Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is the last large remnant of the East African coastal forest. The forest covers about 420 km2 and is an important conservation area due to its biodiversity richness. The forest is internationally renowned for its rare bird and mammal species and diversity of habitats.
The Globally Endangered birds Clarke’s Weaver, Sokoke Pipit, Amani Sunbird, Spotted Ground Thrush and Sokoke Scops Owl are found in the forest, which is home to twenty per cent of the bird species and thirty per cent of the butterfly species found in Kenya.
The Golden-rumped Sengi or Elephant-shrew is one of four globablly threatened mammals in the forest. Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is designated as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), and together with Mida Creek, forms part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The forest is also renowned for its innovative Kipepeo Butterfly project.
A management team of important stakeholders manage the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Reserve. The Management Team is composed of Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, National Museums of Kenya, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Nature Kenya and the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Adjacent Dwellers Association.
The Arabuko–Sokoke Forest Adjacent Dwellers Association (ASFADA) is the forest’s Site Support Group (SSG). The group has 3,563 members and is involved in activities such as butterfly farming, beekeeping, tree planting and ecotourism. With help from Nature Kenya and the Community Development Trust Fund,
ASFADA built and manages the Jamii Villas, where visitors can stay or have a meal.
The Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, a working group of Nature Kenya, also carries out conservation activities in the forest. The group monitors, documents and reports illegal tree felling and poaching of animals, creates awareness about the value of the forest amongst local and international communities, and supports local farming communities and the conservation work of the Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service.
Nature Kenya in partnership with DOF – the BirdLife Partner in Denmark – secured funding from Denmark for a program titled “Integrating Livelihoods and Conservation – People Partner with Nature for Sustainable Living”. The program’s long-term objective is to reduce forest loss in three forested Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) at the Kenyan coast – Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, Dakatcha Woodland and Taita Hills forests – and contribute to best participatory forest management practices for the benefit of all. It is being implemented through partnerships with various government institutions, the Kilifi and Taita–Taveta county governments and site support groups. This program is supporting 50 beekeeping groups and 26 butterfly farming groups in Arabuko-Sokoke.
Nature Kenya, through funding from NABU (the BirdLife partner in Germany) has also continued to support improvement of local capacity through diversification of skills. The NABU funded project aims at contributing to the implementation of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Elephant Conservation Action Plan.