In 2018, the Kenyan government imposed a moratorium on timber harvesting in all public and community forests ‘to allow for the recovery and audit of forest resources in Kenya,’ a knee jerk response to an alarming drop of water levels in all major rivers in the country.
This flailing attempt to ban logging in order to save Kenya’s water towers has had a number of implications: swathes of mature trees planted for commercial use in the Baringo, Marakwet, Keiyo, Kericho counties and the Mount Kenya region – valued at about Ksh 30 Billion – are rotting in the plantations. This significant loss of revenue to the Ministry of Environment and the Kenya Forest Service has led to serious budget cuts and compromised the agencies’ capacity to deliver critical environment management projects including the Nairobi River Cleanup exercise.
Additionally, the gap in local supply of timber forced the market to respond in an unnatural way; leading to over exploitation of farm trees and harvesting of immature trees in neighboring countries of Congo and Tanzania; essentially contributing to degradation of other forest ecosystems in the region.
Fortunately, the timber moratorium lapses this November and the Kenya Forest Working Group (KFWG) – an independent government watchdog for sound forest practices in Kenya, proposes that it be dispensed with altogether. Instead, KFWG proposes strengthening of local enforcement agencies and local governance units to curb illegal and unchecked logging.
Additionally, KFWG suggests that the ‘Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme’ (PELIS) currently under threat of being scraped, instead be reviewed and improved and that issues of corruption within government agencies be dealt with firmly.
If you would like more information about the Kenya Forest Working Group, please visit https://www.kenyaforests.org/
At one of Kenya’s most endangered lakes, community control over the natural resource offers residents new income, infrastructure and dignity.
Lake Ol’ Bolossat, Central Province’s only natural lake, is home to a wealth of bird species including the endangered grey crowned crane, attracting tourists and researchers interested in different migratory birds coming from as far as Europe and Asia.
As a source of Ewaso Nyiro River, Lake Ol’ Bolossat also supports a large population of people, livestock and wildlife that live downstream in the northern Kenyan arid and semi-arid areas of Laikipia, Samburu, Isiolo and Garissa.
Before intervention by the East African Wild Life Society, the beauty and economic benefits of Lake Ol’ Bolossat were at stake due to overgrazing, quarrying and encroachment on riparian areas.
Locals received little benefit from tourism that was controlled by a private minority group, thus only a handful were incentivized to conserve the natural resource. Lake Ol Bolossat’s wildlife populations plummeted as pollution and droughts increased, with doubts arising on whether the lake would survive the next 15 years.
Previously, discussions on community-led natural resource management in Lake Ol’ Bolossat area had been limited or non-existent. In response, the East African Wild Life Society, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) came onboard to assist the community establish the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group; going a step further to undertake a comprehensive community capacity building program that would see residents of Nyandarua County trained on climate-smart agricultural practices and supported in initiation of said initiatives.
In order to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the conservation group, the East African Wild Life Society had the Lake Ol’ Bolossat Community Conservation Group registered and licensed; successfully lobbying for the creation of a legal framework by the Nyandarua County Government to enhance coordination and collaboration between the County Government, National Government and residents of Lake Ol’ Bolossat in a benefit sharing scheme.
Now, the Lake Ol’ Bolossat community and wider Nyandarua area residents are assured of improved access to clean and safe water, regular water supply for their farming activities and diversified means of earning a livelihood.
If you would like to be part of EAWLS’ success stories, please visit https://eawildlife.org/membership/ to view our membership categories.
November 1st, 2019 marked the beginning of a massive restoration exercise of the Maasai Mau Forest following the lapse of a 60 day evacuation notice for (illegal) settlers in Kenya’s largest endangered water tower.
“Reclamation of the degraded Maasai Mau has been very successful with 96% of the illegal settlers having left voluntarily,” said Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko.
Speaking during the launch of the 10 million Maasai Mau reforestation program, where he led the planting of over 200,000 seedlings, CS Tobiko disclosed that 35,000 acres of the critical water tower had now been reclaimed. He thanked the community for voluntarily moving out of the forest noting that their cooperation ensured the exercise was carried out humanely, in a bid to protect the rights of both upstream and downstream populations as well as the rights of future generations.
