News and media coverage

May 2024

Zwischen Naturlandschaft und Lebensraum

In der Ausgabe 1/2024 der Zeitschrift “forschung”, dem Magazin der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), erschien ein wunderbarer Artikel zum Thema Mensch-Natur-Beziehungen: Zwischen Naturlandschaft und Lebensraum, am Beispiel des Kilimandscharo, verfasst von María Eugenia Degano, Neema Robert Kinabo, Thomas Müller und Katrin Böhning-Gaese. In diesem werden die Arbeit innerhalb des Projektes “Die Rolle der Natur für das menschliche Wohlergehen im sozial-ökologischen System des Kilimandscharo” als auch erste Ergebnisse vorgestellt.

Der Artikel ist auf Deutsch erschienen.

Issue 1/2024 of “forschung”, the magazine of the German Research Foundation (DFG), published a wonderful article on the subject of human-nature relationships: Between natural landscape and habitat, using the example of Kilimanjaro, written by María Eugenia Degano, Neema Robert Kinabo, Thomas Müller and Katrin Böhning-Gaese. It presents the work within the project “The role of nature for human well-being in the social-ecological system of Kilimanjaro” as well as initial results.

The article has been published in German.

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March 2024

A creative approach for social-ecological science communication at Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania

In February 2023, subproject 3 (SP3) of the Kili-SES team embarked on an outreach tour to communicate their research findings to communities, tour operators, nature conservationists and other interested stakeholders at Mt Kilimanjaro.

Jelke Meyer, a former student at Leuphana University of Lüneburg, wrote her Bachelor thesis on arts-based methods for social-ecological science communication, utilising SP3’s outreach tour as a case study. As part of her thesis, Jelke designed four posters based on SP3’s findings to be presented during the outreach tour. Over a few months, Jelke worked closely with SP3 to ensure the posters effectively represented the research results. Jelke’s illustrations depict the diverse Nature’s Contributions to People (NCP) and values of nature expressed by different stakeholders of Mt Kilimanjaro.

In line with the key message of her thesis, Jelke recently created an informative video which demonstrates the value of using arts-based and creative design methods to communicate social-ecological science to a non-academic audience.

We hope that Jelke’s video and posters inspire other researchers to communicate their research findings in creative and innovative ways.

Link to the poster series: https://doi.org/10.48548/pubdata-78

Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGQFpwQQTJA

– Jasmine Pearson, Jelke Meyer & Berta Martín-López –

March 2024

Weather or not – Global climate databases: Reliable on tropical mountains?

In this publication the significance of accurate climate data for climate change predictions and research is emphasized. In a recent study published in PLOS ONE, the inaccuracy of commonly used climate datasets, particularly in tropical mountain regions like Tanzania, including Kilimanjaro is demonstrated. Andreas Hemp and his team have established a unique network of climate measuring stations to gather precise data, crucial for understanding species distribution and ecosystem functions in the face of climate change. Existing global datasets, such as WorldClim and CHELSA, often underestimate precipitation levels and misrepresent altitude-related patterns, impacting species distribution models and predictions. The study underscores the necessity for locally collected data in tropical mountain regions, cautioning against overreliance on global datasets.

Adapted from: Universität Bayreuth, Press Release No 031/2024 – 15 March 2024

Publication: Hemp A, Hemp J (2024): Weather or not—Global climate databases: Reliable on tropical mountains? PLoS ONE 19(3): e0299363. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0299363

March 3rd, 2024

Visit of State Minister Katja Keul

On 3rd March 2024, a delegation from the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, led by Katja Keul and representatives of the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam, visited the scientific station Kidia. Katja Keul, State Minister in the Foreign Office, Vera Beutin and Regine Heß from the Foreign Office, Kathrin Steinbrenner from the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam, and the Zeit journalist Tillmann Prüfer, were briefed on the DFG-funded Kili-SES project. There was significant interest in understanding how the project came about and the backstory of the Hemp couple, who have been residing at the Kidia station for 34 years. Following an introduction to the two research groups since 2010, Andreas Hemp discussed the results and publications accumulated since then, particularly focusing on long-term climate and vegetation data, which are likely rare for a few areas worldwide over such a time span. A brochure summarising the results of the first research group was handed to the delegation, along with two leaflets about the Kili-SES project and the NGO TanzMont, explaining the areas addressed and surveyed through the research. While the first research group primarily collected ecological data, the second research group focuses mainly on the connections between humans and nature. It was also noted that with the recently completed forest inventory, an invaluable and possibly unique dataset for the tropics is now available. Claudia Hemp presented her work as a coordinator and also discussed her scientific activities as an entomologist. When the delegates sought examples of practical applications stemming from the research efforts, C. Hemp presented identification books for Orthoptera specifically tailored for East Africa. Furthermore, it was emphasized that the project has significantly contributed to the capacity building of Tanzanian scientists, with many students attaining education up to the PhD level. The topographical map of Kilimanjaro, developed during the first research group and based on 1600 permanent plots on the mountain, was thoroughly examined. The delegation also learned about the NGO TanzMont and its activities in terms of public relations (e.g. offering schools to learn about indigenous tree species) and that more than 30,000 trees have been planted in various areas on Kilimanjaro since 2014. The issue of the success of such planting actions was also addressed. The Hemps mentioned that in some areas, forests have grown, but for example, in a savannah area near Kahe, the young trees were immediately eaten by neighbouring residents’ goats and cattle herds. The booklet on medicinal plants of Kilimanjaro also found favour with the group. Following this, the Hemps showed the delegation the tree nursery and the approximately 8-year-old forest planted on the lower slope of the church grounds. After a brief visit to the old Lutheran church, the group marched through the Chagga Homegarden to the entrance of the Msaranga valley. Unfortunately, the delegation did not have enough time to descend into the valley to the waterfall. A lunch with typical Chagga dishes was well-received. The group bid farewell around 1:30 pm. We hope that the delegation gained a good insight into the Kili-SES project and the NGO TanzMont.

– Claudia Hemp –

February 2024

Revisit of IGS Linden, Hanover

In February 2024, a group consisting of two teachers and thirteen students from the comprehensive school Linden in Hanover, Germany (https://igs-linden.de), visited the Kidia station for another enlightening experience. They were invited to stay at the scientific station Nkweseko for three nights, during which they delved into exploring their surroundings, particularly the Chagga home gardens within their immediate vicinity. Additionally, they took part in the “tree tour” organised by the NGO TanzMont at Kidia and savoured the flavours of typical Chagga cuisine. The students were also introduced to the Msaranga valley, where they encountered remnants of submontane vegetation, and were treated to a refreshing shower under a waterfall.

Hosting IGS Linden, accompanied by selected graduating students, was indeed a pleasure. It is our hope that they departed with enriching impressions of the Kili-SES project and the various activities facilitated by the NGO TanzMont.

– Claudia Hemp –

February 12th-18th, 2024

Workshop on the 2nd phase of Kili-SES (Tanzania)

From February 12th to 18th, participants gathered in Tanzania for the Kili-SES Phase II Workshop. The main objective was to advance research and collaboration within the Kilimanjaro Social-Ecological System (Kili-SES) through a comprehensive agenda.

The workshop began with two days of welcoming European participants at the main house of the Nkweseko research station. This initial gathering allowed for robust discussions and activities, facilitating bilateral and multilateral exchanges among participants and subprojects. Participants were able to share insights and refine their presentations in anticipation of the upcoming sessions.

