About biodiversity

Biodiversity or biological diversity is the diversity of life, meaning plant and animal species richness and abundance in  an area. Biodiversity is commonly identified at three levels.

  1. Genetic diversity, which is the diversity of genes within a species.There is a genetic variability among the populations and the individuals of the same species.
  2. Species diversity or diversity among species in an ecosystem. "Biodiversity hotspots" are excellent examples of species diversity.
  3. Ecosystem diversity, diversity at a higher level of organization, the ecosystem. This has to do with the variety of ecosystems on Earth.

Kenya is a mega bio-diverse country with over 35,000 species of flora and fauna. The species diversity is dominated by insects. This diversity is served by the variable ecosystems ranging from marine, mountains, tropical, dry lands, forests and arid lands. In addition to these are some 467 inland lake and wetland habitats covering about 2.5% of the total area. Kenyan forests are endowed with a rich array of plant and animal life. Some of the species endemic to the forest habitats are found nowhere else in the world. Since species richness tends to correlate with the annual amount of rainfall, wetter forests are richer in species. Consequently, Kakamega Forest has the richest plant diversity in Kenya. However, coastal forests have more values as centers of endemism with many plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world.

Pic: Elephants in a national park.


Pic: Rhino species around a wetland

Biodiversity is mainly in forests and wildlife parks and reserves. According to reports, about 10-12 percent of Kenya’s land area is designated protected area and the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) manages about 8% of this area. 20% of the land area is under agriculture and also simultaneously supports most of the human

population. The remaining 70% of the land area is mostly rangeland.

Kenya’ biodiversity has over the years been harnessed for development of its economy and to sustain the social cultural system.“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net’.Biodiversity touches every aspect of our lives in that in addition to playing a critical role in providing food, fibre, water, energy, medicines and other genetic materials, biodiversity is equally important in regulating climate, water quality, pollution, pollination, flooding and storm surges.

Woodland in the Aberdare Ranges, Nyeri County.Most of Kenya’s woodlands are a patchwork of habitats, ranging from heavy tree cover to fragmentary woodland patches and invasive bushlands and grasslands. © P. Wargute /DRSRS. Source