Josephat Makokha, Emmy Kerich, Daniel Mkung
Abstract: To ecologists and forest managers, an up to date data on forest botanical details is a pre-requisite to making management decisions from an informed perspective. Cherangani forest which is host to Kapkanyar power line project could be at risk of losing taxa of conservation significance in this and similar projects if right scientifically tested and proven data is not used to guide decisions. Considering that a number of infrastructures here and other state forests seldom commence prior to elaborate vegetation surveys, ecological disasters are bound to occur due to the ecosystem destabilization arising there from. This research spanned over a period of three months from April to July in 2015 with the objective of looking at the past records of woody plants (inventory data) and the present composition of taxa in all life forms of vascular plants to ascertain the effects of disturbance on the forest. Stratified systematic sampling was used to locate sample plots. Parameters like composition, disturbance regimes, cover, were analyzed in respect of identified flora in order to understand the forest community. The nomenclature and taxa description used was according to Bentjee (1994) and Agnew (2013).Standard methods of plant identification were used. Descriptive statistics was used in the analysis and data was presented in tables, graphs and charts. In this study we found 71 species distributed in 35 taxa. The results further gave the impression that disturbance reduced woody species presence while it increased the population of non perennial taxa. Fern and semi scandents were insignificantly affected by the disturbance. The structure of disturbed forest was reduced to undergrowth in most areas with undisturbed forest retaining multistorey canopies. This study recommends that government implements projects that have ecological dimensions with due diligence particularly in regard to conducting preliminary studies prior to commencement of the same.
Keywords: Forest disturbance, Plant species composition, Cherangani forest, Power line project