For Online E-newspaper
The East African : December 30th 2013
IV The EastAfrican MAGAZINE DECEMBER 28, 2013 - JANUARY 3, 2014 conse≥vation G≥eening Mt Kenya, one seedling at a time the endangered indigenous forests, which are biodiversity-rich, and provide essential eco-services such as clean air, water and habitat to the last of the wild.” The indigenous forest of Mount Kenya sprawls above the 10,000-foot contour of the Mount Kenya National Park. Massive podo and Meru Oak compete for space, where herds of buffalos and elephants trample through the glades and colobus monkeys rend the air with their screeches. Higher up, thick groves of bamboo give way to the moors and glaciers of the mountain peaks. Yet, deforestation is nothing new on the lower slopes of the mighty mountain. As early as 1909, Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the US, on his epic safari to Kenya, commented on large swathes of forest laid bare between the Aberdares and Mount Kenya. However, the situation worsened as Kenya’s human population increased and with it the demand for land. The country’s forest cover fell from an estimated 10 per cent in 1963 to 1.7 per cent by 2006. The computed tree cover is 10 per cent of its land mass with an estimate of 100 million trees to be planted. The target time is 2030 to fit in with Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s blueprint for economic development. “Lions Club is creating a synergy RUPI MANGAT w≥ites on an initiative aimed at helping Kenya ≥each its ta≥get of 10pc fo≥est cove≥ by 2030 I Top and above, Hombe, Iruri and Kabiruini residents in Nyeri County join Aga Khan Development Network staff and the Lions Clubs of Kenya in a tree planting exercise at Hombe area on Mt Kenya on December 9, as part of an initiative to reach 10 per cent forest cover by 2030. Pictures: Joseph Kanyi and Rupi Mangat t is a bright Sunday morning on the slopes of Mount Kenya. The sun shines on the potato fields, higlighting the white and purple against the red earth of Hombe forest. In a matter of minutes, scores of schoolchildren, women and men from the nearby villages mingle with staff from the Aga Khan Development Network, Lions Club (Nairobi and Nyeri) and Mountain Lodge Serena to plant 10,000 tree seedlings on four hectares of potato fields. The tree in question is the exotic Cupressus lusitanica, which will be ready for harvesting in 30 years. As a plantation tree, it is the best for timber, does not require a lot of water, is drought resistant and easy to manage. “Twenty years ago, this area was like a desert,” recalls James Mwai Muchiri, a teacher from Iruri Secondary School and the patron of the Wildlife Club of Kenya, who has planted 50 seedlings, to correspond with Kenya’s 50 years of Independence celebrations. It was such an eyesore that Serena stepped in with a reforestation programme. Today, the hotel chain has planted over one million trees in different parts of the country. Tree seedlings are distributed to schools and churches during the rainy season. By midday, 5,000 seedlings have been planted in the potato field by the group, which includes David Boyer, senior director of the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for the Environment. In his 70s, with a jovial demeanour, he has planted 70; 50 for Kenya’s 50th Independence celebrations and 20 because he was having so much fun. In 2011, during the International Year of Forests, the AKDN entered into a partnership with Lions Club International to plant trees to reach the target of 10 per cent forest cover in Kenya. “The idea is to plant trees in for- est plantations that can provide fuel, food and fodder to the communities,” Boyer says. “It’s a way to protect the endangered indigenous forests, which are biodiversity-rich, and provide essential ecoservices such as clean air, water and habitat to the last of the wild.” David Boyer ‘‘ working with other partners to conserve Kenya’s water towers,” said Dr Manilal Dodhia, the Lions ambassador to Unicef and Unep. “Five years ago, we had rampant water shortages and power cuts in the country due to massive deforestation. We depend on hydro-power and if there is no hydro, there’s no power.” “It’s important to involve the local community in management,” said Jackson Karumba, the Kenya Forest Service forest manager at Hombe forest. The forest bordering Mount Kenya Forest Reserve covers 3,618 hectares: 2,336 hectares of indigenous forest and 1,162 hectares of plantation forest. Under the new KFS system — Plan- It’s a way to protect tation Establishment for Livelihood Improvement Scheme (Pelis) — established in 2008, communities living adjacent to forests are supported through promotion of livelihood improvement programmes. It is different from the Shamba System, which was abolished in 2003, largely faulted for contributing towards more deforestation as the landless established settlements within the zones and refused to move out after the allotted time. Under Pelis, the survival rate for trees planted is good since seedlings that die must be replaced. “Under Pelis, plots are rented out for three years to registered individuals in CBOs,” explains Karumba. There are conditions to ensure that no farmers settle in the forests and no dogs or livestock are allowed in either.
December 23rd 2013
January 6th 2014