This program sets out to provide an understanding of some of the historical and current threats to indigenous vegetation (and biodiversity) in East Africa, a practical guide on how to restore degraded land and an introduction to field-based skills and data collection.
As human populations in East Africa grow and more land is needed for food production, indigenous vegetation is often cleared without clear legislature or incentive to protect it. Diverse indigenous vegetation is often replaced with a monoculture of Eucalyptus, Wattle and Cypress timber plantations or food-based cash crops, leading to a steep decline in biodiversity and viable ecosystem services. The Brackenhurst Botanic Garden and indigenous forest is a fascinating example of how quickly that biodiversity and ecosystem services can be restored on a relatively small piece of land. Combining a high diversity of indigenous plants with a relentless effort to keep invasive species at bay without using chemical herbicides, this indigenous forest has contributed to a sharp, measurable increase in biodiversity and cleaner river water for downstream communities.
In Limuru, students are exposed to a unique Kenyan climate as well as peri-urban Kenyan life – an enriching cultural, societal, and environmental contrast from the hustle and bustle of Nairobi. Students will be based at the Brackenhurst Conference Centre, home to the Brackenhurst Botanical Gardens, surrounded by a restored African forest. They will have direct access to a successful and ongoing forest restoration project.
By the end of this program, students should be able to:
- Apply plant identification and field-based data techniques in the field
- Demonstrate foundational knowledge of Afro-montane forest species and local plant taxonomy
- Analyze the theoretical constructs surrounding plant and biodiversity conservation
- Contextualize the historical and current threats to African tropical forest ecosystems
- Examine responses to invasive species removal
- Develop tree nursery care and maintenance skills
Herbert is the Garden Manager and Curator of Brackenhurst Botanical Gardens. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Analytical Chemistry at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology before going on to work with the Kenyan Forestry Research Institute’s (KFRI) seed department. During his four years at the KFFI, Herbert was also involved with the Seed For Life project in partnership with Kew Gardens in London.
His main area of expertise is indigenous plant propagation. Herbert is also a keen freelance nature photographer.
Galena was born in Kenya and possesses an Honours degree (BSc Hons) in Horticulture with Plantsmanship from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh. Her main area of study was the taxonomy and phylogeny of Dalbergia (African blackwood). Galena is presently completing her Masters in Taxonomy and Biodiversity of Plants at the University of Edinburgh.
She was a resident intern with the Brackenhurst Botanical Gardens in 2018 and has intimate knowledge of the gardens.
Customize Your Program
Our friendly and experienced team will work closely with you to develop your custom faculty-led program from conceptualization to execution. We believe every journey to Africa gives students the opportunity to learn and transform and we pride ourselves in our ability to create unique, sustainable and truly African transformative learning journeys.
Kiambethu Tea Farm
Touring the Kiambethu Tea Farm gives insight into the colonial history and economics of Kenya, as well as the process undergone to transform the leaves of a tea bush into one of the most well known beverages of all time. The tour includes a walk through indigenous forests rich with medicinal trees, as well as a delicious colonial luncheon on the lawn.
River Rafting Rapids Camp
River Tana is the perfect place for white river rafting, with rapids ranging from grades three to five. It is also the only place in for white river rafting in Kenya. Upstream and downstream currents, including waterfalls, provide different technicalities that challenge beginners as well as more experienced rafters. Rafting River Tana is a worthy adrenaline rush!
Big Cat Monitoring
Incredible wildlife is one of Africa’s most appealing icons, and is desperately in need of protection through conservation and educational projects. Many conservation efforts give rise to amazing volunteering programs, such as the opportunity to research and monitor big cats. Taking part in this project gives students a chance to deeply experience and engage with some of Africa’s most powerful and breathtaking wildlife.
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens
Brackenhurst Botanic Gardens is a vibrant gateway into the world of pre-colonial climate diversity. Rising out of misty, rolling hills of emerald-green tea, these gardens stand as a testament to the power of environmental restoration and protection. The project began in the year 2000 and includes an arboretum of rare tree species that are critically endangered across the continent.