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Landscape + Ecology: A lifeline for the Taita Apalis

As noted by Bird Life International Organization, biodiversity is fundamental to human well being for it offers multiple opportunities for development and improving livelihoods for instance birds are indicators of the health of our environment alerting us when our ecosystems are out of balance, support and regulate ecosystem services such as pollination among others. The Taita Apalis also known as Apalis Fuscigularis by its scientific name is a bird that exists only in the Taita Hills, Kenya and has been marked as a critically endangered species due to its rapid decline over the past few years. From 2001 to 2017 it was recorded to have significantly dropped from about 1200 species to 300 species and unfortunately continues to decline. It has been identified by Bird Life Kenya Organization and the Kenya Forest Services that among the major reasons for its decline is disturbances from human activities. As noted that the bird only exists in Taita Hills, the lowland area of the region experiences a hot and dry climate and as a result of the climate, increase in population and pursuit for suitable land for farming and irrigation, human migration has been towards the hills. This has also greatly affected the Taita Hills forested areas with about 98% of the original forest being destroyed. The genesis of this research was on the primary question of mitigation and adaptation processes that can be used to combat the erasure of this species, however upon further research and discussions with local practitioners actively spearheading restoration and conservation efforts within the area, it was discovered that the most integral part of the biodiversity is the forest for its ecological and cultural importance to the local community more so than the birds. This distinction is rather critical as described by Paul Gacheru from Bird Life Kenya, for a complete successful restoration and conservation process of the species, it is important to create awareness of the birds with the forests since the forest is of symbolic, identity and ecological importance to the local community attracting community participation and empowerment. It is in this consideration that the project takes into account three points of views as mitigation and conservation processes between the birds, the forests and the humans and non humans.