Taita Research Station
Taita Research Station is a multidisciplinary research station of the University of Helsinki in Kenya established in 2011. The research focus of the station is on land cover and land use change and the impacts on climate, water resources, biodiversity, and livelihoods. The landscape, environment and socio-economic characteristics of the Taita Hills, and Taita Taveta County, in general, provides unique research questions to students and scientists in collaboration with the local community, research institutes, and universities. The research carried out by the University of Helsinki started in 1989 by a field excursion, and restarted again in 2003 with Professor Petri Pellikka returning to Taita Hills with his students. Since then, students and scientists ranging from geography and biology to physics and medicine have used the station premises for their field work producing over 50 Ph.D., MSc and BSc theses. Main cooperation partners in Kenya have been University of Nairobi, Taita Taveta University, International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, National Museums of Kenya, World Agroforestry Centre and Kenya Forest Service. Substantial research funding has been received from the Academy of Finland and development cooperation funding from Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
The most valuable asset of the station is the geospatial database about land cover and its changes, soil, topography, climate, and infrastructure. In addition, the station has a variety of field plots describing land cover and vegetation characteristics. Remote sensing data of the station includes multitemporal aerial photography and satellite imagery, airborne laser scanner data and airborne hyperspectral remote sensing data. The station can host 20 guests at the time providing logistics, accommodation, internet, water, electricity, and safety. The staff includes besides manager, catering chef, and guards also research assistants and drivers. Laboratory and teaching premises are modest, and therefore the station is looking forward to expanding its facilities. During the past years, more than 1200 research overnights take place at the station. The advisory board of the station chaired by Professor Jouko Rikkinen nominated by the rector of the University of Helsinki consists of a representative from every faculty of the university. Director Petri Pellikka, station coordinator Dr. Tino Johansson and the staff of the station welcomes students and scientists to the Taita Research Station.