On February 13th, after a warm welcome from the management board led by Katrin Böhning-Gaese and an introduction to the project by Andreas Hemp, Mr. Steven Moshy of KINAPA delivered a keynote speech entitled “Long-term insights into the Kili Project and its transformative impact on KINAPA’s sustainable development.” This enlightening presentation demonstrated how collaboration and data derived from the Kili project supported KINAPA in planning and understanding ecological connections, presenting these findings to stakeholders and politicians. Rev. Faustine Kahwa from the Lutheran Diocese of Moshi delivered an inspiring lecture on the significance of research and its practical applications for the local community. She emphasized the significance of disseminating the results of the Kili-SES group to the public, with the expectation of a positive impact on their well-being.

Subsequently, the Principal Investigators (PIs), Co-PIs, and Postdocs from the seven subprojects shared their accomplishments from the first phase of the project and identified challenges within the Kili-SES. The presentations also outlined ideas for work packages for a second phase, which would span four years. Subsequent discussions provided opportunities for in-depth dialogue and collaboration, further strengthening the network of researchers and practitioners involved in the project.

On February 14th, participants had the opportunity to visit the Sugar Cane Plantations (TPC) south of Moshi. The excursion was a highlight of the event and provided valuable insights into various aspects of plantation management. In addition, participants had the chance to explore the organic garden and learn about cattle management. Finally, the TPC Nature Reserve Namalok was visited. This area has been restored to a nature reserve, and reintroduced wildlife such as zebra, wildebeests, and various gazelles could be observed.

The next two days, February 15th and 16th, working groups discussed key themes such as new proposals, research synthesis, data management, equity considerations, and coordination among PIs. Participants also visited research plots outside of the National Park and engaged with diverse stakeholders, enriching their understanding of the local context and fostering collaborative opportunities.

On February 17th, participants visited Kidia Station, where they enjoyed a “tree tour” to learn about indigenous trees suitable for planting in the Kilimanjaro plantation zone. Andreas Hemp provided insights into the history of the parish, highlighting Bruno Gutmann’s successful contributions as a Lutheran missionary and author on ethnological topics concerning the Wachagga people. The day ended with a walk to Msaranga, a submontane valley with a waterfall, providing an opportunity to admire the region’s biodiversity and ecological dynamics. Some group members even took a refreshing shower under the 80m high waterfall at the end of the valley.

– Claudia Hemp –

 

January 2024

Rooted Learning: ESG Gladenbach Graduating Class Explores the „Tree Tour“ in Kidia

Nineteen students and five teachers from Europe School Gladenbach led by Matthias Möller visited Kidia for a captivating “tree tour,” delving into the realm of indigenous trees. Andreas Hemp kickstarted the educational journey by providing in-depth insights into the history and culture of the Wachagga people, along with an introduction to the Kili-SES project. The group was led to the tree nurseries, where a spotlight was cast on trees with valuable timber, such as Khaya anthotheca, and the critically endangered Oxystigma (Prioria) msoo. Remarkable were the approximately one-year-old saplings of the tallest tree in Africa, Entandophragma excelsum, which are ready to be transplanted into the neighboring valleys. These include the Mrusunga Valley in particular, which is home to the mighty giants. The group also visited the historic Lutheran church of Kidia, where Andreas Hemp provided a detailed account of its history, showcasing old books from the missionary Bruno Gutmann. The music teacher, Kristina Guhl, was particularly enthralled by a book containing German Christmas carols in both German and Chagga languages. Spontaneously, she sang some of the carols, attempting to pronounce them in the Chagga language. Following this educational exploration, the group indulged in a traditional Chagga meal before venturing to the steep Msaranga valley, culminating in a cascading waterfall heightened by abundant rainfall. Some adventurous students even joined Andreas for a refreshing shower beneath the invigorating waterfall.

The Europe School Gladenbach (https://europaschule-gladenbach.de/) maintains a longstanding collaboration with Kisomachi Secondary School at Kilimanjaro. Upon departure, they spontaneously proposed bringing around 20 trees to the school premises, allowing each participating student and teacher to plant their own tree within the school grounds—a thoughtful and lasting gesture to commemorate their visit.

November 23rd, 2023

Interview Article: Less space for the Chagga home garden – A project is researching the transformation of agriculture and society on Kilimanjaro.

The image of snow-capped Kilimanjaro is one of Africa’s icons: a white-capped peak rising above the savannah, often with a few elephants or giraffes in the foreground. Above the haze, the mountain massif appears mighty and unchanging on the horizon. But the opposite is the case.

Climate, biodiversity, agriculture, population – the conditions on the slopes of Africa’s highest peak are changing on many levels. Science speaks of a socio-ecological system that is on the move. A team led by Prof. Dr. Andreas Thiel from the Department of International Agricultural Policy is researching just how dramatic, what influence humans are having and what consequences humans are bearing.

Thiel and his team have traveled to northern Tanzania countless times. There, right on the border with Kenya, lies Mount Kilimanjaro. “Its slopes are like a piece of tropical rainforest in the middle of the vast dry savannahs of the lowlands,” Thiel describes. “It’s green, misty, densely populated. The people who live on the mountain, the Chagga, seem proud, enterprising and tradition-conscious. Their culture is closely linked to the mountain.”

The research group is particularly interested in the fertile and densely populated southern slopes of the mountain massif. The population there has always used the water captured by the mountain and released by the glacier to cultivate the land. “Irrigation ditches run down the slopes like a spider’s web,” describes the agricultural economist. But the climate is changing, rainfall is becoming more irregular, temperatures are rising and the glacier on the summit is melting. These are not the only changes: Free trade is also having an impact on the landscape; many a farmer who used to grow a range of crops for local consumption now grows avocados for the world market. Coffee exports are being reorganized. What influence do institutions, i.e. formal and informal rules such as disposal and inheritance rights or the regulation of trade, have on these developments? This is the focus of Thiel’s project team. Over the past few years, they have gained a number of insights.

Take water, for example: when water becomes scarcer, it is also a question of politics and influence as to how it is distributed. The Kassel scientists have observed that large-scale farmers at the foot of the mountain are increasingly growing pineapples, beans and cut flowers. The cultivation of avocados has grown strongly. The fruit originally comes from Central America, but is now grown on every continent, with annual global production exceeding 8 million tons. In Germany, too, the oily fruit is becoming increasingly popular. The problem: avocado trees swallow up a lot of water. Despite lower rainfall, the influential large-scale farmers in the lower altitudes know how to ensure that more water is diverted from the higher altitudes down to their plantations. At higher altitudes, small farmers are often forced to turn to other sources of income, such as tourism. 

Take coffee, for example: Kilimanjaro is one of the oldest cultivation areas in the world for the Arabica variety, the harvests there are high-yielding and the beans are aromatic. In recent years, cooperatives, in which farmers traditionally organize themselves, have provided their members with new varieties that can cope better with the lack of rainfall. However, the power of the cooperatives is waning and their de facto monopoly has been broken by politicians – partly because some were poorly managed and had problems with corruption. Unlike in the past, membership is no longer compulsory. On the one hand, it is good for the farmers not to have to put up with corrupt structures, says Wivina Msebeni, who comes from Tanzania herself and is doing her doctorate on coffee cultivation there. “On the other hand, small farmers have a harder time on the market than large plantation owners.” This could lead to a shift in the balance and a concentration of cultivation. This would result in monocultures instead of the traditional mixed farming that has characterized the landscape on the slopes of Kilimanjaro to date: In the so-called “Chagga home gardens”, family farms grow coffee bushes alongside banana trees and vegetable patches.

Example of inheritance law: Traditionally in this region, inheritance is divided between all the sons and daughters of a couple. But as the population grows, this means that the plots of land inherited by the young farmers become smaller and smaller, and because each unit still has a family home on it, the total usable agricultural area shrinks. So not only are there more stomachs to fill, there is also less space to produce the necessary food. Will the right of inheritance remain untouched or will new forms develop? What ways will governments, municipalities and communities find to maintain long-term stability? The group from the University of Kassel is also investigating these questions.

