Biodiversity Information systems

Kenya has a rich history of conservation since the Nairobi National Park was established in 1946 followed by the Tsavo East (1946) and West (1948) National Parks. Fast forward, today Kenya boasts 23 terrestrial National Parks, 28 terrestrial National Reserves, 4 marine National Parks, 6 marine National Reserves and 4 national sanctuaries against a backdrop of many community and private conservancies that team with wildlife.

However, this mix also has encouraged and accommodated different players in conservation including both Government institutions and non-government conservation organisations that manage and conduct research on wildlife in different regions of the country.

For instance, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) created in 1989, has been responsible for all wildlife management outside and inside of protected areas, even though many non-state actors have also been complementing the Government in conservation.

As a result, different agencies are involved in natural resource surveys, assessments and monitoring with data and information being hosted by different state agencies and non-state actors leading to the country’s lack of a central portal for wildlife data and information which impedes access to information to inform decision making and formulation of policies for sustainable wildlife conservation in the country.

WRTI was established to address the above gap in the lack of data and information on Kenya’s wildlife resources in 2013. WRTI has aligned its strategic objectives with Article 35 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 on access to information that underscores that every citizen has the right of access to information held by the State and also its mandate as per Section 60 of the WCMA 2013 on the establishment of wildlife database, it has developed strategic objectives. This strategic objective aims at providing accurate scientific data and skilled manpower for sustainable wildlife conservation and management by developing and managing the national wildlife data and information center.

Currently, no integrated wildlife database can provide data and information at the click of a button. The lack of appropriate research equipment and facilities has affected the generation and storage of scientific data and information. The Government of Kenya is committed to reversing this trend by initiating the development of a National Wildlife Database.

The project will entail establishing an ICT platform for natural resources baseline and information dissemination for decision-making by collating data from state and non-state actors, developing a national framework, protocols and standards for natural resources assessment and monitoring, building infrastructure capacity in data collection, storing and monitoring to ensure information sharing between WRTI  and state agencies and non-state actors and building synergies and relevant capacity between agencies involved in natural resources assessment, monitoring and reporting.

The project will comprise the powerful Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) Laboratories, a secure server for the WRTI, large format printers and scanners, GIS and RS Sensing Software, and advanced software for statistical data analyses.

Towards these efforts, the GoK has already committed support to procure the first equipment to host data at the WRTI Headquarters in Naivasha, develop the first national database and collate historical and current wildlife and related datasets as held by different stakeholders. It is hoped that the Government’s initiative shall receive backing from key wildlife conservation partners both locally and internationally.

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