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The role of indigenous trees for the conservation of biocultural diversity in traditional agroforestry land use systems: The Bungoma case study: In-situ conservation of indigenous tree species

The role of indigenous trees for the conservation of biocultural diversity in traditional agroforestry land use systems: The Bungoma case study: In-situ conservation of indigenous tree species

Agroforestry Systems 52(2): 119-132

ISSN/ISBN: 0167-4366

DOI: 10.1023/a:1010685317405

In order to precisely assess the role of agroforestry for the conservation of (agro-)biological diversity there is a need to adjust sampling methods used in plant sociology. This study is on the contribution of agroforestry land use to the in-situ conservation of indigenous trees within a typical East-African smallholder farming system in Western Kenya. A modified approach to measuring species richness and abundance is presented. The selection of tree-rich structures was done according to management patterns rather than considering syntaxonomic classifications from the vegetation science point of view. This approach, which is better suited to the strongly human-influenced vegetation of agroecosystems, employs between-management unit diversity measures to help evaluate abundance and constancy of species in particular management units. The predominant off-farm vegetation patterns are riverine forests, rocky hillsides, hedgerows, wooded grassland relicts, woodlands or colline forest relicts and tree groves whereas the noticeable tree-rich on-farm management units are homegardens, homesteads, life fences, coffee- and banana-groves and annual cropping fields. 98% out of all indigenous tree species known from Bungoma, occur in off-farm lands. 53% of the indigenous tree species occur in tree rich on-farm management units while 47% of the indigenous trees are dependent on the maintenance of off-farm lands. Hedgerows embody the most promising secondary vegetation structure that shows ample potential to accommodate a wide range of indigenous perennial species outside the natural vegetation formations. The pattern of distribution of various vegetation structures, and the mixture with diverse tree-based on-farm plots are interesting features in regard to floristic and eco-diversity on a landscape level. In this respect, three areas that show different population densities and distinct agro-historical conditions were compared. In regions of particular high population density the degree of association of various functional land use forms and woodland structures - each characterised by its own floristic make-up - is comparatively high. In contrast, in regions with less population but that were settled at a later date, one encounters fewer stands of woody plants with lower numbers of species.

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