticides to significantly lessen the pressure on biodiversity. If biodiversity is managed appropriately, it can also contribute to agricultural productivity and sustainability through providing ecosystem services; pest control, pollination, soil fertility, protection of water sources against soil erosion. This can be achieved via encouraging integrated development, farmers switch from regular crops to drought resistance/tolerant crops which requires less water, promotion of good farm practices e.g. efficient use of nitrogen fertilizers to increased yields, use of alternative fuels such as bio-diesels, on-farm energy generation, etc., reduced tillage systems, cover cropping (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).
Removing or redirecting economic subsidies that cause more harm than good as well as using economic incentives to encourage biodiversity conservation. Agricultural subsidies in industrial countries reduce world prices for many commodities that developing nations produce encouraging these countries to adopt unsustainable agricultural activities that destroy ecosystems (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005).
Sustainable rangeland Management; rangelands have a high value for leisure, pastoral livelihoods and scientific studies. They present a paradox for biodiversity conservation because they are threatened and continuously changing under the in?uence of pastoralism and now increasingly under subsistence agriculture. Most rangeland and grazing management techniques were designed to increase and sustain livestock production by decreasing rangeland diversity, in favor of grassland communities. This approach is obviously contrary with biodiversity management and conservation but can be moderated for the benefit of biodiversity. For example, in riparian and aquatic habitats, surrounded by dry lands, ranching practices that protect water quality are applicable to habitat protection and biodiversity conservation. This is achieved by excluding livestock through creation of buffer zones and by providing alternate water supplies. Prescribed grazing, livestock exclusion and creation of paddocks are common ranching practices that support and conserve local biodiversity. Also, adhering to proper stocking rates and continuous monitoring and adjustment are beneficial to biodiversity conservation (Pardini, 2000).
Creation of supportive laws and policies to promote biodiversity preservation and conservation by the central government: Integration of biodiversity conservation strategies within broader development planning frameworks like urban planning e.g. markets for ecosystem services, protective areas and restoration ecology, will have more success if they are reflected in national development strategies or poverty reduction strategies as the costs and benefits are explicitly recognized in the public expenditure review resources for the implementation of the responses can be set aside for the national budgetary frameworks. (Green facts, 2001). For example Murang’a County Integrated Development Plan 2013-2017.
Creation of public awareness is an important tool in mainstreaming biodiversity. The CBD recognizes in article 13, the need to create awareness and educate the public. This not only entails telling people about biodiversity and what is happening so that they can correct what they do; It includes attracting, motivating and mobilizing individual and collective action for biodiversity. The only way to reduce the loss of biodiversity, conserve it and implement the policy strategies is to gain collaboration and cooperation of individuals, organizations, and groups in society to act on the drivers for its loss (CBD, IUCN 2007). The public needs to embrace these projects as their own and the changes required of people will not come about by rational individual choice alone. Biodiversity planners need to think differently about using communication, education and public awareness rather than just as a way to make scientific information available to the public (CBD article 13, 2007).


I'm Dianna!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out