The Kassel project is part of a DFG research group that brings together numerous disciplines and research institutions. While the Kassel sub-project focuses on the influence of institutions and other forms of governance on land use, society and nature, the overall project takes a broader view: What value does nature have for the well-being of people? How can the value of agriculture, biodiversity and tourism magnets be quantified? The researchers are hoping for results that can be transferred to other regions of the world. But that is not easy.

“The difficulty lies in the special characteristics of each region of the world,” Thiel points out. Culture, local economic models, climatic conditions – none of this is easy to transfer from one region to another. In the end, however, there should definitely be one thing: a socio-ecological model of the Kilimanjaro system that depicts the role of institutions, governance and power and, in general, the reality of this time – beyond the romanticism of the savannah that can be marketed to tourists.

Source: originally German text on the homepage of the University of Kassel – category Portraits and stories – by Sebastian Mense: https://www.uni-kassel.de/uni/aktuelles/meldung/2023/11/23/weniger-platz-fuer-den-chagga-home-garden?cHash=f590fecbb5eaa57d44c1f714399811ab The text has been automatically translated to English.

November 13th, 2023

Field work on Tree Hyraxes completed on Kilimanjaro

Before our first field season in 2023, little was known about Kilimanjaro’s tree hyraxes (Dendrohyrax validus validus). These creatures were quite mysterious and not well-known to the general public. Tree hyraxes, which are medium-sized, nocturnal, and shy animals, are actually closely related to elephants and manatees. They live exclusively in trees and eat only tree leaves. Their vocal behavior is quite diverse and includes melodious calls, but we still don’t know much about how they socialize.

Because tree hyraxes are hard to spot but have loud voices, our main method of studying them on Kilimanjaro involved using small, automatic recording devices placed along forest plots in various routes including Machame, Mweka, Umbwe, Maua, and Marangu. These recordings form the core of our data, helping us estimate how many tree hyraxes are in each area. Our main goal was to figure out where tree hyraxes are in Kilimanjaro and what kinds of places they like. Understanding their habitat needs is crucial for their conservation. In the past, tree hyraxes were at risk due to hunting, but now things are looking better because Kilimanjaro National Park and its forests are better protected. In addition to recording their sounds, we collected fecal samples for DNA analysis. We’re analyzing the genetic information to find out if the Kilimanjaro tree hyrax is a unique subspecies, as suggested by its distinctive calls compared to other tree hyraxes in the Eastern Arc Mountains and the coastal regions. We’re also studying tree hyraxes in other areas of Kenya and Tanzania to learn about their different vocal dialects, which will give us insights into how they evolved in Eastern Africa. Conservation efforts for tree hyraxes are limited because not many people know about them. Through our research, we hope to raise awareness about these fascinating creatures that are quietly disappearing from various parts of Africa.

– Hanna Rosti –

October 24th, 2023

New knowledge on the importance of tree leaves for CO2 storage

In a comprehensive, large-scale study involving nearly 400 collaborators, researchers from around the world have gathered data on various tree species. Also, the data contributed by Andreas Hemp during the Kili-Projects (2010-2023) were incorporated in this study. The outcomes of this research have been recently published in the journal Nature Plants, and they have greatly enhanced our comprehension of diverse tree leaf characteristics. As a result, we are now better equipped to make inferences about ecosystems and the carbon dioxide (CO2) cycle.

By quantifying the distribution of tree leaf types and their associated biomass, and by identifying regions where climate change is likely to impose more significant pressure on existing leaf types, these findings empower us to make more accurate predictions regarding the future functionality of terrestrial ecosystems and the carbon cycle. Understanding the distinctive leaf types of trees is of utmost importance for understanding their roles within terrestrial ecosystems, encompassing aspects such as carbon, water, and nutrient dynamics. Coniferous leaves, for instance, differ from deciduous leaves due to their water-conserving characteristics, albeit with lower biomass productivity. Deciduous trees, on the other hand, have evolved to adapt to seasonal climatic conditions, enabling them to thrive in areas that evergreen trees cannot, such as regions susceptible to frost or drought.

As Andreas Hemp from the Department of Plant Systematics at the University of Bayreuth points out, “However, our knowledge of the factors that influence the foliage types of forests is still limited, so we do not know exactly how large the proportion of coniferous and foliage-bearing as well as evergreen and deciduous trees is worldwide.“ To address this knowledge gap, nearly 400 researchers from across the globe have pooled their data resources, resulting in a comprehensive, ground-based evaluation of the diversity of forest leaf types. This evaluation was achieved by merging data from nearly 10,000 forest inventory plots with records from the international Plant Trait Database TRY, which provides insights into leaf characteristics, such as shape (deciduous vs. coniferous) and habit (evergreen vs. deciduous).

“We found that global variation in leaf longevity (leaf habit) depends primarily on the extent of seasonal temperature variation and soil properties, while leaf shape is primarily determined by temperature,” says Hemp. For leaves to fulfil their important function in the ecosystem, these conditions must be right.

– Claudia Hemp –

Adapted from: University of Bayreuth, Press release No 149/2023 – 24 October 2023: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/en/press-release/plant-leaf-carbon-capture

Publication: Ma H, Crowther TW, Mo L, et al. (2023) The global biogeography of tree leaf form and habit. Nature Plants. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-023-01543-5

September 22nd, 2023

Advertised PostDoc position for Kili-SES subproject 7

Until October 15th, 2023, applications for the available PostDoc position in the Kili-SES subproject 7 “Kilimanjaro as an integrated Social-Ecological System” based in the Plant Ecology Group at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the University of Bern can be sent to dominic.martin@unibe.ch.

For further information, please check the job advertisement.

 

September 11th, 2023

Kili-SES two-days noon-to-noon meeting from September 6th to 8th, 2023, in Frankfurt, Germany

From September 6th to 8th the Kili-SES research unit convened in Frankfurt where the first and half of the second day were spent on comprehensively reviewing the accomplishments of the individual subprojects. The rest of the second and the third day were then dedicated to brainstorming about ideas for a next phase of Kili-SES.

Overall, the meeting proved highly productive, offering valuable insights into fieldwork, data collection, and the occasional challenges when collecting field data. Additionally, the group engaged in discussions about knowledge gaps and various innovative ideas that could be addressed in the next phase.

During the workshop, it became evident that the group has formed strong bonds, with subprojects collaborating intensively and providing mutual support. Interestingly, the most excellent ideas for the next phase of Kili-SES emerged during a joint dinner at a traditional Frankfurt apple wine tavern illustrating the fruitful collaboration within the research unit, also beyond the purely professional level.

– Claudia Hemp –

August 23rd, 2023

Global study on invasive tree species: Bayreuth researcher investigates dynamics of biodiversity on Kilimanjaro

An international study published in „Nature“ shows for the first time on a global scale for what reasons and to what extent tree species invade ecosystems where they are not native. A total of 226 scientists from 54 countries in all continents contributed to this study on invasive tree species. Andreas Hemp from the University of Bayreuth and PI of SP6 of Kili-SES studied 65 plots at different altitudes on Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

He contributed the results of many years of empirical field research on Kilimanjaro to the study and emphasizes that a close look at the conditions on the ground is needed to make concrete statements about the reasons for and extent of the spread of non-native tree species. The most important factor in the immigration of alien tree species at Kilimanjaro is human-induced disturbance of forest ecosystems. Because more and more wood – either for energy supply or as building material – was taken from the existing forests, thinning occurred into which tree species coming from outside could advance. This development is particularly striking in alluvial forests which extend in narrow strips from an altitude of 1700 meters into the deep regions cultivated by man.

Another factor that promotes the spread of invasive tree species is the proximity of forest plantations. For example, tree species such as Mexican cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) and Pinus patula, a pine species native to Mexico, grow here. The plantations serve as a reservoir for foreign tree species which invade the natural forest belt at the foot of Kilimanjaro particularly easily. Here, the forests are already heavily disturbed by human intervention.

