ITF is almost a 100 years old, it is fitting for us to re-think our programme when it all began – in Kenya, in 1922.
Between forest conservation and engaging with the next generation
In 2016 ITF launched a campaign called ‘’20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests’’, a programme that aimed to restore 20,000 hectares of Kenya’s highlands, water tower forests and enhance sustainable livelihoods for 50,000 households. Kenya’s forests have suffered massive deforestation as a result of mismanagement, illegal logging, charcoal production and conversion of forest land to agriculture. Restoring these native forests is a significant task, and the ITF Kenyan programme ’20 Million Trees for Kenya’s Forests’ is contributing to it.
We have three major pillars including forest landscape restoration (growing trees in the forest), agroforestry (Integrating crops and trees) and working with young environmental stewards (encourages young people to value and care for trees, through outdoor education and global learning). Through the support of corporates, international and local organizations, we have been able to grow over a million trees mostly indigenous, and improved community livelihoods. The programme aims to improve natural resource management and restore forest cover for local communities, the wider Kenyan population, biodiversity and wildlife.
ITF and the use of a community based approach
Currently we have projects in and around Mount Kenya, In Mau ecosystem, along Mara River, in and around Kakamega forest and we are working to develop projects in Cherangany, Kisumu and Mount Elgon. We are also expanding the programme to other areas in Kenya. ITF uses a community based approach whereby we work with local community based organisations, self-help groups and schools to carry our tree planting activities. We have been mobilizing and training the communities on environmental conservation, climate change, governance and community empowerment in addition to actual tree growing.
Based on our experience in environmental conservation and management, we believe that community empowerment and engagement is the only feasible and sustainable way to ensure that natural resources will be protected and ecosystems restored. When local communities are empowered and educated to understand their environment, their natural resources, and the linkage between forests and their own livelihoods, they are more likely to take care of and protect these resources.