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Tree planting programme prospers in Mount Kenya

30 June, 2015 - 15:06 -- World Land Trust
Chris Smith and Joan Gichuki with a local farmer at Mount Kenya.

Tree planting projects in Mount Kenya are thriving, say staff of World Land Trust (WLT) following a field trip to Kenya to monitor progress.

WLT’s tree planting in Kenya is carried out in partnership with Nature Kenya. The programme focuses on restoring forests and gradually replacing non native trees with native ones, in line with a plan drawn up by the Kenya Forest Service.

The challenge for any tree planting programme is to ensure that saplings, once planted, grow to maturity. Planting a tree is just the first step: protecting it from weeds, grazing livestock and wildlife may require many years of husbandry.

In Mount Kenya, WLT is supporting initiatives that give local people an incentive to provide ongoing care for young trees.

Community support

In the vicinity of Mount Kenya Forest WLT’s tree planting programme has been highly successful and the trees are flourishing. This is thanks to PELIS (plantation establishment and livelihood improvement scheme), an initiative which encourages farmers to grow crops alongside newly planted native tree species.

Farmers take care of both trees and crops on a 10 year cycle. Once the canopy closes after 10 years, PELIS farmers start cultivating crops alongside newly planted trees in a different area.

Nature Kenya logo

WLT has also funded tree planting on the Kikuyu escarpment in south west Kenya and in South Nandi in west Kenya. In these areas, where saplings are vulnerable to grazing livestock, WLT and Nature Kenya are considering ways to ensure young trees are better protected: by implementing stricter controls on grazing, for example, and by planting trees that are not palatable to livestock.

Woodlots

Kenyans living in rural areas need wood for fuel and for shelter, and Kenya’s indigenous forests, if unprotected, provide a plentiful supply of timber. To relieve pressure on native forests, WLT is funding the planting of fast growing tree species on farmland for domestic and commercial use.

In South Nandi, in partnership with Nature Kenya, WLT has provided funds for farmers to establish woodlots. Establishing areas of fast growing non-native species such as eucalyptus in controlled areas provides an important source of timber for fuel and construction, fencing and telegraph poles. To ensure that trees grow to maturity Nature Kenya carefully selects people to look after the trees.

Schools near South Nandi Forest are also using woodlots as an educational tool, by teaching students how to look after trees in order to further their understanding of conservation.

More information

Members of the conservation programmes team of World Land Trust, Chris Smith (Technical Specialist - Ecosystem Services) and Natalie Singleton (Assistant Programmes Officer) travelled to Kenya in April 2015 to monitor the progress of reforestation projects supported by WLT.

Funds for tree planting in Kenya have been provided by WLT’s corporate supporters. Find out how your company can support WLT’s conservation and reforestation projects »

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