Forest fires play a central role in changing the forest areas around Kilimanjaro and the wider region. In recent decades, numerous Australian eucalyptus species have spread, as has the acacia species Acacia maernsii, which is also native to Australia. With their foliage that is difficult to decompose, rich in essential oils and accumulates on the forest floor, they increase fire danger, but they can also survive larger fires well and then multiply easily.

– Claudia Hemp –

Adapted from: University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 118/2023-23 August 2023: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/press-releases/invasive-tree-species

Publication: Camille S. Delavaux et al.: Native diversity buffers against severity of non-native tree invasions. Nature (2023), https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-06440-7 – DOI: 10.1038/s41586-023-06440-7

 
May 10th, 2023

Why is water quality a social concern on Mt. Kilimanjaro?

The Kili-SES Work Package 2 (WP2) of Sub-Project 1 (SP1) aims to measure the supply of regulating water-related Nature’s Contributions to People (NCPs) along climatic and land-use gradients. Freshwater quality and freshwater quantity, including distribution in space and time, are the two regulating water-related NCPs, which are addressed by our subproject.

Preliminary results from interviews and surveys with various stakeholder groups conducted by the social-science subprojects have shown that society is very concerned about water quality as a contribution from nature to their well-being and the environment around them. This result was a great motivation for us to organise an assessment of the state of water quality in the project area.

Fifty-five water samples of different types of water were collected during the dry season (last two weeks of February 2023) within the project study area. Samples were collected from streams, irrigation canals, groundwater and springs to capture variability of water quality across the altitudinal and land-use gradient within the main river basins. Rainfall, ice melt and snow melt samples were collected to aid understanding of the contribution of different water sources to the hydrological cycle. In addition, tap water samples were collected to assess the drinking water quality, which will be compared with the established Tanzanian and international drinking water standards. These samples were taken from selected villages that were involved in the social science surveys.

A total number of twenty-six parameters, including biological, chemical and physical parameters, are being analysed both in laboratories and in the field. The laboratory analyses are still ongoing with the support of the Ngurdoto Research Group, a laboratory of the Tanzanian Ministry of Water and the laboratory of the Landscape Ecology and Resource Management Department of the Justus Liebig University of Giessen.

We will keep you updated on the results of this study.

– Frank Shagega & Fabia Codalli –

March 16th, 2023

50 years KINAPA and price of long-term research for Andreas Hemp

On March 15th and 16th, 2023, the 50th anniversary of Kilimanjaro National Park was celebrated with various events. On the first day, TANAPA/KINAPA organized a day-long symposium at the Kilimanjaro Region Commissioner conference hall in Moshi, which brought together stakeholders from the conservation, tourism, and sustainable development fields. Andreas Hemp was one of the presenters at the symposium (Fig. 1) summarizing research on Kilimanjaro with a focus on fires. Dr. Hemp emphasized the need for a fire-fighting airplane to cope with the increasing fire frequency caused by a continuously drier climate, not only for Kilimanjaro but also for Mt Meru and the adjacent Pare Mountains. He also highlighted the importance of restoring forest cover in the region, given that Kilimanjaro has lost more than 50% of its former forest cover in the last 150 years, in order to mitigate changes in regional climatic conditions.

On the second day, a grand celebration was held at KINAPA’s headquarters in Marangu, which was attended by several notable figures, including the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Regional Commissioner of Kilimanjaro, and leaders of TANAPA and KINAPA, along with all the Conservation Commissioners of Tanzanian National Parks. Quite a number of old friends were greeted, including Ephraim Mwangomo, the Conservation Commissioner of Sadaani National Park, who was a PhD student in the first phase of the Kili project, and Betrita Loibooki, the predecessor of Angela Nyaki, the current Conservation Commissioner of KINAPA (Fig. 2).

During the celebration, a number of awards were presented to individuals who had made exceptional contributions to Kilimanjaro National Park. Among the recipients was Andreas Hemp, who received a golden award for his long-term research on the mountain (see video and Fig. 3). In her speech (see video and Fig. 4), Mrs. Thrän-Lardi, the representative of the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam, highlighted the budget of 150 million Euro allocated alone in 2023 to support the Tanzanian National Parks Serengeti, Nyerere and Selous as well as Katavi. She also drew attention to the significant budget of the Kili project, which has been ongoing since 2010 and is focused on improving human well-being, with a budget of approximately 20 million Euro since the programm started. Additionally, Mrs. Thrän-Lardi praised the capacity-building efforts of the Kili project, which have helped to educate Tanzanian scientists, and underscored the strong collaboration among German, Swiss, and Tanzanian universities and institutes, including the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center.

The celebration featured a rich program with several songs specially composed for the occasion to entertain the numerous guests (video).

– Claudia Hemp –

 

January 23rd, 2023

Interview Article: The value of nature – Climbing Kilimanjaro for healing cancer

While dealing with cancer treatment, Prof. Dr. Berta Martín-López climbed Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. She transformed her challenge into a contribution to sustainable development in the region through a fundraising campaign for Tanzanian cancer patients. Her personal engagement follows the scientific engagement in a research project about the impact of nature on people’s wellbeing. This is more than only a story. That’s why she invited Carsten Bruhn from Leuphana’s Hochschulsport, who trained her in the previous year, and her PhD Student Milena Gross, with whom she shared not only a tent for a week but also an experience of a lifetime at the roof of Africa.

For more information, please refer to the full interview article by Stella Eick, Leuphana University Lüneburg: https://www.leuphana.de/en/institutions/faculty/sustainability/news/single-view/2023/01/23/the-value-of-nature.html

 

December 13th, 2022

The long history of German Christmas carols in Kidia/Old Moshi

Probably unique in the Kilimanjaro region and in Tanzania is the custom in the Lutheran Church of Kidia to sing German Christmas carols during the Christmas season.

The first missionary, Robert Faßmann, came to Kidia in 1893 and, with financial help from the Leipzig Mission, built the first Lutheran church in Tanzania (completed in 1901). He began translating the New Testament into the Chagga language. He also brought the first German hymns and translated them. A real “Christmas fan” came with the Leipzig missionary Bruno Gutmann, the third missionary in Kidia (1902-1938). During his 18 years in the region, he fundamentally christianized the native population, conducted extensive ethnological research in addition to his duties as a pastor, and translated many Bible texts into the Chagga language. He even brought back a nativity scene from the Ore Mountains – an area still famous today for its beautiful carved nativity scenes. During Bruno Gutmann’s time, many German Christmas carols became an integral part of the repertoire during the Christmas season in Old Moshi and are still sung today.

As part of our project, we had the idea to have our employees sing a German Christmas carol “Fröhliche Weihnacht überall” to wish you Merry Christmas 2022!

– Claudia Hemp –

October 23rd, 2022

Visit of IGS Linden, Hanover and future collaboration with the Kili-SES Project and the NGO TanzMont

A delegation of eight teachers from the comprehensive school Linden in Hanover, Germany (https.//igs-linden.de) visited the station Kidia on the 23rd of October 2022 and learned about the contents of the Kili-SES project with its subprojects and capacity building in Tanzania. Also, the activities of the NGO TanzMont were explained and the tree nursery and reforested areas on the premises of the Lutheran Parish Kidia were shown. Since 2008, the IGS Linden has a partnership with Natiro Secondary School, a school in a parish not far from Kidia on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro, with numerous mutual visits of their schools in Natiro and in Hanover over the years. Since Natiro Secondary School focuses also on environmental matters, a collaboration with the NGO TanzMont seems fruitful and also an exchange of knowledge with the Kili-SES project was discussed. As a sign of collaboration, thirty indigenous but also some fruit trees were given to Natiro Secondary School to be planted on their compound by their students. We do hope that an active exchange and common activities between the IGS Linden on the one and Natiro Secondary School on the other hand will be the outcome of this meeting.

