Highlights and latest news
November 2015 – Premier night of the documentary film
The premiere night of the documentary film Veden matka – WATER’S JOURNEY – at the Great Hall of the University of Helsinki (Fabianinkatu 33) on November 16, 5 pm. The event celebrates the 375 anniversary of the University of Helsinki.
THE WATER’S JOURNEY takes you to the Taita Hills in Kenya, to cool streams percolating from lush mist forests of mountain tops, to forest fires raging on cleared slopes, and to corn drying under the blazing sun in the dry lowland. The film witnesses the eternal cycle of water and the change of seasons in a region confronting the ever increasing effects of climate change.
The film is based on the environmental change research done at the Taita Research Station with funding from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Academy of Finland, but approaches its topic through cinematography and through the daily life of local people.
Script: Jouko Rikkinen, Toni Laine & Petri Pellikka
Director: Toni Laine
Production: Wild Heart Productions Oy
October 2015 – Scientific CHIESA seminar organised with International Center of Insect Ecology and Physiology (icipe)
Taita Research Station organizes a scientific seminar for local stakeholders and beneficiaries in the Lavender Hotel, Wundanyi on October 7. Opening remarks are given by the Governor of the Taita Taveta County, H.E. John Mruttu and Prof. Juha Karhu from the University of Helsinki. The seminar presents some of the outcomes of CHIESA project funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa – Increasing Knowledge, Building Capacity and Developing Adaptation Strategies). The topics of the seminar include 1) Application of geoinformatics and environmental modeling in the Taita Hills, 2) Presentation of the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Taita Hills, 3) Presentation of a new book: Natural History of Wild Fruits of the Taita Hills, and 4) Integrating participatory research and geoinformatics to develop new visions and pathways for the future of the Taita Hills. About 70 participants are expected to join from various parts of the county including teachers, officers from the governmental and county offices, environmental NGO’s and other stakeholders. The full program: CHIESA_Seminar_Wundanyi 2015 Program_final
August 2015 – Koen Thijs presented his PhD thesis: Tree community dynamics and ecosystem function in a tropical landscape under deforestation pressure
Koen Thijs from Belgium presented his PhD thesis “Tree community dynamics and ecosystem function in a tropical landscape under deforestation pressure” at the KU Leuven, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering. Dr. Thijs has been carrying out field work in the Taita hills leaving his footprint at the Taita Research Station.
August 2015 – Five new MSc thesis finished at the University of Helsinki
Vuokko Heikinheimo, 2015: Impact of land change on aboveground carbon stocks in the Taita Hills, Kenya. Department of Geosciences and Geography (geoinformatics). The work was done within CHIESA project (Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Services and Food Security in Eastern Africa) funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Elisa Schäfer, 2014: Tree species diversity estimation using airborne imaging spectroscopy. Department of Geosciences and Geography (geoinformatics). The work was done within BIODEV project (Building Biocarbon and Rural Development in West Africa) funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland.
Åsa Stam, 2015: The growth and biomass increase of bryophyte and lichen transplants in Taita Hills, Kenya. Department of Biosciences. The work was done within TAITAWATER project (Integrated land cover-climate-ecosystem process study for water management in East African highlands) funded by the Academy of Finland.
Elina Virtanen, 2015: Fine-resolution climate grids for species distribution studies in data-poor regions. Department of Geosciences and Geography (physical geography). The work was done within TAITAWATER project (Integrated land cover-climate-ecosystem process study for water management in East African highlands) funded by the Academy of Finland.
Jessica Broas, 2015: Mapping above-ground biomass of trees outside forests in the Taita hills, Kenya, using airborne laser scanning and individual tree detection. Department of Geosciences and Geography (physical geography). The work was done within BIODEV project (Building Biocarbon and Rural Development in West Africa) funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland.
