Documentation and Information Management Section

Inadequacy of biodiversity information has been noted to be a major impediment to conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in Kenya and East Africa in general. With over 1 million collections preserved in the Botanic Garden and Herbarium, the Botany department has a wealth of data awaiting discovery and synthesis to be of use in nation building; hence the creation of the Documentation and Information Management (DIM) Section, to provide leadership in the application and dissemination of information and Communication Technologies to enhance the department’s capacity in botanical information management.  

In line with the strategic direction of research at the National Museums of Kenya, the section has a mission to develop and provide a world class platform for all stakeholders interested in botanical research with state of the art reference materials and well-curated knowledge bases for national and regional posterity. Our vision is to serve as a centre of excellence in the dissemination of Botanical Information and services that will ultimately enhance decision-making in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. The activities of the section are implemented through two programme areas:

  • East African Herbarium Library

This component of the section is closely associated with the development and management of the botanical collection and has been in existence, first under the Herbarium at Amani in Tanzania (since 1902) and later under the East Africa Community in Arusha, Tanzania. Since its acquisition by the National Museums of Kenya in 1982, the herbarium library has grown tremendously through book donations, reprints and institutional subscriptions. Current holdings stand at over 4,700 books, 7,000 Journals /periodicals and 15,000 reprints. The library also stocks maps, slides, CD-ROMs and most importantly Floras of various continents. It is consulted by a wide range of users at national, regional and global levels and is open from 8 am to 5 pm on Mondays to Fridays.

  • Development of Botanical knowledge bases

To increase access to information, emphasis is placed on digitisation of collections under various thematic areas. Initial digitization efforts have emphasized capturing data on endemic plants, environmental indicator species, medicinal and other useful plants. The main software in this area is the Botanical Research and Herbarium Management Systems (BRAHMS), which was adopted following many years of testing and feedback with the software developers at Oxford University. BRAHMS currently holds a relational database with about one hundred thousand specimen records. Each database entry includes information on where (geo-reference, with precise coordinates), when and who collected it. It also has brief descriptions on the specimens (e.g. lifeforms) and includes modules to generate, query, edit and analyze taxonomic, geographic and ecological information as well as potential uses of East African plant and fungal diversity.

The Departmental database is an important pivot-point for research that has been used to direct field excursions, produce checklists and make conservation status assessments. To fulfill its dissemination function, the section takes a lead role in exhibitions development, particularly through the institutional open Days, the departmental newsletter and webpage updates.

Past and Ongoing Projects

  • Indicator Species for Climate Change Modeling project, funded by the African Conservation Centre through the SERVIR-AFRICA project (Ongoing)
  • Regional Biodiversity Informatics Centre of Excellence Concept Development Project, funded by the JRS Biodiversity informatics Foundation (Ongoing)
  • East Africa Biodiversity Informatics Project, funded by the JRS Biodiversity Informatics Foundation (completed)
  • African Plants Initiative Project, Funded by the Melon Foundation (Completed)
  • Alien Invasive plant Species database project, funded by the BioNET-EAFRINET through the UVIMA project (Completed)

Section Staff

  • Emily Wabuyele (PhD)- Plant taxonomy (Section Coordinator)
  • Staline Kibet (MSc)- Plant Ecology/Economic botanist
  • Simon Kang’ethe (MSc)- database management and GIS analysis Brenda Nyaboke (HND)- Information management
  • Jonathan Ayayo (Dip)- Computer Programming and information management
  • Josephine Kaveke (Dip) – Library management
  • Monica Agengo (Dip)- Library management
  • Terry Nyamweya- Library management
  • Jane Barasa (Dip)- Digitisation (Intern)
  • Paul Nzioki (Dip)- Digitisation (Intern)
  • Naomi Njuguna (Dip)- Digitisation (Intern)
  • Ruth Wanyonyi (Dip)- Digitisation (Intern)