– Claudia Hemp –

October 11th, 2022

MRADI WA KILI SES WAKUTANISHA WANAFUNZI MBALI MBALI DUNIANI MKOANI KILIMANJARO

MRADI wa KILI SES umewakutanisha wanafunzi mbalimbali dunian Mkoani Kilimanjaro lengo ni kufanya utafiti wa mazingira katika maeneo yanayozunguka mlima  Kilimanjaro. Akizungumza na waandishi wa habari Mkoani Kilimanjaro Meneja wa mradi huo Claudia Hemp amesema kuwa wanafanya utafiti wa aina mbalimbali ili kuangalia ni namna gani wataaweza kuboresha mazingira . Ameyasema kuwa wanafanya utafiti kuangalia ni jinsi gani watu wanaweza kuishi bila kufanya uharibifu wa mazingira. Anjela Nyaki akizungumzia mradi huo amesema mraadi huo utakuwa na vitu vingi ambavyo vitasaidia kutunga sera ya juu ya uhifadi wa msitu wa mlima Kilimanjaro na kuleta manufaa kwa wananchi. “Wananchi wanashirikishwa kwenye vitu vingi Kama wale wanaofanya utafiti wa maji na udongo ndani ya hifadhi na nje ya hifadhi ” “lla Mimi kwa upande wangu nitafanya upande wa magharibi wa hifadhi ya mlima Kilimanjaro na nitaangalia zaidi ekolojia ya upande ulle hasa kwenye Ile korido ya kitendem ambayo inaunganisha hifadhi ya mlima Kilimanjaro na maeneo ya mtawanyiko wa sihaa pamoja na hifadhi ya jamii endumert pamoja na kule upande wa kenya kwenye hifadhi ya embosenyi ambapo wanyama wanatoka Kilimanjaro na kushuka mpaka kule Amboseri “Alisema Nyaki. Sambamba na hayo amesema kuwa ataongea na jamii ya kule na kutumia camera traps lengo ni kujua ni aina gani ya wanyama wanatoka mlima Kilimanjaro na kwenda katikaa hifadhi ya emboseri. Kwa upande wa wa wanafunzi walioshiriki akiwemo Neema Robart Kinabo  Mwanafunzi wa Shahada ya Uzamifu kupitia mradi wa Kili Ses amesema kuwa mradi huo ni muhimu sana kwani itaasaidia kuangalia Mahitaji ya kibinadamu , mazingira na namna mazingira yanavyoathiriwa na matumizi mbalimbali ya ardhi pamoja na mabadiliko ya Tabia ya Nchi. Hata hivyo ameishauri jamii kuitunza mazingira ya asili yanayowazunguka kwani wasipoyatunza yatapelekea ukosefu wa mahitaji mbalimbali yanayotokana na Mazingira. John Julius Mwanafunzi wa PHD  amesema kuwa katika utafiti wa awali Umeonesha kuwa wazee wa zamani walikuwa wanatumia maarifa katika kutunza mazingira ya zamani. “Inaonekana kwa sasa vijana wengi wamekuwa wakidharau maarifa hayo na kuona kwamba imepitwa na wakati na ndio maana wengine wanaamua kutoka vijijini na kwenda Kuishi mjini kwa hiyo Sasa wanapoondoka kwenda mjini wale wazee wanakosa watu wa kuwapa Yale maarifa “Alisema. Nao wadau wa mazingira walioshiriki katika mkutano huo akiwemo mchungaji wa Kanisa la kiinjili la kilitheri Tanzania (KKKT) Faustina Mmary amesema kuwa ni wajibu wa Kila mtu kutunza mazingira. “Kwanza kabisa Mungu alivyotumba kazi ya kwanza aliyotupa ni kutunza bustani ya Edeni tuitunze na tuilime ndio kazi ya kwanza tuliyopewa na alitupa wanyama tuwaite majina Kama maandiko yanavyosema”

Source: MRADI WA KILI SES WAKUTANISHA WANAFUNZI MBALI MBALI DUNIANI MKOANI KILIMANJARO – Matukio Daima-Mzee wa matukio (matukiodaimamedia.co.tz)

October 3rd to 8th, 2022

Kili-SES Kick-off meeting from 3rd to 8th of October 2022

Finally, after many delays due to the Corona pandemic, the Kili-SES research group came together in Tanzania.

On 4th of October the official meeting was held at the Lutheran Uhuru Hotel & Conference Center in Moshi where counterparts and representatives of the major Tanzanian authorities were invited to participate (Fig. 1-7). There, supervisors and students of the seven subprojects reported about their progress, Rev Faustine Kahwa and Rev Sayuni Shao introduced the NGO TanzMont to the group, representatives of the Kilimanjaro project gave a vivid presentation of their tree planting activities and, at the end, Dr Charles Kilawe from the Sokoine University and Dr Claudia Hemp gave an overview of the CONTAN project as well as the field classes that took place in September on the station Nkweseko and were organized for about 100 students coming from the Sokoine University, the University of Dar es Salaam, and the College of Wildlife Management Mweka.

On 5th of October an excursion led to some of the Kili-SES research plots where the different landuse types and some of the installations and activities undertaken on the plots were explained. The group first visited the homegarden 4 plot at the eastern slopes (Fig. 8) where Dr Andreas Hemp gave an overview of the history and the vegetation of the so-called Chagga homegardens at Kilimanjaro. Frank Shagega and Fabia Codalli explained installations measuring for example soil humidity (Fig. 9), and Giovanni Bianco demonstrated how to obtain samples from high trees (Fig. 10). Afterwards, the excursion went to the permanent plot Maize 3 near Uchira, a fully agriculturally used area (Fig. 11). During this hot day, some of the participants enjoyed a ride on the roof rack with an unexpected shower from a broken water pipe near the plot Savanna 2 (Fig. 12; Video 1). On this last station of the excursion program, a typical savanna woodland and some associated plant species were shown and it was explained how recent biomass measurements have been taken there with the method of field map. After turning stones, even two scorpions of the species Hottentotta eminii were encountered (Fig. 15), typical inhabitants of savanna woodlands around Kilimanjaro. Our student Koggani Koggani found a shady place in one of the larger trees, resting from the exciting excursion….(Fig. 16).

On Thursday 6th and Friday 7th of October the group remained partly on the station for working group discussions or visited different stakeholders where the students showed their supervisors around.

On Saturday 8th of October the group visited the second scientific station of the Kili-SES Project and the headoffice of the NGO TanzMont in Kidia. After seeing the tree nursery (Fig. 17), a replanted area was shown with the oldest trees being eight years old and including a replanted tree of the tallest tree species of Africa, Entandophragma excelsum (Fig. 18). A lunch with typical Chagga dishes followed, including self-made sugarcane juice. The group went, well-fed, to the nearby submontane Msaranga valley for some excercise ending in a high waterfall, however, with little water before the coming short rains (Fig. 19).

All in all, it was an informative and fruitful week, hopefully especially for supervisors visiting Tanzania and the Kilimanjaro area for the first time and counterparts being new to the project.

