Accessibility statement

 People Publications Policy Briefs Projects Resources

Launched in 2005 as a Marie-Curie Excellence Centre, the KITE group investigates ecosystem dynamics in the moist forests, savannah-woodland spectrums and cropland mosaics of Eastern and Southern Africa.

Through genetic sequencing, palaeoecological reconstruction, contemporary mapping, modelling and scenario development, we aim to better understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of tropical ecosystems, their societal value and challenges to their conservation.

Photographs across the ranges of KITE research projects can be accessed on website:



Why we explored an undisturbed rainforest hidden on top of an African mountain

In a recent piece for The Conversation, KITE's Phil Platts and collaborator Simon Willcox talk about their recent expedition into a hidden rainforest in Atop Mount Lico in northern Mozambique, where they thought they were first people to have ever visited...

"The death of these oldest and largest baobab trees is very sad, but hopefully the news will motivate us to protect the world’s remaining large baobabs and start a process of close monitoring of their health."

Comment on the Dying African Baobabs

KITE member, , was asked to comment last week after it was disclosed that some of Africa's largest and oldest Baobab trees died rather suddenly. Aida's pices can be found here:

'Key paper for next two decades'

The newly-published article Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: Human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present in Earth-Science Reviews provides a valuable synthesis of both past and current archaeological and palaeoecological research that has been undertaken in East Africa. 

The massive undertaking was led by Rob Marchant and the KITE team, but has only been possible because of a wider team effort by 50 co-authors contributing text, data and images to the synthesis. Reviewer comments suggest that the paper 'gives an impressive and authoritive overview' and 'expected to be a key paper for the next two decades'.

The article can be downloaded for free until 15th April 2018. After this time, please contact us for copy. 

Dipole: the ‘Indian Niño’ that has brought devastating drought to East Africa

Rob Marchant explains the climate phenomenon on The Conversation.

Read more

Grains of Truth

A new film explores climate change, people, East Africa and archaeology - take a look. The film was made in collaboration between KITE researchers, the AAREA project and Ambient Cinema.

KITE news

A new film is launched on ‘KESHO - the participatory land use tool’ This has now been used to try and get ahead of the land use transformation challenge in many different contexts.

Rob Marchant has been appointed to the Scientific Advisory Council to support the ongoing five year plan for developing sustainable mountain environments with FAO.

Rob Marchant is co-leading the Mountain Social Ecological Futures Working Group supported through the Mountain Research Initiative.

Rob Marchant will be attending the World Biodiversity Forum in Davos in June. He is invited to present on Mountain Biodiversity Futures.

Rob Marchant attended the World Climate Research program  Forum in Kigali in October 2023 where he was invited to present on 'Archetypes of Climate Change Adaptation across Africa’s Mountains: a systematic review'

Rob Marchant participated as an invited expert during the January 2024 workshop MOVING European Foresight Workshop, titled “Shaping the Future for Resilient Mountain Areas”. This is a Horizon 2020 project focused on the resilience and sustainability of mountain value chains across Europe.

New Special issue to be co-edited by Rob Marchant, Tobias Nyumba and Jessica Thorn in the journal Land on 'Future Scenarios of Land Use and Land Cover Change' now open for submission. We have upto 10 fee waivers for high quality papers so publication charges should not be a barrier to publication.MDPI Journal Special Issues
Post COP 26 The UK Climate Universities Network Continues to work towards addressing the climate emergency UK Universities Climate Network (PDF , 1,382kb)
Open call to be part of a special issue of Frontiers in Conservation "Past Forward: Using Long-Term Data as Part of an Interdisciplinary Approach to Biodiversity Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Management of Ecosystem Services" Frontiers in conservation 

New book out by Robert Marchant, East Africa's Human Environment Interactions, published by Palgrave Macmillan

Congratulations to Jessica Thorn on her appointment at St Andrews to take up a lectureship in Sustainable Development  

Aida Cuní-Sanchez gave a talk at the Smithsonian discussing her recent Nature paper which is summarised in this Conversation article. The article was also republished by the World Economic Forum. 

Aida Cuní-Sanchez and Robert Marchant talk to UNESCO about the importance of conversations for capacity strengthening and dealing with challenges across Africa's ecosystems and communities.

