A few months ago we promised some exciting news on developments to our Centenary Campaign in Kenya: 20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests.
We’ve recently expanded our tree planting to Northern Mount Kenya, bringing on board a new partner – Mount Kenya Trust. Mount Kenya Trust will plant over 240,000 trees, restoring native forest.
A gap in the forest belt
The Northern slopes of Mount Kenya seem a world away from Embu County, where the first phase of the campaign was launched in 2015. Of all of Mount Kenya, the North-west of the mountain has the smallest remaining piece of natural forest. Vast expanses of bare land, once natural forest, are to be found on the slopes above farms and small towns below. This dry and exposed land leads onto the Afro-alpine moorlands and giant heath above – rich in biodiversity and interesting species of fauna and flora.
The area was cleared several decades ago following the resettlement of populations within the forest boundaries. Mount Kenya Trust began reforesting this gap in the forest in 2012, and have been extremely successful in establishing trees. As in all our work, local communities are key to tree planting here – planting them alongside their potatoes!
Improving livelihoods, planting trees
Mount Kenya Trust support local community members to earn a living off the land whilst the native forest is restored. Known as the Plantation Establishment Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS for short), this system allocates small parcels of land on the mountain for local people to cultivate. In exchange, they plant rows of trees within their plots and care for them until the canopy begins to close. A new parcel of land is then allocated, gradually reforesting large areas of land. Mount Kenya Trust will work with 1,000 farmers on 240 hectares of land.
When well managed, PELIS can create wealth and restore forest with very high success rates. One parcel of land can provide an income of almost $1,000 a year to a farmer. There are approximately four million people living within the adjacent counties often on small plots of land. Many of them are subsistence farmers who depend on agriculture as their only income.
Restoring the forest
Reducing poverty through PELIS is just one of the aims of the project. The ultimate goal is to plant a range of native trees on the land and close the gap in the Mount Kenya Forest, restoring ecosystems and providing habitats for wildlife.
With projects to both sides of Mount Kenya, the impact that our Centenary Campaign will make is growing. Mount Kenya forest is the country’s largest ‘Water Tower’, so called because of the vital rivers that run from it, providing fresh water and hydroelectricity to inhabitants across the country. As 20 Million Trees builds up momentum, we’ll be working with community-based organisations in all of Kenya’s main highland forests, improving water catchment, livelihoods, wildlife habitats and many other vital services.