Monitoring of Water Towers

Monitoring of Water Towers

KFWG is a National NGO concerned with all forests but currently working in these key areas :

Water towers – KFWG carries out monitoring of five key forests, the “water towers”, every two years to determine their status. This activity, carried out through the study of satellite images, started in 2002. KFWG shares information from this study with government, politicians and other stakeholders in order for remedial action to be taken where necessary. The five “water towers” are Mt Kenya, Aberdare Range, Mau Complex forests, Cherangani Hills and Mt Elgon. In addition, KFWG has been carrying out an advocacy campaign since 2001 – the Mau forests advocacy campaign – to have the forests of the Mau protected.

Aberdare Range

The Aberdare Range is located in central Kenya on the Equator. The Range stretches over 125 kilometres from Nyahururu in the North to Limuru in the South. It is the third highest mountain in Kenya, with two main peaks, Oldonyo Lesatima (also known as Sattima) and Kinangop, which reach, respectively, altitudes of 4,001 and 3,906 metres. The Range presents a deeply dissected topography sloping gradually to the east. In contrast, the western side drops along impressive fault escarpments towards the Rift Valley.

Various vegetation zones can be distinguished on the Aberdare Range, including the closed-canopy forest belt, the bamboo zone, the sub-alpine and alpine vegetation. The forest belt covers a major part of the range. Most of the forest is gazetted as forest reserves. However, parts of the upper forest zone fall within the Aberdare National Park.

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Mt Kenya

Mount Kenya is located on the equator 180 Km north of Nairobi. It is a solitary mountain of volcanic origin with a base diameter of about 120 Km. Its broad cone shape reaches an altitude of 5199 m with deeply incised U-shaped valleys in the upper parts.

Various vegetation zones can be distinguished on Mount Kenya. Forest vegetation covers the major part of the mountain. Most of the indigenous forest is protected within the national reserve with some small areas falling within Mt. Kenya National Park.
Mount Kenya plays a critical role in water catchment for the country and is one of the five main “water towers” of Kenya with Aberdare Range, Mau Complex, Cherangani Hills and Mt Elgon, all providing most of the nation’s water.

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Mau Complex forests

The forests of the Mau Complex when combined cover an area of over 400,000 ha. The Mau Complex is the largest remaining closed canopy forest block in Eastern Africa. It is situated at 0°30‘ South, 35°20‘ East and in the Rift ValleyProvince and spans across four administrative districts: Narok, Nakuru, Bomet and Kericho.

Forests that constitute the complex include Transmara, OlPusimoru, Maasai Mau, Eastern Mau, Mau Narok, South West Mau, Western Mau, Mt. Londiani, Eburru, Molo and SouthMolo. The northern part comprises Tinderet, Northern Tinderet, Timboroa, Nabkoi, Kilombe Hill, Metkei, Maji Mazuri,Chemorogok and Lembus forests. The Mau Forest Complex is one of the five water towers in Kenya, providing the upper catchments of many major rivers, including Nzoia, Yala, Nyando, Sondu, Mara, Kerio, Molo, Ewaso Ngiro, Njoro, Nderit,Makalia, and Naishi. These rivers in turn feed major lakes, including Natron, Victoria, Turkana, Baringo and Nakuru. The forests of the Mau Complex are also very rich in flora and fauna.

The original vegetation pattern followed an altitudinal gradient with local topographical ecoclines. The closed canopy moist montane forest at lower altitudes becomes increasingly intermixed with bamboo from 2,200 m onwards. Between 2,300 and 2,500 m pure bamboo (Arundinaria alpina) swards are found. Above 2,500 m this gives way to mixed bamboo/tree stands, both associated with grass clearings that usually represent a sub-climax resulting from burning and cutting of bamboo. A marginal type of montane sclerophyll forest occupies the highest altitudes of the Mau complex (Jackson and McCarter, 1994).East Mau has a drier vegetation type of Cedar and Podo. Wherever these species have been extracted, colonising species such as Neuboutonia macrocalyx and Macaranga capensis can be found (Ngoda and Kiruki, 2000).Large areas mainly in the north eastern parts of the reserve have been planted with Pinus patula and Cupressus lusitanica.


Mt. Elgon forests

Mt. Elgon forests are located north of Lake Victoria on the border between Kenya and Uganda. Mt. Elgon is a mountain of volcanic origin, which reaches an altitude of 4,320 metres.

The forest belt is protected as National Park and Forest Reserve; the latter covers 73,706 ha. Mt. Elgon forms the upper catchment area for two major rivers: Nzoia and Turkwel rivers. It also provides water to the Malakisi River that crosses the small scale farming area south of the mountain before entering Uganda. The Nzoia River is a critical river for Western Province where it provides most of the much needed water to highly populated areas before flowing into Lake Victoria. The Nzoia River crosses 123 Sub-locations where the total population amounts to 1,054,283 inhabitants, according to the census undertaken in 1989. The Turkwel River is one of the three major rivers that feed Lake Turkana. Its course provides water to the Turkwel Gorge dam and its hydropower plant. It is the main river that crosses the semiarid and arid areas of the region on the south west side of Lake Turkana.


KFWG Membership Form - Read/Download

Climate Change Act - 2016 - Read/Download

Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016- Read/Download

Kenya Green Economic Strategy & Implementation Plan- Read/Download

Proceedings of the 2nd National Participatory Forest Management Conference - 2014 - Read/Download

The Charcoal Rules and Regulations 2015 - Read/Download

Governance in Kenya Forest Sector - Read / Download

Devolved Forestry Functions Framework - 2015 - Read / Download

Forest (Conservation and Management) Bill,- 2015 - Read / Download

Forests (Conservation and Management) Policy - 2015 - Read / Download

Manual on Forming and Registering Community Forest Associations (CFAs - Read / Download)

Participatory Forest Management Guidelines - Read / Download

Manual on Preparation of a Participatory Forest Management Plan (PFMP) - Read / Download


Our Activities

Capacity Building and Training
Capacity Building and Training
One of the most fundamental ideas associated with capacity building is the idea
Forests Conservation and Management
Forests Conservation and Management
Forests influence climate, landform and soil composition and they exist in a wide variety.
Partnerships and Networking
Partnerships and Networking
Having allies on your side such as national and county government, civil society

Contact Us Today

Kenya Forests Working Group,


East African Wild Life Society,
Riara Road, Off Ngong Road,
P.O. Box, 20110, 00200,



0203874145 or 0203871437 or 0203871335 or 0203870837
+254 20 3874145 or +254 20 3871437 or +254 20 3871335 or +254 20 3870837


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