Kabage Forest


Kabage Forest Station lies on Eastings 0257421 and Nothings 995572 is located in the North

Eastern side and forms part of the larger Aberdare Ecosystem. It borders Zaina forest to the

South, Aberdare National Park to the North and farmlands to the East. The Forest Station is

located in Nyeri County, Tetu Sub-County, Kimathi Ward. It covers Thatha sub-location,

Muhoya Location, and Kanjora sub-location, Kimathi location. The Forest Station can be

accessed from the main Nyeri-Mweiga- Nyahururu Road at Mathari-Ihururu Junction 2.


History of the forest

In the pre-colonial period, Kabage forest was managed through traditional Kikuyu customs

where the Chiefs and elders played a vital role in management, utilization and conservation of

the forest resources. The community attached great cultural, social, religious and economic

importance to the forest which ensured its sustainable management. Documents found in the

station offices show that the first plantations were established in 1923 by the colonial

government even though its gazettement as forest reserve was done in 1943.


During the British colonial rule in Kenya, the Forest Station was under colonial foresters and the

local community had to follow orders that were given by the forester regarding management

operations in the station. It was during this period that sections of indigenous forests were

replaced with exotic plantations through what came to be termed as compensatory forest

practice. It was the same time when forest villages were created with intention of providing

cheap labour for plantation management.


After independence, the management of the Kabage forest was vested upon the Kenyan Forest

Department whose system of forest management was that of command and control where the

local community was also excluded from the management of the forest resources. The people

living adjacent to the forest assumed that the forest resources belonged to the Government and

the forester in- charge, which led to the continued destruction and degradation of the forest

resources in the 1970s, 80s to 90s. It was during this period that people were removed from the

forest village and Non-Resident Cultivation started as a means of continued supply of cheap

labour for plantation establishment.




Kabage forest lies in the zone of 2,344m above sea level. Its topography rises and falls

(undulating) with slopes of approximately 5 to 30 %. However, some areas have steep valleys

and ridges (over 80% slope) covered by dense indigenous forest, bamboo and moorland.



The climatic condition of the Aberdare forest region is largely influenced by its altitude which

rises up to 2,344m above sea level. The mean annual temperature ranges are between minimum

of 10 0 C and maximum of 25 0 C due to the high altitude. The ecological area in which Kabage

Forest station falls has two distinct rainy seasons. The long rain season with high amounts of

rainfall occur in the months of April to June and the short rains occur from October to

December. The mean annual rainfall range is between 1,315mm to a high of 2,214mm. Rainfall

in the region has been fluctuating and decreasing from 2013-2017.


Geology and soils

The geology and soils type in Kabage forest and the surrounding areas are influenced by ancient

volcanic activities. Thus, the underlying rocks are mainly volcanic whose texture and structure

vary according to age. Layered porous red granitic rocks are more dominant in the area with

black layered rock beds along the river beds.


Kabage forest area is dominated by red volcanic soils which have been developed from ashes

and other pyroclastic rocks of recent volcanic activities. The soil type can be described as

Nitisols with distinct soil variants differentiated by their parent rock, mineral composition, soil

texture classes and organic matter contents.



Kabage Forest is an important catchment area It is the source of three major rivers, namely;

Thengera-ini, Muraria and Kina-ini, rivers which are tributaries to River Muringato that drains

into the River Sagana that is a tributary of Tana River.


Water Easement

Kina-ini Water Users Association - Kina-ini River

Kahiga-ini – Kanjora water project - Muraria Stream

Thatha irrigation water project - Kina-ini River


Wetlands in forest area

There are also several wetlands within the forest area, which are also key area for birdlife. Key

wetlands include:














Biodiversity description


The Kabage forest constitutes an important reservoir for plants and tree species. The

forest vegetation zones and species distribution depend on density of particular trees and plant

species, topography, soil type, soil depth, soil moisture and level of human related activities.

Domination of some species in some areas has resulted to development of different vegetation

zones within the forest dominant tree species found in Kabage forest includes; Prunus africana,

Podocarpus falcatus, Olea africana, Hagenia abysinica. Albizia gumifera, Juniperus procera

and Teclea or Viprous species and Casiporea malosana. The species in the plantation area

includes; Cuppressus, lustanica, Eucalyptus spp, Pine species and a mixed indigenous spp.



