Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in partnership with different stakeholders is targeting to rehabilitate 600 hectares of degraded uplands escarpment in Lari Sub-County, Kiambu County.
Speaking to KNA yesterday during a field visit of the various projects being implemented by the government, County Forest Conservator Thomas Kiptoo said that the area, which was formerly covered with indigenous trees had been exploited leaving it fragile, prone to landslides.
“This area is also a water tower. It is a catchment area for rivers like the Mara river which trickle down to Lake Victoria, and hence the need to rehabilitate and conserve it,” he added.
Kiptoo explained that 55,000 trees have already been planted on 250 hectares of land in Kinale forest station, and a further 50 hectares of indigenous trees have been planted in Kijabe forest block.
Among the stakeholders, said Kiptoo, are Eden Reforestation, Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), Kenya Re, Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO), Kijabe Friends Trust (KFT) and East Africa Wildlife services.
Through the project, community members are encouraged to plant cover crops like beans and peas through the Tree Establishment and Livelihood Skills (TELiS), which involves planting crops between tree spaces to reduce soil erosion.
Other livelihood programmes that are nature based include mushroom, potato production and bee keeping which are fully supported by KFS.
“The people around have been very supportive of our project. That is why we decided to bring in the livelihood support programmes to support them as we also address food security,” said Kiptoo.
The conservator pointed out that measures are being taken to address long term and immediate invasion by unruly citizens to ensure completion and sustainability of the project.
“We have reduced spacing between the trees from the normal four metres to 2.5 metres, so that trees will grow more densely, locking out any continued farming because it eventually leads to cutting down of trees,” he said.
He explained further, for confidentiality and easy follow up, the area is guarded by only one ranger sourced from the Eden Reforestation group.
“We also have enough seedlings grown and maintained in the KFS nursery to plant in the area including some that we get from kind donations,” Kiptoo noted.
For a long period now, Wetlands have continuously degraded via agricultural activities, pollution and settlements and in Lari sub-county for example, increase in population pressure, decline in soil fertility, unreliable rainfall plus quest for food security has been forcing farmers to encroach on the Upland wetland.