Department of Geography, University of Helsinki

Taita Hills is a mountainous area in southeastern Kenya rising from the semiarid plains at the elevation of 600-900 m up to cloud forests over 2000 m asl. Due to the altitudinal differences the area is very variable by rainfall, vegetation cover and land use. The plains are used mainly for grazing and sisal cultivation, while the hills, which were once covered by cloud forests, are used for intensive agriculture. Some remnants of indigenous forests are left on the hills. Most part of the plains is used as game reserves and national parks.

Department of Geography of the University of Helsinki has been studying the Taita Hills since 1989. During the 2000’s the Academy of Finland has funded the research in two phases. In 2003-2005, the TAITA project focused on developing land use change detection methods applying remote sensing and GIS, on studying land degradation, investigating the sacred forests and urban growth.

The second phase, TAITATOO project (2006-2009) focuses on the application of the compiled geographic database of land use and land cover for conservation and biodiversity studies. TAITATOO also explores the possibilities of the participation of local communities for conservation and natural resource management, and to integrate the results from the participatory research methods with geographic information systems. The project will also create Taita Hills Environmental Monitoring System (THEMS), in which the spatiotemporal data created by the project and other researchers will be compiled.

In general, the TAITA projects aims at developing methods for remote sensing data and geographic information systems for land cover and land cover change monitoring.

The TAITA-project

The TAITATOO-project

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