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Brackenhurst Botanic Garden

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Kenya - Limuru

Institution Code: LIMU

International Agenda Registration: Yes

BGCI Member: Yes

ArbNet Accredited: Level II

Restored indigenous forest at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden (Photo credit Barney Wilczack)
Restored indigenous forest at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden (Photo credit Barney Wilczack)

About the Brackenhurst Botanic Garden

Since its founding in 1990, this botanic garden has restored a 40 hectare area of forest.

With a strong focus on indigenous species, planting efforts have naturally increased the number of species of flora and fauna recorded in the grounds of the garden, including 170 bird species.

The vision of Brackenhurst is to:

- Create an indigenous forest and botanic garden with native plant and associated non-plant biodiversity for education, conservation, research and environmental restoration, and;

- To restore ecosystem services in the Brackenhurst Valley, in particular perennial stream flow

Brackenhurst Botanic Garden is part of the Ecological Restoration Alliance of Botanic Gardens.

Main Address:
Brackenhurst Botanic Garden
Plants For Life International
P.O. Box 617
00217 Kenya

Telephone: +254 733 995478/ +254 66 73407/ +254 66 73007
Primary Email:

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Mark Nicholson
    Curator's Name:
    Plant Records Officer's Name:
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 18
    Educational Staff Number:
    Research Staff Number:
    Administration Staff Number:

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: Private: Yes
  • Date founded: 1990
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 40 Hectares
  • Total Area: 40 Hectares
    Latitude: -1.1603
    Longitude: 36.6888
    Altitude: 0.00 Metres

Features and Facilities

  • Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: Yes

Plant Collections

  • Special Collections:Focus on indigenous species, particularly trees
  • Invasive Species Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: Yes
    Medicinal Plant Programme: Yes
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: Yes
    Reintroduction Programme: Yes

Research Programmes

  • Ecosystem Conservation: Yes
    Education: Yes
    Ethnobotany: Yes
    Floristics: Yes
    Invasive Species Biology and Control: Yes
    Restoration Ecology: Yes
    Systematics and Taxonomy: Yes
    Land Restoration: Yes

Education Programmes

  • Education Programme: Yes

Forest Restoration in the East African Uplands

The upland forest restoration work of Brackenhurst Botanic Garden near Nairobi, Kenya, has become a model for East African habitat restoration initiatives. The forest in the region was once so extensive that it hosted leopard, buffalo and elephant, and blocked city residents’ view of Mount Kilimanjaro. Less than 2% of original forest remained before restoration work began at Brackenhurst Botanic Garden, with the rest mostly transformed into tea and eucalyptus plantations.

One hundred acres (40 hectares) of tropical rainforest have now been replanted. In just 15 years, the project has replaced exotic tree plantations with a 30-foot tall native forest that shelters lianas, orchids and a species-rich understory. The forest is now home to over 170 species of birds, 120 species of butterfly, as well as fruit bats. The project also provides livelihood opportunities in an area of high unemployment, by training and employing local people.


The restoration work at Brackenhurst is partly supported by The Ashden Trust through a Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) coordinated project: Enhancing tree conservation and forest restoration in Africa. This project has set up forest restoration plots with Brackenhurst Botanic Garden and Tooro Botanic Garden (in Uganda), planted with native tree species, including threatened species and species valued by local communities. BGCI is working to expand this project, setting up additional botanic garden-led restoration plots, that demonstrate the value of involving botanic garden knowledge and a wide mix of indigenous species in restoration, in other countries across Africa.



During 2013 and 2014 the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) helped Brackenhurst Botanic Garden set up a Forest Restoration Research Unit (FORRU): a restoration plot where 20 "Framework Species" have been planted and in-depth monitoring is being carried out. Framework species are those that have a high survival rate, fast growth rate, have dense spreading crowns that shade out herbaceous weeds, and that flower, fruit or provide other resources, at a young age, that attract seed-dispersing wildlife. Further information about the FORRU methodology can be found on the FORRU website and in the recently published book: Restoring Tropical Forests, A practical Guide (Elliot, Blakesley and Hardwick, 2013).

Please contact Mark Nicholson or Kirsty Shaw for more information about this project.