Rainfall reduction coupled with increased temperature are major factors of change in Kilimanjaro ecosystem.
Beside the melting of the icecap, these changes have impacted tremendously on the forest by increasing its vulnerability to fire. Between 1976 and 2000, fires have destroyed approximately 15,445 hectares of Erica forest, representing 83 percent of that forest type. As the Erica forest forms the upper tree line, such a loss has led to a lowering down in altitude of the upper forest boundary by up to 500 metres in some areas.
The Erica forest used to play a significant role in the water balance of the mountain. Located above 2,700 metres where clouds sit almost every day, that forest collects large amount of cloud moisture that contributes significantly to the water needs of the over one million Chagga people that live on the southern slopes of the mountain.
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