Last month Brackenhurst Conference and Retreat Centre were proud to welcome Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) for meetings focused on The Global Biodiversity Standards. The meetings were hosted by our partner, the Centre for Ecological Restoration Kenya (CER-K) who are located on the Brackenhurst campus.
The Global Biodiversity Standard addresses the challenge of tree planting programmes, some of which are inadvertently causing harm to our world’s ecosystems. It provides assurance that tree planting, habitat restoration and agroforestry practices are protecting, restoring, and enhancing biodiversity.
The meetings provided a forum for BGCI and CER-K to share best practices and continue to build capacity for plant conservation activities at Brackenhurst, one of only two Global Biodiversity Standard Hubs in Kenya.
CER-K is a non-profit organisation based in Kenya that is dedicated to promoting ecological restoration and conservation. Its mission is to restore degraded ecosystems and create sustainable livelihoods through community involvement, research, and advocacy. Its activities focus on five key areas in three different ecosystems:
CER-K has partnered with Brackenhurst to support the continued ecological restoration efforts on the 100-acre indigenous forest, which had been degraded by human activities. Restoration work at Brackenhurst began in 2000 to restore the forest ecosystem through a variety of activities.
Over 300 accessioned species including many rare and threatened indigenous tree species have been planted. A further measure of success is the survival of more than 90% of these trees for more than 5 years. This activity has increased forest cover, improved soil health, and provided a habitat for wildlife. A stream also now flows through the forest 365 days a year whereas other streams in the region are seasonal only.
CER-K have put in place mechanisms to monitor the growth of wildlife in the forest. The number of bird species has increased from 30 to 180 since 2000 and colobus monkeys returned to the forest after more than 80 years of absence. Other wildlife has also returned including sykes’ monkeys, civet cats, genet cats, porcupines, bats, African hedgehogs, bush pigs, bushbabies, and many more mammals, birds, and insects.
Brackenhurst is proud to be the location of a Seed Bank with the capacity to store 10 million seeds. CER-K aim to store more than 60 native tree species from highlands and dryland ecosystems by the end of 2023. The seeds are being collected from varied provenance to improve resilience and the CER-K seed bank and nurseries provide a safe house to protect and propagate these rare, endangered, and indigenous tree species for restoration efforts across Kenya.
Brackenhurst is also home to the first BGCI-certified Botanic Garden in Kenya and has an ArbNet Level III accredited Arboretum.
Research continues with an ongoing partnership between CER-K and Nottingham Trent University who have funded 2 PhDs based from Brackenhurst. They are continuing their support with a £100,000 research facility which should be operational by the end of this year.
The team at CER-K are delighted to share more about the work they are doing at Brackenhurst and its other research and restoration hubs. With advance notice, tours can be organised here. Tours include guided walks in the forest where visitors can learn more about the indigenous plants and wildlife.
Tours can be booked as part of a day trip to Brackenhurst Conference and Retreat Centre, where you can enjoy lunch at Muna Tree Café, or your organisation can incorporate a visit with CER-K into your conference or retreat.
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