The results are in from the first season of planting for ITF’s 20 Million Trees Campaign! 68,500 seedlings were planted on deforested land and on farms during the rainy months of November and December in Kenya.
Community groups from six towns and villages around Embu County, situated on the South-Eastern slopes of Mount Kenya, were involved in the planting. Our local partner Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation (MKEC) have been coordinating “Mount Kenya Forest Landscape Restoration” – phase one of the campaign. Tree planting involves a substantial amount of work – from raising the seedlings in community nurseries to digging holes and actually planting and watering the trees. In total, 50,000 trees native to the area were planted in Magaca, a severely deforested area of Mount Kenya Forest.
Planting trees for improved small-holder farming
A further 18,500 trees were planted on the land of 502 smallholder farmers. Agroforestry – integrating trees into agricultural systems – is an important element of 20 Million Trees. By growing certain tree species and using simple techniques, agroforestry can increase crop yields substantially by improving the soil.
Equally important are the benefits to the households involved, as well as the natural forest. Increased crop yields will improve income, and by planting fruit trees such as mangoes, avocados and tree tomatoes a ready source of nutrients will be available to the family. Increased tree cover on farmland will also mean that communities are less dependent on Mount Kenya forest for firewood and fodder, protecting the forest from over-exploitation.
Community-run nurseries steaming ahead!
Lucy Wambeti is one of the participants who has been involved in tree planting in Magaca. Lucy is a member of Wamiti Women’s Group, who run one of the nurseries raising seedlings to be planted in the forest and on farms.
Over 60% of project participants so far are women. Wamiti is just one of ten community groups who are managing their own nurseries – three of which are women’s groups. Our partner on the ground Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation coordinates and trains these groups, as well as supplying them with good quality seeds to sow.
Lucy and other community members like her are now preparing for the next planting season in April. Over 190,000 seedlings are already growing in the nurseries – 140,000 for reforestation and 40,000 for growing on farms. More fruit trees will be sown over the coming weeks, to keep up with growing demand from local communities.
Scaling-up in 2017
Ten months after the official launch of 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests, we’ve secured enough funding to bring on new community-based partners. We’d like to thank our sponsors, including Mars who provided initial funding and TreeSisters, Wessanen UK and Batelier as well as all those who are regularly donating or have donated in the past.
Building up to our Centenary in 2024, we hope to expand the campaign to all of Kenya’s 5 Water Tower forests – so called because of their vital role in replenishing rivers and lakes. Keep your eyes peeled to see how the campaign is developing.
If you would like to support the 20 Million Trees campaign, please sign-up to give regularly, every one of you is making it happen!