Kenya’s tropical montane forests are under significant threat of agricultural land expansion. Yet, these forests are major sources of fresh water for communities living in and downstream of these areas and are therefore considered the major ‘water towers’ of Kenya. Deforestation and land use changes are often stated as important parameters for water quality. Although other catchment characteristics such as topography, geology and climate play a role. Understanding how stream water chemistry is affected is essential for sustainable water management and land use planning.
This study focuses on three sub-catchments (27-36 km²) with different land use types (natural forest, smallholder agriculture and tea/tree plantations) nested in a 1023 km² headwater catchment covering the catchment of Chemosit River, a tributary to Sondu River in the Mau Forest Complex, Kenya. The Mau Forest is the largest indigenous tropical montane forest in Kenya. In the past decades approx. 25% of the natural forest was lost due to land use changes.
Each station records data on water level, turbidity, total and dissolved organic carbon (TOC, DOC), nitrate (NO3), electrical conductivity and stream temperature every 10 minutes using a combination of high-resolution in-situ measurements, bi-weekly stream water samples and spatial sampling campaigns - resulting in a unique long-term dataset for water quality and quantity.