Kwale Operations lies close to forests and remnant forest patches that constitute the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot, which support a rich biodiversity and high number of endemic plant species.

In collaboration with specialists such as those from the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service, Base Titanium regularly undertakes and participates in habitat surveys to improve knowledge of the region’s rich biodiversity. Through this program, new species have been recorded and insights gained into the life histories and status of threatened species.

Indigenous tree nursery and arboretum

Kwale Operations’ indigenous tree nursery represents one of the largest of its kind, in which a number of rare species considered of conservation significance have been successfully propagated for the first time. Amongst them are more than 90 that appear in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, as either Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable.

Most notably, two of the successfully propagated Critically Endangered trees are listed amongst the world’s 100 most threatened animal, plant and fungus species.

Kwale Operations arboretum was established to showcase efforts in protecting and conserving indigenous trees of conservation importance. The collection comprises specimens either rescued from disturbed areas of the mine or grown in the nursery.

Contributing to improving biodiversity in the region as part of our community programs initiative, we donate indigenous trees for planting at our community infrastructure and other projects. We also actively collaborate in the management of coastal forest patches and seek opportunities to support a variety of conservation initiatives by donating trees to planting programs in the region.

Statistics as at August 2021:

154,741 – Trees propagated in the nursery

293 – Species established in the nursery

2,787 – Critically Endangered trees propagated in the nursery

118,419 – Trees planted out in the field

2,326 – Critically Endangered trees planted out including Gigasiphon macrosiphon

Hyperolius rubrovermiculatus, known only from a small area around the Shimba Hills in coastal Kenya is classified by the IUCN Global Red List as Endangered. It is inherently at risk because of its limited range and is affected by agricultural expansion, increasing human settlement and declining wetlands.

By constructing the Mukurumudzi Dam, with its fringing vegetation, and establishing and restoring wetlands, a significantly increased population of this amphibian is evident.

A medium-sized, leguminous tree, Gigasiphon macrosiphon was first described from Tanzania in 1915, but not recognised in Kenya until 1957 near Mrima Hill in Kwale County.

The species is under severe threat of extinction. It is placed on the IUCN Global Red List as Critically Endangered and in 2012 included in IUCN’s Special Survival Commission list of the 100 most threatened animals, plants and fungi.

In 2017, a group of 10 mature trees was found on Mrima Hill. More recently, a healthy population was discovered in the Gongoni Forest Reserve adjacent to the Kwale Operation, from which seed was collected for propagation in Base Titanium’s tree nursery.

Great success has since been achieved in propagating this species and over 1,400 individuals are now planted out in the biodiversity corridor.

The Critically Endangered Euphorbia tanaensis is found near the Tana River in eastern Kenya. Occurring in Witu Forest, Lamu County, it is one of the rarest trees in the world with only 4 mature individuals known in the wild. It grows to nearly 30m and usually protrudes above the forest canopy.

Repeated attempts to locate this tree in other forests have failed and there is no sign of regeneration or young seedlings near the mature trees. Its IUCN Red List classification is Critically Endangered and it is also included in the list of the 100 most threatened animals, plants and fungi compiled in 2012 by IUCN’s Special Survival Commission.

Following on the successes achieved in propagating other species in Base Titanium’s nursery, we have propagated the species and now have one 2-metre tall young tree planted out in our arboretum with several more cuttings growing in the nursery. It is planned to eventually re-introduce them to Witu Forest and the rehabilitated mined areas.

Being close to the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot, we have capitalised on the opportunity to achieve a positive biodiversity outcome by establishing a biodiversity corridor in the mining lease area.

Base Titanium has established, and nurtures, a biodiversity corridor to link the remnant patches of indigenous forest occurring in the mining lease to the existing Gongoni Forest Reserve. This project encompasses forest patches along the Mukurumudzi River and Mukurumudzi Dam shoreline and also includes restored wetlands.

The great success of this project is evidenced by increased sightings of a wide range of invertebrates, amphibians, birds and mammals with new records being periodically added.