– Claudia Hemp – 

Video 1. Kili-SES excursion on October 5th
September 29th, 2022

CONTAN Project: Field practical training on biodiversity monitoring and conservation at the scientific station Nkweseko, Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

The CONTAN project is an Erasmus+ Capacity-building project in the field of higher education “Developing curricula for biodiversity monitoring and conservation in Tanzania”. The project aims to build the capacity of students in the field of higher education for monitoring and conservation of biodiversity in Tanzania. During three weeks, from September 11th to 30th 2022, field training was conducted at the scientific station Nkweseko. The participants, affiliated to Sokoine University at Morogoro, University of Dar es Salaam and the College of African Wildlife Management at Mweka (Fig. 2), Kilimanjaro, were offered several training units. Dr Andreas Hemp, University of Bayreuth, showed them how to install vegetation plots, how to record vegetation with the method of Braun-Blanquet and how to record and evaluate climatic data (Fig. 3). Petr Blazek from IFER – Monitoring and Mapping Solutions introduced the method „field map“ (Fig. 4). This program is used for the allocation of forest ecosystems and data. Thus, it is possible to more easily determine biomass storage of any given plot with a stand of trees (Fig. 5). Prof Sigrid Liede-Schumann from the Department Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, offered training on plant taxonomy and biodiversity monitoring (Fig. 6). Students learned about flower morphology and how to describe a new species. Dr Claudia Hemp (University of Bayreuth and Bik-F, Senckenberg) led the groups to savanna habitats around Lake Chala at eastern Kilimanjaro (Fig. 7), where the basics of entomology were shown and students had to actively catch arthropods (Fig. 8, 9). These were determined with the help of available identification books (Fig. 10). All in all, almost 100 students from the three institutions had the opportunity to learn about field methods of biodiversity monitoring. Impressive was the vehicle the College of Wildlife Management Mweka used for the transport of students to the field sites (Fig. 11).

– Claudia Hemp –

Links to Sokoine webpage:

Field practical training on biodiversity monitoring and conservation – Department of Ecosystems and Conservation | Sokoine University of Agriculture (sua.ac.tz)

Students learning field map technology for forestry inventory and monitoring – Department of Ecosystems and Conservation | Sokoine University of Agriculture (sua.ac.tz)

Field practical training on Plant Taxonomy and Biodiversity Conservation – Department of Ecosystems and Conservation | Sokoine University of Agriculture (sua.ac.tz)

Field practical training on entomology – hands-on learning experience with insects – Department of Ecosystems and Conservation | Sokoine University of Agriculture (sua.ac.tz)

 

September 29th, 2022

Field work and field trip to beehive fence project in West Kilimanjaro

Eugenia Degano (SP2), Prof. Berta-Martín-Lopez, Milena Gross (both SP3), and Susann Adloff (SP4) visited the beehive fence project in West Kilimanjaro in early September (See here: https://www.tef.or.tz/co-existence/). The project initiated by the Tanzanian Elephant Foundation (TEF) fosters human-elephant coexistence , while supporting social engagement and cohesion in the community and providing livelihoods. The mitigation strategy makes use of ‘biological control‘: Elephants are very sensitive to bee stings. After the expansion of Kilimanjaro National Park and the relocation of settlements into the migratory pathways of elephants in West Kilimanjaro, severe human-elephant conflicts, including killing of elephants, have emerged, as the elephants would fed on the crops and destroy the agricultural fields. TEF in collaboration with local communities have been building a beehive fence around the agricultural fields, preventing elephants from entering and crop-riding and reclaiming harmony between people and elephants in West Kilimanjaro.

Richard, a community member of the Beehive Fence Project, accompanied us during the field trip and confirmed the success of the project. He is particularly happy about the harmony between people and elephants and gaining economic benefits from selling the ‘Elephant friendly‘ honey which can be bought in different places in Moshi.

In addition, Mr Lameck Mkuburu, founder of Tanzanian Elephant Foundation, has been supporting the Kili SES project by providing excellent information in the interview phase, and now by answering our survey and providing new contacts of nature conservationists. Representatives of the Kili SES project have contributed to the project by preparing and hanging a beehive to promote human-elephant coexistence in West Kilimanjaro. Good luck with such role model project!

– Milena Gross –

September 1st, 2022

Kili-SES Survey: training week and kick-off of sampling process

Six Kili-SES subprojects are interested in social data to understand the role of nature for human well-being in the Kilimanjaro Socio-Ecological System. Therefore, we want to survey more than 600 people who live in, work at and visit Kilimanjaro. This can be achieved only through a team effort: 20 scientists and research assistants coordinate the sampling process and interview survey respondents. During a training week, members of each subproject presented and demonstrated their sections, practiced together in teams or in the whole group, and gave each other feedback. We also shared our expectations for the sampling process to come and wrote a team agreement together. Thanks to these intense and long days at our research station and everybody’s engagement, every survey member is now an expert in coordinating and conducting the survey, while feeling confident, comfortable, and having fun. We started the sampling process less than two weeks ago and we are very happy to see the first 66 data entries of all stakeholder groups being submitted to our Kili-SES survey database. We are grateful for everybody’s contribution who participates in the survey as respondents and / or supports the sampling process. Asante sana!

– Milena Gross –

 

August 12th, 2022

Publication: Researcher from the University of Bayreuth discovers new orchid species in the mountains of Tanzania

Bayreuth biologist PD Dr. Andreas Hemp has discovered a previously unknown orchid species of the genus Rhipidoglossum in northeastern Tanzania. Together with his British colleague Dr. Phil Cribb from the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, London, he has scientifically described it in the journal “Kew Bulletin”. The new species was named Rhipidoglossum pareense, in keeping with its location in the South Pare Mountains.

The most striking feature of the newly discovered orchid, which is only a few centimeters tall, is its white flowers. If the orchid is held against the sunlight, the flowers appear to glisten. The flowers are smaller but more numerous than those of the closest related orchid species, Rhipidoglossum leedalii. The inflorescence is much more compact and resembles that of a lily of the valley. Rhipidoglossum pareense grows in cloud forest at an altitude above 1,500 meters, where it was discovered by Dr. Andreas Hemp during research work. The trees here only reach a height of ten meters and are densely covered with mosses, ferns and orchids. Rhipidoglossum pareense also belongs to these epiphytes.

“The now discovered orchid species probably owes its existence to the very unusual climatic conditions. In the cloud forests of the South Pare Mountains, although it often rains only 700 millimeters a year, there is also the fog precipitation, which is two to three times this amount. This mountainous region in northeastern Tanzania is truly a botanical El Dorado. Recently, I also discovered a new species of acanthus here, and the taxonomic description will be published soon,” says PD Dr. Andreas Hemp from the Department of Plant Systematics at the University of Bayreuth.

In the course of his studies on the biodiversity and ecology of African forests, the Bayreuth biologist has established vegetation study plots on numerous mountains. On each plot, he has completely recorded and documented the species composition of the vegetation. In total, the resulting database now comprises several thousand vegetation records. Typical of all tropical mountain rainforests are the epiphytes, which play an important role in water balance and biodiversity. “A lot of luck is involved in finding such small epiphytes as the newly discovered orchid: If it had not bloomed at the right time, it would certainly have gone unnoticed,” says Hemp. In the neighboring Tanzanian Nguru Mountains, which like the South Pare Mountains belong to the Eastern Arc Mountain chain, he found another previously unknown orchid species from the large genus Polystachya during his recent research visit.

Internationally, the leading specialist on orchids in East Africa is Dr. Phil Cribb of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, London. He is the author of the orchid identification volumes of the “Flora of Tropical East Africa”. “After I could not clearly identify the orchid discovered in the South Pare Mountains using these volumes, I asked him for his expertise. Together we then described the new species and also chose the name Rhipidoglossum pareense,” reports Hemp, who visits the herbarium at the botanic garden in Kew at least once a year. “The herbarium at Kew contains the world’s most comprehensive collection of plants from East Africa. The long-standing collaboration with the outstanding connoisseurs of African flora there is a valuable support and always a stimulus for my own research work. Such comprehensive collections, which document vegetation from earlier decades and centuries, are indispensable for current biodiversity research,” says the Bayreuth plant systematist.

