World Land Trust (WLT) has agreed to a second year of funding for a forest conservation project in South Nandi, western Kenya.
WLT’s 2014 funding will enable Nature Kenya to plant native trees to restore 235 acres (95 hectares) of cleared forest in South Nandi. The forest is an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area and home of the endangered Turner’s Eremomela (Eremomela turneri).
The decision to provide funding for a second year reflects not only the success of WLT’s tree planting in Kenya in 2013 but also the need for a long term strategy for forest restoration.
“Managing the successful growth to maturity of newly planted trees is a key to the success of forest conservation,” explains Roger Wilson, WLT’s Senior Conservationist (Special Projects Development). “If we are to ensure the trees are properly maintained, we must think in terms of a multi-year project. One year of planting implies three to five years of protection, so WLT has built in moderate levels of targeted, ongoing funding to ensure a positive outcome for the project in the long term.”
Nature Kenya’s model for conservation is grounded in ‘site support groups’ (SSGs) made up of local people engaged in practical conservation. In South Nandi Nature Kenya works closely with the South Nandi Biodiversity Conservation Group to establish Community Forest Associations (CFAs), develop sustainable nature based enterprises, and raise awareness of the sustainable use of natural resources.
“The organisational framework that underpins WLT’s forest conservation project is very reliable, and the project is having a positive impact on conservation strategy in the area because it is helping strengthen the CFAs and the SSGs and build local support for conservation,” said Roger.
Kenyans living near the forest rely on it for fuel and timber for fencing and construction. WLT addresses this local need by funding tree planting in woodlots outside the forest to relieve pressure on the existing forest.
On site visits to Kenya, WLT staff have been impressed by the success of woodlots created on small local farms with WLT funding. In 2014, another 65,000 trees will be planted in village woodlots and 30,000 trees will be provided for school woodlots.
Alongside tree planting in schools other environmental activities will be incorporated into the curriculum as a long term strategy to enhance the practice and understanding of conservation among children and young people.
South Nandi is a mid-elevation forest in western Kenya, transitional between the lowland forests of West and Central Africa and the montane forests of the central Kenya highlands.
South Nandi has IBA status because it is the world’s most important site for Turner’s Eremomela, listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. South Nandi is also one of the most threatened IBAs in Kenya.
Pressure on the forest is extreme, with a dense and growing human population surrounding the area. In some areas tree poaching, platform sawing and illegal production of charcoal are serious problems.
Forest antelope are illegally hunted, and honey gathering also poses a conservation threat as collectors often fell whole trees to reach a nest. The trees felled are usually old and large with natural cavities that offer important nesting sites for a range of forest birds.
In other areas grazing is preventing natural forest regeneration.
Funds for tree planting in Kenya have been provided from WLT’s corporate supporters. Find out how your company can support WLT’s conservation and reforestation projects »
Image of Turner’s Eremomela courtesy of Megan Perkins and www.ARKive.org