Jessica Thorn was moderating the Ecosystem Goods and Services session of the First African Urban Forestry conference of the UN FAO. There were keynote presentations from Wanjira Mathaai (WTI), Martina Otto (UNEP Cities) and Mamadou Fall (Senegal). 

Rebecca Kariuki talks here about the role of past present and future environments, and the ecological future of East Africa. 

Congratulations go to Edem Mahu of the Universiry of Ghana who has been recognised with this prestigious award from National Geographic

Dr. Catherine Sang (University of Nairobi) and Dr. Rebecca Kariuki (Nelson Mandela University of Science and Technology) have both been nominated for the African Institute for Mathmatical Sciences (AIMS) African Women Fellows in Climate Science, to undertake work on projects in Kenya and Namibia. 

There are two new policy briefs out on green infrastructure in Peri Urban environments and how livelihoods can be improved and helped in adapting to climate change and

Call for Grey Matter

A new study is seeking to collate "Evidence of the Environmental Impacts of Subterranean Mining for Solid Metals and Minerals and the Effectiveness of Restoration". If you have any information on the the impacts of subterranean mining, on biodiversity and ecosystem services, please could you send to:  Hamidu Seki: 

Wilson Masele and Michael Mdongwe, Masters students at the University of Dar es Salaam, have been awarded fellowships supported by the Climate Research 4 Development. Wilson and Michael will be investigating the green infrastructure and biodiversity in Peri-urban areas, and will work with Jessica Thorn on the Urban Evolution and PURE projects. 

The International Biogeography Society is launching International Humboldt Day - an annual celebration of Humboldts's legacy and research prompted by his pioneering work in botanical geography. Focused biogeography related events will be held around the world during the week of September 12-19 2020.  Esther Githumbi, Robert Marchant and Rahab Kinyanjui  will be hosting an online event on 18th September @15.00 East African Mountains: past present and future changes and challenges.

Congratulations go to Georgia de jon Celyndert who has had her first paper,  "Adaptation of Seaweed Farmers in Zanzibar to the impacts of Climate Change," published in the African Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation.  

Jessica Thorn leads a paper in "Ecology and Society" on Mountain Social-ecological sysyems, and evaluating the role that participatory scenario planning can provide for assessing ecosysytem service provision into the future. 

Aida Cuni-Sanchez and Jessica Thorn will join Rob Marchant as contributing authors for a cross cutting chapter on Mountains for the next IPCC report. 

Jessica Thorn, Steve Cinderby and Rob Marchant received an additional grant of £10,500 from GCRF-QR to expand the ongoing work in Namibia and Kenya to include perspectives from Tanzania on Peri-Urban settlements,  interactions between climate pandemics and challenges in informal settlements. 

Congratulations go to Aida Cuni-Sanchez, who will start a new position as an Associate Professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in Oslo, Norway. She will be working in the department of International Environment and Development Studies (NORAGRIC) and will also be teaching, and continuing her research on tropical forests across Africa. Aida will continue to be a valued collaborator for many years to come. 

Aida Cuni-Sanchez contributed to a global webinar on Biodiversity and Preventing Pandemics in Africa, which was organised by UNESCO in Africa, UN Environment Regional Office for Africa, Africa Union, International Science Council, and Centre of Excellence in Biodiversity  University of Rwanda. 

Congratulations to Rahab Kianyanjui from the National Museums of Kenya who has been awarded a British Ecologocal Society grant to document the historical ecology of the South Aberdare ranges over the past 100 years. We will study plant microfossils (pollen, phytoliths, spores and charcoal)  to determine vegetation changes and cultural materials in the sites to document the extent of occupation. 

In 2018 Dr Phil Platts was part of an expedition to an undiscovered mountain top rain forest in Mozambique. You can now watch the beautiful film on Youtube , produced by the National Geographic and The Nobel Prize here.

Congratulations go to Mike Bungard who has just passed his PhD viva with minor corrections! His thesis is on Predictive Modelling for Anuran Responses to Climate Change in Tropical Montane Ecosystems. 

Work has begun on a new project Fishing for the Future (F4F) in the Gulf of Guinea, to understand how changing climate and environmental pollution are likely to affect the Oyster fisheries and many womens livelihood.


