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Seasonally moist or flooded lowland areas cover an estimated 228 Mio ha in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). In contrast to the large wetland areas of the Lake Victoria and Okawango Basin and the Nile catchment’s area, the spring-fed valley heads of the inland valley wetlands and small mountain swamps of eastern Africa so far have received only little research attention. However, these small wetlands cover some 12 million ha in Tanzania and Kenya alone. They fulfill numerous social and agricultural functions, are islands of biodiversity, provide clean water and are possibly important sinks for carbon. Their recent use as agricultural production sites results in user conflicts for land and water and the loss of their ability to fulfill the diverse functions. There is a need to reconcile demands for increasing production with concerns for environmental protection. The general aim of the project is therefore to provide a quantitative basis for assessing the current and future potential of wetlands in East Africa and to develop tools to guide decision makers and planners with regards to wetland use. Specific research objectives are:

(1) to capture the current diversity of wetlands in terms of types and their spatial distribution and to define the driving forces for change and/or use;
(2) to determine the potential of wetlands as sites for biodiversity and providers of ecological functions;
(3) to determine the dynamics and availability of nutrient and water and link the underlying processes with the production potential to derive site-specific use options; and
(4) to quantify factor interactions in view of evaluating future use scenarios and define spatio-temporal extrapolation domains.

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