News and media coverage

 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 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 –

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 –

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/