Aida Cuni Sanchez's interview about cloud forests in the Comoros was used in  the New York Times.  Click for link: New York Times  

Aida Cuni Sanchez was involved in a study published in "Nature" showing that the ability of the worlds tropical forests to remove carbon from the atmosphere is decreasing. An international team of researchers tracked 300,000 trees in more than 500 forest patches in Africa and the Amazon for over 30 years. 

Project launch of "PURE, Peri-Urban Resilient Ecosystems" on 28th January 2020, a project involving NUST, UNAM Namibian Housing Action Group, University of Cape Town, University of York, University of Winchester, ICLEI Africa, and the Stockholm Environment Institute-York. The project is funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund and aims to support climate resilient strategies in Windhoek SA.

The York Talks held on 8 January are now available to view online. Rob Marchant spoke on "The Mountains and people of Africa: creating a more sustainable future from the ground up" Information about the event can be viewed here.  

Congratulations go to Dr Edem Mahu, University of Ghana,  who has been offered a FLAIR scholarship for the project "Fishing for the future: sustaining livelihoods through gender sensitive climate risk assessment of brackish water shellfisheries in the Gulf of Ghana".

Dr J KIrschner is involved with a new  project in Mozambique,  "Building resilience to climate shocks, and improving energy infrastructure for economic development and well being".

Hamidu Seki, a PhD student under the Commonwealth Scholarship attended a three day workshop exploring the role of young leaders in building social cohesion and their active involvement in decision making on different government levels.

Exhibition 8th November "Pastoralists under Pressure"

On Friday 8th November JB Morell Library York, there will be an exhibition, talk and panel debate from 6.30pm. Information aboiut the event can be viewed here

Rebecca Newman and Georgia De Jong Cleyndert held workshops in Kinyasini, Zanzibar, and are  now analysing community level data to assess the impacts of climate change on societies and livelihoods.

Photographs  from across the ranges of KITE research projects can be accessed via a new Flickr account here.......

 There is now a wider @York network that forms a hub for Africanist research at the University of York, connecting more than 100 researchers working on diverse issues in more than 80% of African countries.


Robert Marchant's article "Observation of an adult female Oribi with Leucistic pelage in Lobo, Serengeti National Park Tanzania, has been published in the African Journal Of Ecology.‌

Tropical montane cloud forest study

New paleo directions explored in a study of the sensitivity of tropical montane cloud forest to climate change, present past and future: Mt. Marsabit, N. Kenya. it can be viwed here.

New policy brief in Swahili (PDF , 584kb) and  on the application of the KESHO scenario tool across a number of projects in Eastern Africa from Natioanl Parks to railways, from mountains to coasts

New project with the White Rose University Consortium

Rob Marchant is one of lead academics on the new project 'Refugia of Futures Past' which is initiating a long-term interdisciplinary collaboration to explore the baseline conditions for Earth habitability under long-term future global environmental change to influence adaptation, research, policy, and practice. More information can be found in the pages.

Comment on the dying baobabs

comments on the recent news story about the death of some of Africa's oldest baobab trees. Read the full article here.

New publication out! 

'Rangeland Livelihood Strategies under Varying Climate Regimes: Model Insights from Southern Kenya' by KITE members Rebecca Kariuki and Rob Marchant has just been published in Land. It can be downloaded here

Key publication now online

'Drivers and trajectories of land cover change in East Africa: Human and environmental interactions from 6000 years ago to present' by KITE team members in Earth-Science Reviews is available for free download until 15th April.

New policy briefs out!

Produced by KITE members involved with the AFERIA project. See  for more info.

Have you ever heard of cloud shepherds? Find out more about them by watching Aida Cuní Sanchez's film, featured here.

New KITE publication out in PAGES magazine!

See  for more info.

REAL project members run workshop in Amboseli on Resilient Ecology of East African Landscapes.‌‌

New policy briefs out!

Produced by KITE members involved with the AFERIA project. See for more info.

Rob Marchant interviewed for Climate News Network

on 'Climate cycle fuels famine in East Africa'

KITE Projects

 This page is currently under construction. Please check back later!