• Study area

In the KiLi project biodiversity and ecosystem processes are studied along altitudinal gradients at the south (-eastern) slope of Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, East Africa), capitalizing on its world-wide unique range of climatic and vegetation zones. The Kilimanjaro is a large stratovolcano (diameter about 100km, Kibo/Uhuru peak: 5895 m asl) located 300 km south of the equator. It has been designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. The foothills receive an annual rainfall of approximately 500-900 mm; precipitation peaks in the forest belt (>3000 mm) and again decreases to 200 mm in the alpine zone. The natural vegetation of the study area includes savannah (700 - 1100 m), submontane and lower montane forest (1100 - 1800 m), Camphor forest (1800 - 2800 m), Podocarpus forest (2800-3200 m), Erica forest (3200 - 4000 m), and alpine Helichrysum vegetation (4000 - 4600 m). Past and current land use has strongly reduced the extent of natural vegetation. Today, on most of the former savannah areas maize fields are found, while traditional agroforestry systems (‘Chagga homegardens’), grasslands and coffee plantations dominate areas formerly holding submontane/lower montane forest. Natural ecosystems at altitudes >1800 m are strongly influenced by logging and burning.

vegetation map of kilimanjaro rain map of kilimanjaro
Vegetation map of Kilimanjaro (from Hemp 2006c) Rain map of Kilimanjaro (Andreas Hemp)

• Facilities

Two scientific stations in Kidia (area of Old Moshi) and in Nkweseko (area of Machame) on the southern slope of Kilimanjaro inside the coffee-banana belt are available. From both stations the district capital Moshi (with internet, post office, immigration office, market, bakeries) on the foothills can be reached within 30 minutes, Kilimanjaro International Airport within 1-1.5 hours. Both stations (direct distance 25 km) are electrified, supplied with satellite internet, and connected via radio call. Mobile phone network is available at both stations and at most of the study sites.

station at Kidia station at Nkweseko
The scientific stations at Kidia (left) and Nkweseko (right)