The future of environmental sustainability in the Taita Hills, Kenya: assessing potential impacts of agricultural expansion and climate change
The indigenous cloud forests in the Taita Hills, Kenya, have suffered substantial degradation due to agricultural expansion. Currently, only one per cent of the original forested area remains preserved. Furthermore, climate change imposes an imminent threat for local economy and environmental sustainability. In such circumstances, elaborating tools to conciliate socio-economic growth and natural resources conservation is an enormous challenge. This article aims to tackle essential aspects for understanding the ongoing agricultural activities in the area and their environmental consequences. An alternative method is proposed to reduce uncertainties and costs for estimating agricultural water demand. The main characteristic of this approach is the use of satellite data to overcome data availability limitations. The study results indicate that if current trends persist, agricultural areas will occupy roughly 60 per cent of the area by 2030, increasing irrigation requirement significantly.