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.”