Distribution, Conservation Status and Effects of Threats on Relative Abundance of Warburgia ugandensis Tree Species. A Case Study of Katimok Forest Reserve, Kenya
Forest ecosystems provide livelihood opportunities such as medicines, fuelwood, timber, cash income and a reliable supply of groundwater. However, encroachment of forests by human settlement adjacent to conservation areas is associated with overharvesting of forest resources and uncontrolled livestock grazing leading to the destruction and disappearance of useful plant species in forest ecosystems which can significantly affect both biodiversity integrity and ecological functioning. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the distribution, conservation status, and effects of threats on the relative abundance of Warburgia ugandensis in Katimok Forest Reserve, Baringo County in Kenya. Data collection was done using transect lines and quadrat methods. The data on the relative abundance of Warburgia ugandensis and indicators of threat were collected from quadrats and sub-quadrats located at 50 m, 350 m and 650 m from the forest edge. In addition, other measures of tree growth such as diameter at breast height (DBH) and heights of mature trees in the study blocks were made. One-way ANOVA was used to analyse the relative abundance of Warburgia ugandensis, indicators of threat and growth parameters. Pearson correlation results revealed a significant relationship between debarked and mature Warburgia ugandensis (r = 0.95; df=2, P=0.019), grazing intensities, and number of seedlings/saplings (r = 0.96; df=2, P=0.017) and other indicators of threats (stumps, defoliated leaves, broken twigs/branches) and the abundance of Warburgia ugandensis (r = 0.97; df=2, p=0.015). Therefore, there is an urgent need to map out the distribution of Warburgia ugandensis in the whole country to know where it is abundant in order to draw a national conservation and management plan for the tree species.
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