Kabage forest has a large area of indigenous forest and borders Aberdare National park to the

North West thus has a wide range of fauna from large to the small mammals, birds, reptiles and

a variety of insects which forms complex food webs and food chains within the forest. Big game

includes the lion elephants, and leopard; while other include the hyena, antelopes, and gazelle.

As part of the Aberdare Forest Ecosystem, Kabage Forest can be considered as an Important

Bird Area, Key birds include Scaly franolin, Hartlaub’s turaco, silvery cheeked hornbill, and

bronse-napped pigeon. 


In addition, Aquatic animals especially amphibians thrive well in the rivers and streams

within the forest, while insects, arachnids and Mollusca form an integral part of the forest

rich biodiversity.


Other resources

Non-wood forest products

Kabage forest has a variety of non-wood forest products which include honey, Wax, bamboo

products, herbal medicine, indigenous fruits and roots. However, utilization of these products is

at very low levels as only a few community members practice bee keeping using the traditional

hives, while a minimum number of the elderly extract herbs for medicinal value. However, it’s

good to note that there is great potential for extraction, value addition and utilization of the non-

wood products from the forest and this management plan will propose activities which will lead

to sustainable and economic utilization of NWFP.


Key herbs found in the forest are Urtica massaica and Viscum tuberculatum. Others are:

Mithithinda (Cypress); Mubau (Eucalyptus); Mubiru; Mukambura; Mukarakinga; Mukeu;

Mukurue; Munathi; Mung’ang’a; Muringa; Murucha; Mururue; Mutarakwa; Mutero; Muthuthi;

Mutura; Mwerere; Mwinu; and Wanjiru wa Kieni.


Description of eco-tourism sites

The adjacent communities and Government leaders have attached great value to the forest’s

historic site where great Mau Mau freedom fighter Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi Wachiuri was

captured by the colonial Government. The site has been gazetted as a National Monument and

managed by the National Museums of Kenya. Other sites of tourist attractions, cultural, religion,

economic and scientific values have been identified and include the watch-tower; Wangari

Maathai site; Muraria waterfall; and using the KFS office site as a camp site.


Forest infrastructure and Equipment

Like in many forest stations in the country, the infrastructure in Kabage forest comprising of

roads and buildings is not well developed posing a major challenge in the implementation of

planned activities. Other key infrastructure consists of the electric fence round the Aberdares

National Park which touches the Kabage forest.


The station has four distinct roads connecting the intervention zone and the Aberdare National

Park namely; North Kabage Road - 6.5 Km often used by tourists to access the park, regularly

maintained by KWS up to a distance of 4.5Km, South Kabage Road - 6.0Km is ungraded and

impassable, Ring Road and Kabage - National Park road having lengths of 11.2Km and 4.0Km

respectively are not motorable due to their bad state. Most sections of the forest especially

outside the plantation zone are served by footpaths which are often used by grazers or firewood



Community Participation and CFA Formation

The overall governing structure of the KABCOFA, the CFA to enter into management

agreement with KFS for the implementation of the plan is illustrated in Figure 6. The CFA is

comprised of 9 user groups and plans to form an additional 5 groups.


Since 2007, the Forests Act No.7 (2005) and other subsidiary legislations have changed the way

forests are managed in Kenya. The Act has recognized the role of participatory forest

management in the sustainable management and utilization of forest resources. This is continued

through the Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016.


Therefore, the adjacent local communities through KABCOFA and other stakeholders are being

involved in the management of the forest. The CFA is involved in forest protection, forest

policing, minor silvicultural operations and in rehabilitation of degraded indigenous forest sites.

3.1.2 Description of the Community and Cultural Significance of the Forest


The communities living adjacent to the forest are mainly Kikuyus. Through generations, the

Kikuyu people living adjacent to the forest held cultural, spiritual and religious importance to it.

Traditional rituals such as circumcision, worship and offering of sacrifices to their God (Ngai or

Mwene Nyaga), conflict resolutions and resolving marriage disputes by community elders was

done in some sacred sites inside the forest.


Forest Products

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