3 simple ways to reforest the Amboseli ecosystem

The home of the African Elephants as its famously referred to, the Amboseli ecosystem is home to the big 5 and a key biodiversity hotspot. The most intriguing bit is the association between indigenous communities and wildlife. It has been like this for ages when the wildlife and community had peaceful coexistence with nature and the resources were enough to sustain both the people and wildlife. But this is drastically changing. The dry season is lasting 2 to 11 months. The woodland land covers that once thrived have reduced from 30 to only 10 percent while swamps and grasslands are increasing. 

In 1960 population of Kenya was 8.12 million in 2022 it’s 56 million. This has led to a rise in demand for land for settlement and farming. A common but sad scene these days are the sprouting of farms in Amboseli, including along wildlife corridors (This is a story of another day). These activities affect both wildlife and human.

However, all hope is not lost. Many organizations are working to ensure that the Amboseli ecosystem is restored. Leading on the frontline is CHD Conservation Kenya. CHD Conservation Kenya and the Amboseli community have taken up various approaches to achieve the goal of reforestation through the Tupende Mazingira program. Here are 3 crucial steps we’re using that can be applied anywhere else to conduct reforestation:

  1. Environment education and outreach program

 “In the end, we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.”

Baba Dioum

It’s crucial to educate the community about their environment and the need to conserve it. We teach about the role of vegetation in our ecosystem and how best to live sustainably in it.

This involves a lot of outreach programs in schools, churches, and community meetings. It’s also crucial to involve local authorities, this way we’re bringing in all stakeholders on deck.

Once every stakeholder has understood why we need to reforest the ecosystem, it’s an opportunity to move to the next step.

2. Tree nursery

One of the major challenges faced in reforestation programs is the lack of enough tree seedlings. Once everyone is aware of the importance of trees, the next question becomes where can we get these tree seedlings to grow? That’s where the tree nursery come in. A tree nursery is where young trees are given special care. 

A tree nursery is mandatory in reforesting large ecosystems. Ensuring that you set up a tree nursery where the communities can easily access tree seedlings to continue growing trees. Proper research should be done to identify the specific indigenous trees that will be grown in the nursery.

We encourage the planting of trees of the species that are indigenous and native as well as others that are not native to the land but would thrive in the savannah ecosystem if well taken care of. Once the nursery is up and running, we move to the 3rd step.

3. Massive tree growing and nurturing.

Once the tree seedlings in your nursery are ready, it’s time to engage again all stakeholders you reached in your outreach program. This will involve supplying tree seedlings to schools and assigning students to take care of them. Supplying some to churches, markets, communal lands, the park, and many more areas.

Ensuring that everyone who can plant a tree and help it grow has been provided with a seedling. Engaging communities to ensure they take part in the program as well is very important.

Apart from these three crucial steps, it’s equally important to note reforestation can occur if there’s proper management of the overgrazing situation. Overgrazing removes the cover of the soil hence turning grassland into a dry area. We can also introduce ranches that can be divided into paddocks to allow land to fallow and a new generation of trees to survive. As for the source of fuel, we promote the use of alternative sources of energy such as biogas due to the availability of animal dropping or solar energy, this will reduce the need to cut trees for wood.

After the successful growing of these viable tree seedlings until they are considered mature it is important to have a regular routine of maintenance for it to be considered successful. The follow-up plan must include instructions on how to safeguard the newly-forested region from dangers including fire, illness, infestation, and unauthorized logging, among others. Ensure replanting, maintenance and inspection are crucial. We invite you to volunteer, donate to our projects and help us spread awareness to conserve and reforest the Amboseli ecosystem.

Authored by: Elsie Muliebi Ashiono and Collins Busuru

CHD Conservation Kenya 22nd Nov 2022

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