The CS added that through aerial seeding technology, 3.5 million seeds of the planned 20 million seeds had been planted in the vast Mau Forest. “This is just a fraction of what we intend to do considering the level of degradation and destruction experienced in the Maasai Mau Forest”, said the CS.
Addressing the media on site, the Kenya Forest Service Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau noted that KFS’s mandate includes forest protection and restoration and called for increased partnership with forest adjacent communities to enhance rehabilitation efforts.
In her remarks, the East African Wild Life Society’s Executive Director, Nancy Ogonje, applauded the recovery of encroached forest lands and the rehabilitation of seriously degraded regions in the Mau escarpment, stating that it is a step in the right direction to support the Mara-Serengeti ecosystems, which are critical to the economies of both Kenya and Tanzania. “We are in support of the government’s initiative to grow trees in the Mau and other degraded forest lands in Kenya. We also call upon all stakeholders and the general public to support efforts of restoring the Mau forest. The East African Wildlife Society through the Forest Challenge rehabilitation program provides an opportunity for any interested party and individuals to participate in the restoration of Kenya’s water sheds, including the Mau Forest.”
The smiling faces captured in the Imre Loefler University Talks’ banner sharply contrast with the sombre faces of the University students filing into Strathmore University’s Main Auditorium. These students mean business- they are here to have a say in their future and ultimately, the future of the planet.
2019 will be remembered as the year young people took to the streets around the world to fight for their future. Inspired by Greta Thunberg and other outspoken teens, millions of young people have been making headlines to raise global awareness of the dire consequences that a lack of sustainable environmental practices and climate change could have for their generation’s future.
Meanwhile, more quietly, but also right here in Kenya, young people have been charting that future as they help their communities adapt to the changes already happening.
The Imre Loefler University Talks launched on September 25th 2019 by the East African Wild Life Society and Konrad-Adeneur Stiftung Foundation, aim to guide and nurture these efforts, with insightful panel discussions ranging in topic from ‘Corporate social responsibility to green business’; ‘Sustainable Development Goals Implementation in a profit driven world’; to ‘Supporting youth in conservation enterprise’.
“Why the focus on youth? In essence, because youth are setting today’s (consumption) trends and will be tomorrow’s decision makers. There are 2-3 billion new consumers—most of them young—expected to come on line in urban settings around the world. So it is critical to work with youth to make more sustainable living and lifestyles ‘the new normal’.” -Garrette Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Programme Officer at UNEP.
The last of this series of talks will take place on November 22nd, 2019 and we invite you to witness the rise of an environmentally conscious generation.
Deep in Kereita Forest, not far from the scenic Rift Valley view point, the venue of the most anticipated forest conservation event to ever be held in the region is beginning to take its final form.
The Forest Challenge’s 8km route has already been mapped, all 13 obstacle courses are just about set up and participating teams are gearing up to compete for and win the title of ‘Forest Champions’.
Aready, vendors are jostling for the best places to pitch their stands to best serve the over 700 expected Forest Challenge participants.
In a little over 2 weeks, the East African Wild Life Society will lead some of Kenya’s most conservation forward corporates in driving the agenda that is rehabilitation of the Mau water towers by planting and growing over 20,000 tree seedlings.
”We are excited to partner with a number of corporates this year to drive the Forest rehabilitation agenda in Kenya and this Forest Challenge is poised to be the biggest yet,” Gideon Bett- Team lead, Forest Challenge.
Royal Media Services has partnered with the Forest Challenge to lend their significant media sway to amplify the event to an even larger audience, supplementing the visibility we’ve enjoyed from strategic billboards mounted around Nairobi by our partners.
The Concord Hotel will wine and dine the wining team, while Base Camp explorer is offering two lucky Forest Challenge attendees a complimentary stay at their surreal Maasai Mara Bush Camp.
Archery, horse riding and rover rides will be on offer at discounted rates for spectators courtesy of ‘The Forest” .
Don’t be left out! Bring your family, friends and colleagues for this memorable event for a good cause and let’s Get Dirty For A Reason!
Click here to get your tickets today!