Source: Press release No. 133/2022 of University of Bayreuth (Researcher from the University of Bayreuth discovers new orchid species in the mountains of Tanzania (uni-bayreuth.de))

Publication: P. J. Cribb, A. Hemp: Rhipidoglossum pareense (Orchidaceae: Epidendroideae), a new species from Tanzania. Kew Bulletin (2022). DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/S12225-022-10027-2

 

August 9th, 2022

Global study explores and weights causes of tree species diversity

The number of tree species growing in regions close to the equator is significantly higher than in regions further north and south of the earth. An international study published in „Nature Ecology and Evolution“ investigates the causes of this with a precision never before achieved. It emphasizes that the diversity of tree species in the tropics does not depend solely on bioclimatic factors. The study is based on a cooperation of 222 universities and research institutions. On the part of the University of Bayreuth, PD Dr. Andreas Hemp, who has been researching vegetation in mountainous regions of East Africa for more than 30 years, was involved in this international research.

The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG) is a pattern often observed in research for the global distribution of plant and animal species. In general, the higher the northern and southern latitude, the lower the species diversity. This is also true for trees, whose species were estimated at 73,000 worldwide in a previous international study. However, the factors that contribute to species diversity in different regions of the world and the degree of their respective influence are far from being adequately researched. The new study, which now examines the diversity of tree species on the world’s forested areas, is based on a systematic analysis of data obtained from around 1.3 million forested sample areas on Earth. The authors list 47 different possible influencing factors and divide them into the following categories: bioclimate, terrain characteristics, vegetation, landscape conditions, human influences and soil conditions. Especially numerous are the bioclimatic influencing factors, for example the temperatures and precipitation in the course of the year.

Research contributions of the University of Bayreuth: Biodiversity on Kilimanjaro

“Never before has there been such a comprehensive and detailed investigation regarding the question of what causes the occurrence of tree species and their diversity in the forested regions of the earth,” says Bayreuth biologist PD Dr. Andreas Hemp of the Chair of Plant Systematics. For more than 30 years, he has been researching the plant world in East Africa together with partners in Europa, Kenya and Tanzania. Within the framework of the joint project “Kili-SES”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), he is investigating the changes in vegetation on Kilimanjaro and the climatic, economic and social causes involved. Together with a team of students and doctoral candidates from Bayreuth, he has established research areas on Kilimanjaro at altitudes between 800 and 4,600 meters. Here, he systematically determined the species diversity of the trees and investigated the main factors that influence it.

Results on tree species diversity worldwide: Stronger anthropogenic influences in the tropics?

On a global scale, the authors of the study came to the following conclusion: In 82.6 percent of forested areas, bioclimatic factors determine species diversity. In contrast, in 11.7 percent of forested areas, species diversity cannot be attributed to a specific category of factors. This global average is significantly exceeded in the equator tropical regions: Here, 37.1 percent of forested areas do not indicate that factors in any particular category have a dominant influence on forest species diversity. At the same time, tree species diversity is significantly higher in these forested areas. Against this background, the study emphasizes: human economic activities, landscape conditions and soil properties influence the diversity of tree species growing in regions close to the equator just as strongly or even significantly more than bioclimatic factors. The influence of the bioclimate has been partly overestimated in previous studies on the species diversity of trees in the tropics.

However, Dr. Andreas Hemp believes that this conclusion is premature: “In our work, we have found that the species composition of the forests on Kilimanjaro and the number of tree species growing here change mainly as a function of temperature and precipitation. Bioclimatic factors therefore play a dominant role. It is true that anthropogenic influences can be seen in many places in the forests of East Africa, especially in connection with the timber industry. But also numerous forest areas in Western and Central Europe have been intensively managed for centuries. Therefore, it does not seem immediately plausible that humans should have a stronger influence on species diversity in the regions around the equator than in our northern latitudes. Furthermore, it is not unproblematic that the study relies on global climate databases. Especially in tropical mountains, where climatic conditions change strongly within a small area and where climate stations are largely missing, the data of such databases with their coarse resolution are very unreliable. With regard to the weighting of factors determining species diversity in tropical forests, further, more refined studies are therefore still needed.” The Bayreuth biologist therefore shares the study’s call for more comprehensive data to be collected with the support of experts from forestry and biodiversity research in order to gain a clearer picture of tree species diversity in forested areas of Africa.

Source: Press release No. 131/2022 of University of Bayreuth (Global study explores and weights causes of tree species diversity (uni-bayreuth.de)

 May 10th, 2022

Mwanga Secondary School visiting the Station Kidia/Old Moshi

On May 10th, thirty students and five teachers from Mwanga Secondary School, North Pare visited the station Kidia to learn about the impact of environmental and climate change in the Kilimanjaro region. Mwanga Secondary School is partner of the Humboldt school in Bad Homburg (https://humboldtschule-hg.de/schule/mwanga-schulpartnerschaft.html) which is developing a concept for exchanging digital information on environmental issues with the support of PROBONO, an NGO located in Frankfurt am Main (https://www.probono-oneworld.de/). The Tanzanian students were therefore recording their visit to Kidia in order to share it afterwards with their partner school. The tour started in the tree nursery where saplings were reared for being replanted in degraded areas around Kilimanjaro. Afterwards, the reforested area on the premises of the Lutheran Parish Kidia was visited where a degraded area devoid of trees was rehabilitated 8 years ago. Here, pioneer tree species were planted at first, followed by shade-tolerant trees once an initial forest had formed. The species were partly selected because of their precious timber and their critical conservation status, such as Oxystigma msoo or Garcinia tanzaniensis. During the tour, it was discussed why indigenous tree species were much better for the environment than introduced tree species widely planted in Tanzania such as Eucalyptus or Grevillea. The students were especially interested in a probably new tree species in the genus Haplocoelum, detected in a forest reserve in the North Pare Mountains. The medicinal properties of the trees were also highlighted showing that trees are not only important because of their timber, but that they have multiple functions for a healthy environment. The grand finale of the tour was the two-year old sapling of the tallest tree species of Africa, Entandophragma excelsum.

 – Claudia Hemp –

 March 10 to April 1, 2022

SP3 team hosts successful workshop at Leuphana University to kick-off the Kili-SES Survey

From March 30th to April 1st, members of the Kili-SES Project with natural and social science background met at Leuphana University of Lüneburg to start developing the Kili-SES Survey questionnaire. The main agenda items of the workshop were to a) design the survey questionnaire, b) discuss collaborations between sub-projects (SPs)s, c) identify future needs and d) plan the months ahead.

The main output was an initial draft of the Kili-SES Survey questionnaire with an outline of the main sections. This survey is a crucial step within the Kili-SES project as the data will be used by members across all SPs. During the workshop, working groups were created to focus on crucial logistical issues such as sampling strategies, software set-up, permits and other fieldwork practicalities. A feedback session was also held the last day of the workshop to assess those dynamics that worked and those that still have room for improvement, something to be considered at future workshops held within the Kili-SES Project. The mobility breaks, ´walk & talk´ in the forest, and setting expectations for the workshop were some of the key highlights noted by the attendees. 

Overall, the SP3 team was happy to host this workshop which left everyone feeling motivated to move forward and continue working on the Kili-SES Survey together.