  • Kibet, S. 2011. Plant communities, species diversity, richness and regeneration of traditionally managed coastal forest, Kenya. Journal of Forest Ecology and Management 261: 949-957
  • Maundu, P., Kibet, S., Morimoto, Y., Imbumi, M. and Adeka, R. 2009. Impact of Prosopis juliflora on Kenya’s semi-arid and arid ecosystems and local livelihoods. Biodiversity, Journal of Life on Earth Vol. 10 (2 &3) 33-50
  • Kibet, S and Nyamweru, C. 2008. Cultural and Biological Heritage at Risk; The Case of the Rabai Kaya Forests in Coastal Kenya. Journal of Human Ecology Vol. 24 (4) 287-295
  • Nyamweru, C, Kibet, S., Pakia, M and Cooke, JA. 2008. The Kaya forests of coastal Kenya, ‘Remnant patches’ or Dynamic Entities? In: Sheridan, M and Nyamweru, C.K. (editors) African Sacred Groves: Ecological Dynamics and Social Change. James Currey Publishers, UK.
  • Kariuki, P and Kibet, S. 2008. Building Capacity for Community-based Conservation of Medicinal Plants in Kenya. In: Hamilton, A.C (ed) Medicinal Plants Conservation and Development: Case Studies and Lessons Learnt. Plantlife International, Salisbury, UK.
  • Wabuyele, E. & Nordal, I. 2010. The development of species level taxonomy in Eastern Africa from the ‘Flora of Tropical Africa’ to the present day – ideas and methods used. In: X. van der Burgt, J. van der Maesen & J.-M Onana (eds), systematic and Conservation of African Plants, pp. 579-584. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
  • Wabuyele, E. & Kyalo S. 2008. Sustainable Use of East African Aloes: The case of Commercial Aloes in Kenya. Published online at
  • Wabuyele, E. Sebsebe Demissew, Grayer, R. Newton, L. E. , Nordal, I 2008. The maculate Aloe complex (series Saponariae Berger) in Eastern Africa. Discovery and Innovation Journal 19(2): 263-275
  • Wabuyele, E. 2006. Aloe kilifiensis (Aloaceae) newly recorded for Tanzania. Journal of the East African Natural History Society 95(2): 227-229
  • Wabuyele, E., Bjorå C. S., Nordal, I. & Newton L. E. 2006. Distribution, diversity and conservation of the genus Aloe in Kenya. Journal of the East African Natural History Society 95(2): 213-225
  • Mukonyi, K. W., Owuor, B., Chikamai, B. N. & Wabuyele, E. 2008. The status of Aloe exploitation, conservation and its contribution to communities’ livelihoods in Kenyan drylands: Discovery and Innovation 19(2):231-241

Theses and Technical Reports

  • Kibet, S and Oyieke, H. 2009. Possible Integration of Traditional Knowledge, Gender Role and Beliefs in Modern Conservation. A commissioned Study for Research Programme on Sustainable Use of Dryland Biodiversity (RPSUD), National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.
  • Kariuki, P and Kibet, S, 2007. Medicinal Plants traded in Kenya. Market survey report for Nairobi, Nyanza and Mombasa.
  • Kibet, S, Guyo, H and Lentoror, E, 2007: Ethnobotanical Knowledge: Its Implications to Conservation and Sustainable Utilisation of Plants. A case Study of Rendille and Ariaal Communities of Marsabit District. Report Submitted to Indigenous Vegetation Project –UNEP/UNDP/NEMA
  • Kibet, S and Situma E, 2007: Traditional Ecological and Ethnobotanical Knowledge among the Turkana People. Technical Report Submitted to Kimetrica Co. Limited, Nairobi.
  • Nyamwamu, B, Shiundu, K and Kibet, S. 2005: Field Report on Indigenous Knowledge on Traditional foods in Siaya and Butere Districts, Western Kenya. African Wild Harvest Report.
  • Kioko, E; Ogada, M and Kibet, S, 2009. Tools and Products in Taxonomy. Technical Report submitted to EAFRINET/BioNET International for UVIMA Project.
  • Kibet, S. 2002 Human Disturbance and its Impact on Vegetation Structure, Composition and Regeneration of Kenya Coastal Forests (A Case Study of Kaya Mudzimuvya Forest). MSc Thesis submitted to Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
  • Musila W., Githiru M., Kanga M.E, Warui, C., Malonza P., Njoroge P., Gikungu M., Mbau J., Nyingi D., Malombe I., Kibet S. and Nyaga J. 2009. Mt. Kenya Forest Biodiversity Assessment Technical Report. Kenya Wildlife Service, Nairobi
  • Wabuyele, E. 2006. Studies on Eastern African aloes: aspects of taxonomy, conservation and ethnobotany. Desertation submitted to the faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Oslo
  • Wabuyele, E. 2000. A systematic study of the relationship between Aloe macrocarpa and Aloe lateritia (Aloaceae) MSc. thesis presented to the School of Postgraduate studies, Addis Ababa University