Reply to Spanhove & Lehouck “Don’t Miss The Invasions! A Note On Forest Health Monitoring In The Taita Hills, Kenya”.
AbstractSpanhove and Lehouck raise several excellent points in their critique of “Forest Health Monitoring in the Ngangao Forest, Taita Hills, Kenya: A Five Year Assessment of Change” (JEANH 97(1): 3-17). Their central argument, that Rogers et al. neglected monitoring of invasive alien species in their assessment of ‘forest health’, cannot be disputed. Though we
briefly address the influence of endemic trees (specifically pioneer species), and contrast those influences between Chawia (a highly disturbed forest) and Ngangao (a moderately disturbed forest), we do not extend our assessment to other invasive exotic vegetation. Thus, our study constitutes an assessment of change in the condition of the Ngangao Forest (primarily trees) and misses other elements of the ecosystem, such as the invasive species component correctly pointed out by Spanhove & Lehouck. In addition to alien species, there are enumerable components critical to ecosystem ‘health’ not examined here (e.g. forest soils and erosion, nutrient cycling, epiphytes, bioindicators of air quality, understorey vegetation, invertibrates, wildlife, etc.).