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Understanding spatial priorities for conservation and restoration in Kenya

Gibbon, Gwili Edward Morgan (2021) Understanding spatial priorities for conservation and restoration in Kenya. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.92529) (KAR id:92529)


Human actions are having widespread, profound, and growing impacts on the global environment. This is converting habitats, driving biodiversity loss, and eroding ecosystem functions that support human livelihoods, health, and well-being. Protected areas remain a cornerstone of efforts to abate environmental destruction, safeguard biological diversity and maintain ecosystem functions, but they must formalise and incorporate other effective area-based conservation measures into conservation planning and monitoring frameworks. Given the rapid onset of anthropogenic climate change and the failure to halt environmental destruction, there is also a widely recognised need to restore ecosystems based on their benefits to biodiversity, ecosystems and people. This has the potential to revolutionise conservation actions, moving away from a protectionist history into a paradigm of creation and co-existence that puts local communities, industries and wider civil society at the forefront of efforts. This requires a future where multifunctional ecological networks are equitable, effective and well connected and therefore resilient to climatic and broader environmental change.

I focus this thesis on the Republic of Kenya, a country that is going through a sustained period of economic growth and committed to protecting its wealth of biodiversity and to ecological restoration. First, I provide a novel method to map functional connectivity within Kenya's Central Highlands using expert opinion validated with empirical data. I use this to identify areas of restricted movement and investigate how they would change under stakeholder-defined future land-use options, finding where restoration would be most beneficial. Second, I investigate stakeholder preference for these options using structured decision-making and a multi criteria decision analysis, finding broad support for habitat conservation and restoration that changed little as I built more consensus into the process. Third, I use a novel application based on the principles of systematic conservation planning to integrate spatial priorities for biodiversity conservation and restoration, meeting representation targets across terrestrial Kenya. I measure the contribution of Kenya's different protected area types and use scenarios to show how meeting targets by restoring large patches of habitat, instead of conserving small fragments, produces more ecologically viable but more expensive ecological networks.

This thesis helps provide an understanding of the benefits of integrating national-level priorities for conservation and restoration. However, governments must develop context-specific approaches to target interventions that put local communities at the forefront of efforts, promoting multifunctional landscapes of human-wildlife co-existence and enabling environmental stewardship.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Smith, Robert
Thesis advisor: Davies, Zoe
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.92529
Uncontrolled keywords: biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration, ecosystem services, landscape connectivity, local communities, scenario planning, structured decision-making, systematic conservation planning
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2022 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 00:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Gibbon, Gwili Edward Morgan.

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