 – Jasmine Pearson, Berta Martín-López, John Sanya Julius & Milena Groß –

March 18, 2022

First phase of SP3 field work successfully completed

Dr. Jasmine Pearson, John Julius and Milena Gross finished their first phase of field work from January to March 2022. With support from their two field assistants, Joyce Joseph Massawe and Victor Lazaro Pallangyo, the SP3 team conducted semi-structured interviews with 42 Chagga people and other local farmers, 31 interviewees in the role of nature conservationists from e.g. governmental institutions and international and local non-governmental organizations as well as 20 interviewees in the role of international and local tour operators / guides.
The purpose of these interviews was to gather context-specific information on the demand and values for nature’s contributions to people (NCP) across key stakeholder groups. Participants were asked questions such as `Do you think nature at Mount Kilimanjaro is important (to you / your family / society)?’ / `What does nature at Mount Kilimanjaro contribute to your well-being and quality of life?‘ and `What is your relationship with nature at Mount Kilimanjaro?‘
Moreover, Dr. Jasmine Pearson facilitated a focus group discussion (FGD) with 19 nature conservationists. The main objectives were to select representative photos of 13 ecosystems and land use types of Mt Kilimanjaro, and to complement the interview data collected by John and Milena on the beneficial and detrimental contributions of nature to people.
The responses from the interviews and the FGD will be used to develop a larger-scale, quantitative survey with close-ended questions to elicit a representative sample of  the demand and values of NCP. The photos from the FGD will also be used within the survey to gain an understanding of NCP across the 13 ecosystems and land use types. This next fieldwork endeavor will be completed in collaboration with other sub-projects of the Kili-SES Research Units. The survey will be conducted with ca. 500 participants from July 2022 onwards.

The SP3 team is grateful for each unique and valuable contribution of the interviewees and focus group participants for their research, personal learning processes and the wider Kili-SES project.

– Milena Groß, John Julius & Jasmine Pearson –

March 10, 2022

Visit of the German Ambassador of Dar es Salaam to the scientific stations Kidia & Nkweseko

On March 10th the German Ambassador, Mrs. Regine Heß, visited the Kili-SES Project. An overview of the Kili-SES project with its goals and the structure of seven subprojects was presented to her. In Kidia the nursery of the NGO TanzMont was visited showing tree saplings of indigenous species currently in the nursery for being planted out in April this year during the long rains. A tour through a plantation on the premises of Kidia Lutheran Parish followed with first trees set 8 years ago. After some years shade-tolerant tree species such as Entandophragma excelsum, the tallest tree species of Africa, were planted here. Fig. 1 B shows a two-year-old sapling of Entandophragma already being more than 3 m tall. In Kidia the oldest Lutheran church of Tanzania is located where the famous Dr Bruno Gutmann started one of the earliest missions in Tanzania. The old church was visited (renovated a few years ago also with funds of the German Embassy) and some of the history of the place presented. A hike to the nearby Msaranga valley ending in a huge waterfall followed (Fig. 2). The NGO TanzMont planted here numerous trees to restore the riverine forest. A visit to the station Nkweseko followed where Mrs. Heß inspected the infrastructure (Fig. 1 A). PhD student Giovanni Bianco presented his PhD and also explained in the name of the other PhD students of Kili-SES how students cope with logistics and their fieldwork.

We thank Ambassador Heß for the time she spent with us and her interest in the Kili-SES Project!

 – Claudia Hemp –

February 14, 2022

Kili-SES engages three secondary schools to record weather data on the southern slopes of Kilimanjaro

The “Water-Team” (SP1-WP2) is proud to announce that three secondary schools have been engaged to support the recording of weather data in the Kili-SES study area as part of our ambition to increase participatory research. Weather data such as precipitation, barometric pressure, air temperature and humidity, wind speed and direction as well as solar radiation are important to estimate components of the water balance and to build reliable hydrological models. These data are not only needed to achieve our research objectives, but they can be used for agricultural, climate monitoring, weather forecasting and other applications which can benefit stakeholders and the society. For that reason, we decided to support the Trans-African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory project (TAHMO, https://tahmo.org/). The project aims to develop a vast network of high-resolution weather stations (recording every 5 minutes) across sub-Saharan Africa and to ensure free data availability for research purposes and for national meteorological agencies. One way to contribute to the project is by acquiring weather stations, installing them in a safe place (e.g. in schools) and thus increasing the spatial coverage of the network. We decided to work together with secondary schools. This is not only for security reasons, but most importantly because the stations will be incorporated in the schools’ teaching programs. In fact, both teachers and students will be engaged with the data collection and analysis as well as with the maintenance of the stations. The idea is to make science a natural part of students’ lives by seeing how the weather data from their own schools translate into quantitative information.

You can find the locations of our weather stations on the TAHMO website, zooming in the Kilimanjaro southern slopes: https://tahmo.org/climate-data/. The locations were selected with the purpose to capture the altitudinal variability along the slope as well as the spatial variability from the western, central and eastern part of the study area.

– Fabia Codalli –

September 3, 2021

Publication: Deadwood as a carbon store: Insects accelerate decomposition on Mount Kilimanjaro

All over the world, climatic influences, insects and other arthropods, as well as microorganisms cause a constant decomposition of deadwood. This natural decomposition releases significant amounts of carbon into the environment and therefore has a major impact on the Earth’s carbon cycle. This has been proven by a new study published in Nature. The speed and causes of deadwood decomposition were investigated at 55 forest sites on six continents. Dr. Andreas Hemp and Dr. Claudia Hemp from the University of Bayreuth investigated deadwood decomposition in different climatic zones on Mount Kilimanjaro.

For more information, please refer to the press release of the University of Bayreuth: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/en/university/press/press-releases/2021/120-deadwood-kilimanjaro/index.html

Publication: Seibold et al.: The contribution of insects to global forest deadwood decomposition. Nature (2021). DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03740-8.

August 27, 2021

Award: Katrin Böhning-Gaese, speaker of Kili-SES, receives this year’s German Environmental Award

The Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU) is awarding this year’s German Environmental Award totaling 500,000 Euros to two internationally renowned individuals for outstanding achievements in their scientific disciplines to protect species, the climate and the environment: Prof. Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese for her cutting-edge research on the importance of biodiversity for the planet and humans, and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans Joosten for his decades of scientific work on peatlands as climate protectors – and the serious consequences of peatland drainage for global warming. “The German Environmental Award 2021 should be a signal: We only have one earth. And we must treat the diversity of life with care,” said DBU Secretary General Alexander Bonde. “The two award winners have made an outstanding contribution on this.” The DBU’s German Environmental Award will be presented by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on October 10 in Darmstadt.

Source: Press release of Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU), in German; Translation: DeepL, Mathias Templin

August 26, 2021

Publication: New study demonstrates significant carbon storage in African mountain forests

The tropical mountain forests of Africa store more carbon per hectare in their above-ground biomass than all other tropical forests on earth. With this great storage capacity, which was previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to be considerably lower, they have made a major contribution to climate protection. This is the conclusion of a study published in Nature by an international network of researchers who are urging for the preservation of these carbon-rich ecosystems. Dr. Andreas Hemp from the University of Bayreuth and his team investigated carbon stocks in the mountain forests of Kilimanjaro.

For more information, please refer to the press release by the University of Bayreuth: https://www.uni-bayreuth.de/en/university/press/press-releases/2021/114-carbon-montane-forests/index.html

Publication: Aida Cuni-Sanchez et al.: High aboveground carbon stock of African tropical montane forests. Nature (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03728-4

April 26, 2021

Virtual Kili-SES Kick-off Meeting

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our Kick-off Meeting unfortunately had to take place virtually. The goals of this meeting were to familiarize the new PhD students and PostDocs with the overall research questions, the research design and methodology of Kili-SES and to faciliate the communication between the natural and social sciences.

March 31, 2021

Publication: New “Field Guide to Bushcrickets, Wetas and Raspy Crickets of Tanzania and Kenya” by Claudia Hemp

This new field guide covers northern to central Tanzania, southern Kenya, and parts of central Kenya. For species-rich genera, morphological details are provided, together with keys to genera and species as well as distribution maps for most taxa. The enclosed DVD features the songs of 185 species.

For more information see publications page https://kili-ses.senckenberg.de/en/publications/literature/