March 2015 – Map release ceremony of the digital map of Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary
Taita Research Station released and donated digital map with information about land cover, roads and and facilities of the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary located southwest of the Taita Hills. In the ceremony organized at Lion’s Bluff hotel, the chancellor of the University of Helsinki, Thomas Wilhelmsson greeted the audience by describing the long term commitment of the University of Helsinki in Taita Taveta county. Deputy Governor Mary Ndiga Kibuka saw a lot of cooperation possibilities within mapping of the nature resources and regional planning of the Taita Taveta county. Governor John Mruttu saw the geospatial datasets compiled and research carried out by the Taita Research Station very precious in improving the water resources of the county. The principal aim of this particular map is to provide paper maps for tourists, but also digital maps connected to global positioning systems (GPS) in order to navigate using GPS receivers or tablet computers. Another aim is to use the digital maps for updating real-time wildlife movements in the sanctuaries. The work was carried out by professional map maker, PhD student Mårten Boström. Read more about mapping activities at http://www.martenbostrom.com/. Video clips of the ceremony can be found at:
February 2015 – A delegation of the chairman of the board of the University of Helsinki
Dr. Jaana Husu-Kallio, the chairman of the board of the University of Helsinki and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland, visited the Taita Research Station with a delegation from Natural Resource Institute Finland (LUKE). The delegation took part earlier in February the annual meeting of the FoodAfrica project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (https://portal.mtt.fi/portal/page/portal/mtt_en/projects/foodafrica). In Taita Taveta, Dr. Husu-Kallio was introduced the research carried out by the University of Helsinki and met also the Governor John Mruttu. (https://www.facebook.com/TheTaitaTavetaCountyGovernment)
January 2015 – School groups from Porvoo, Finland
Linnankoski High School and Borgå Gymnasium from Porvoo town, Finland carried out their “Internationalization course” as a part of curricula in geography studies at the Taita Research Station in January 2015. The excursion was led by teacher Jouko Lehmuskorpi and professor Petri Pellikka from the University of Helsinki. The class visited local schools (Canon Kituri High School and Maktau Primary School), the native forest patches of the Taita Hills, Kasigau mountain, LUMO sanctuary and Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary. The students joined local families to learn every day’s life of a Kenyan agricultural family, learned current research carried out at the research station and were introduced to the mapping activities and methods. Read more about the excursion entitled as “Multidisciplinary studies on environmental issues in Taita Taveta, Kenya” at lilugoestaita.blogspot.fi.
November 2014 – MoU with Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary
Taita Research Station and Sarova Hotels Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary signed a Memorandum of Understanding about research and development cooperation aiming to involve science in wildlife conservation within the sanctuary and its environments. Similar kind of MoU is going to be signed with neighbouring LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary. Together the both sanctuaries cover 680 square kilometers savannah southwest of the Taita Hills between the hills and Tsavo West National Park.
Research on the use of water resources in the Taita Hills
Social –research group of the TAITAWATER project studied the water resources’ use and management in the Taita Hills in 2013-2014. This research attempted to understand the current status of the water resources from the perspective of the local people and to analyse the driving forces behind the declining water resources. Participatory research methods, such as PGIS and timeline exercises, were employed in the study.
Short film about Taita Research Station
December 2012 – Taita Research Station Fund
Rector Thomas Wilhelmsson founded Taita Research Station Fund as proposed by the Alumni Association of the University of Helsinki. The purpose of the Fund is to support the research and teaching at the station and especially to support student’s work at the station. The instructions how to donate is under Taita Research Station Fund.
Taita Hills are located in south-eastern Kenya as a part of Eastern Arc mountain chain, which is a one of the World´s biodiversity hotspots. Rising from the Tsavo plains from 600 m a.s.l. up to 2200 m a.s.l. and having mountain rain forests patches at the mountain tops acting as water towers feeding the lowlands, the Taita Hills may be considerd as a miniatyre of Kenya. The forests as well as the agricultural land suffer from degradation due to population pressure due to the complexity of natural resource management.
The biogeographical setting of the Taita Hills have attracted scientists from various disciplines since late 1980′s. One can find a diverse range of ecosystems and livelihoods in Taita, both high in the hills and on the lowlands. These include indigenous and plantation forests, sacred groves, agroforestry, rangelands, sisal plantations, national parks and reserves as well as urbanized areas.
Taita Research Station of the University of Helsinki.
Taita Hills is of primary interest among geographers, ecologists, foresters, agronomists and social scientists studying the land use and land cover changes, biodiversity, water resources, climate – land cover feedback mechanisms, rural development and environmental conservation.
The University of Helsinki established Taita Research Station in the Taita Hills in 2011.
The Taita Hills seen from the south-western plains in September 2012. The highest hilltops reach more than 2000 m, while the dry plains are between 600 to 1000 meters a.s.l.