Dakatcha Nature Reserve provides a protected area for the Sokoke
Scops Owl, Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew, and other precious inhabitants of the Dakatcha Woodland.
It also offers an opportunity for communities around the reserve to engage in habitat protection and restoration, and provides sustainable income-generating activities.
Subject: Forest conservation | Location: Kenya coast
Dakatcha Woodland KBA is critical forest for the conservation of 13 IUCN Red Listed species. It is currently being cleared for charcoal and agriculture at an alarming rate. A Rocha Kenya is purchasing land to create a Nature Reserve and safeguard this indigenous forest and its threatened wildlife.
Africa’s smallest owl, the Sokoke Scops Owl occurs only in three places in the world – one of them being a 10 x 4 km patch of forest in the Dakatcha Woodland Key Biodiversity Area.
But this forest is unprotected and as a result is being cut down for charcoal, timber and pineapple plantations. We are buying land to save the forest from being destroyed and create the A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve.
Join our campaign to save the forest! Donate now:
Size of the forest: 1,800 km2
Conservation status: designated a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) by BirdLife International and
forms part of the East African Coastal Forests Hotspot defined by Conservation International.
Habitat: Dakatcha Woodland is located about 150 km north of Mombasa and 25-50 km inland
from the coast. It covers an area of 465 070 acres, of which 32% is forest, 17% is woodland,
and 50% has been converted to farming or open grazing land. Dakatcha lies within the Northern
Zanzibar-Inhambane Coastal Forest Mosaic ecoregion and East African Coastal Forest Hotspot,
characterised by a complex mix of moist and drier forest with coastal thicket, savanna
woodlands and swamps. The Woodland itself is a diverse mosaic of different forest types,
savannah and seasonal wetlands.
Notable wildlife: 13 Red Listed species, including four that IUCN classify as Endangered: the
Sokoke Scops Owl Otus ireneae, Clarke’s Weaver Ploceus golandi, the Sokoke Pipit Anthus
sokokensis and the Golden-rumped Elephant-shrew Rhynchocyon chrysopygus.
Dakatcha Woodland is part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa, among the 10 most
threatened forest hotspots in the world which supports one of the highest densities of endemic species in the world.
Threats to the forest
The fragmented Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa are among the ten most threatened forest
hotspots in the world, and the Dakatcha IBA is listed as an IBA in Danger, with a very high
threat score and a low action score. At a regional level, the pressure on land is intensifying as
population increases, small holders and industrial agricultural expand, and coastal urban
The growing local population depends on the forest resources for their energy, construction
needs, food and livelihoods. As a result, deforestation and poaching of wildlife, including the Golden-rumped Sengi, are rife. Brachylaena huillensis trees have almost disappeared due to selective harvesting for the wood carving industry, and the timber from large hardwood trees (e.g. Newtonia hildebrandtii) is sold in coastal towns.
Agriculture is the main economic activity for local communities, making land their most valuable asset. Pineapples have become an important source of income for local farmers because they grow particularly well on the red soils. Local regulations give little consideration to the immense pressure placed on the forest, and poor farming methods leave the soil exposed for erosion.
The pressure on the land was compounded by the start of land adjudication in the area in
September 2020. This has set off an unprecedented rush of people land purchasing for farms
closely linked to charcoal burning that is decimating the forest and destroying the home of the
rare and endangered wildlife. The easy availability of power saws to cut trees for charcoal and
motorbikes to transport charcoal to Malindi has exasperated the situation further.
At site level, agricultural expansion, unregulated logging, rampant charcoal burning and the
expansion of commercial pineapple plantations are rapidly destroying and degrading what is left of the unique forest habitat.
With easy access to chainsaws and motorbikes to transport charcoal, forest clearing has
intensified in recent months, and this indigenous forest is being burnt down at an alarming rate.
We must act now, before it is too late!
Where we work and our training
In Kenya, A Rocha has worked with communities in several parts of the country with projects in
Nairobi, Kajiado and Kilifi Counties. Currently, our focus is in the Dakatcha Woodlands north and
inland of Malindi, and around Arabuko-Sokoke Forest. Training involves taking time through
churches to teach about what the bible says regarding caring for the environment after which a two-day training in the actual FGW method is carried out.
This covers the following topics:
- The Biblical perspective of farming and creation care.
- Ecological Interactions (Trees, birds, butterflies, ants, worms and their role in the farm)
- Principles and practice of
- Farming God’s Way
- Natural ways of controlling pests and diseases
- Natural ways of boosting soil fertility including composting, liquid fertilizers, fertilizer trees among others
- Energy-saving at the household level
The focus in Dakatcha revolves around the A Rocha Dakatcha Nature Reserve which we are
creating to protect globally threatened species and habitat – in particular the Sokoke Scops Owl and Golden-rumped Sengi (also known as an elephant-shrew). Baseline biodiversity surveys are being carried out by the A Rocha research team while at the same time our community and environmental education team are working with the adjacent communities using the churches and schools as a gateway to reach farmers and families to teach them FGW and overall care for the environment and hopefully stop the destructive practices of charcoal burning and unsustainable logging for timber.