Integrating mycorrhizal approaches into the conservation and restoration of the sacred kaya Kauma forest fragments and the environs

Joyce Jefwa
Joyce Jefwa
project abstract

The area of study is the UNESCO heritage sacred Kaya Kauma and Kaya Chivara forest fragments within the Coastal region of Kenya (38.5° E and 41.5° E lies between 0° and 5° S), at 300m above sea level. The area experiences low and unpredictable rainfall with frequent severe droughts. The area is characterised by a variety of soil types and minerals. The two sacred forest fragments, 10.7 km apart, were once a continuous forest landscape stretch. It is intercepted by farmlands and settlements, rill and deep gulley erosion. The plant communities form association with ecto-mycorrhizal and arbuscular mycorrhizal. Tree planting is a common activity in the region with limited evidence of success. Root symbionts are overlooked in tree establishments, and yet the relationship may range from facultative to obligate.  The integration of mycorrhizal association into the nursery management of seedlings is important for survival and subsequent establishment of tree seedlings. The use of native mycorrhiza may guarantee more success. 

A total of 24 soil samples and ectomycorrhizal fruit bodies will be collected from distinct points. The samples and specimens will be transferred to the laboratory for characterization of both Ecto- and Arbuscular- mycorrhiza species and mineral analysis. Morphological and molecular methods involving DNA extraction and nested PCR amplification, will be used for the identification. A mycorrhizal inoculum potential assessment will be conducted using the Most Probable Number (MPN) method. An awareness creation will be undertaken to explain to the community nursery groups the role of mycorrhiza in ecosystem functions and plant nursery management. A semi-structured questionnaire will be used to evaluate management of seedlings.  The mycorrhizal status of seedlings from four nurseries will be inoculated and planted near the sacred forest degraded landscape. Community members and school children will be selected to participate in laboratory observation of mycorrhizal fungi.