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A conservation legacy to be proud of


I’m sorry to say that this will be my last blog on our work in Coastal Kenya as I’m leaving WWF.

Thank you

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for engaging with my blog and also to reflect on the progress we’ve made during my time with WWF.

Today, Kenya’s coastal forests are recognised for their globally important biodiversity richness and for their importance to local livelihoods. Our work has been about ensuring that those two elements – nature and people – work in harmony.

 Elias and Rose planting a tree I also get stuck in with planting trees! 2013

Trees for the future

In my last blog, you’ll remember I told you about a new project that we’ve recently launched, funded by the Federal Government of Germany. This 3-million-euro project will really help to consolidate the progress we’ve already made and ensure that positive impacts are sustained.

Part of Kaya Mrima Forest Part of Kaya Mrima Forest – an established forest in the Coastal Kenya region.

Happily, it’s been raining hard here in Coastal Kenya and that’s meant that forest creation and reforestation efforts under this project can really get going. In the last couple of weeks, we’ve already planted more than 35,000 indigenous seedlings in selected degraded forest sites across Kwale County!

It all starts with seedlings

The seedlings we’ve been planting are sourced from local community groups, with youth groups and women groups being given priority. So far, this has earned these groups USD 60,000 and they’ve been using that money to support themselves and to further improve the tree nursery.

Women actively participate in tree growing for conservation and income generationWomen actively participate in tree growing for conservation and income generation

We’ve focused planting of the seedlings along the boundary of existing forest blocks to help secure them and so far, we’ve planted nearly 30km of forest boundary.

Community trees

We made sure that local communities who live near these forest boundaries were involved in the seedling planting. In doing this we create a sense of ownership; everyone wants the seedlings to grow into tall trees that will help future generations.

Meeting members of an indigenous community.Me (second from left) Meeting members of an indigenous community. 2016

Lucky Mboga, a local community member, echoed the sentiments of many when he said: “For the first time in Gogoni Forest, I have planted a tree in it. I feel that the forest is part of me, I have this unending urge to protect and secure it”. It’s truly heartening to hear the local community talk about nature in this way.

Sacred forests

We also got some great news for Kaya forest conservation.

Kaya forests are the sacred forests of the Mijikenda peoples of coastal Kenya. They’re really important for both cultural and biodiversity reasons.

A visitor in Kinondo sacred forest in deep meditationA visitor in Kinondo sacred forest in deep meditation

As a result of our support, the nine Kaya forest that make up the Sacred Mijikenda Kaya Forest World Heritage Site, and their buffer zones, have been selected as an implementation landscape under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme.

A total of 10 grass root civil society organisations are receiving grants totaling USD 31,000. These grants will help improve livelihoods, strengthen land management and biodiversity conservation, support access to clean-energy solutions, and enable indigenous knowledge to be passed on through generations.

Elias Kimaru with Fatuma © Cath Lawson/WWFElias Kimaru with Fatuma © Cath Lawson/WWF

It’s the first time that the Kaya forest communities will be responsible for the resources provided to support Kaya conservation. WWF Kenya will, of course, walk closely with the communities to ensure that the impacts are felt now and in the future.

Elias Kimaru in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest © Diane Walkington_WWFElias Kimaru in the Arabuko-Sokoke forest © Diane Walkington_WWF

A conservation legacy to be proud of

I am sad to be leaving WWF, but I am also full of hope. Communities are involved in conservation efforts here in Coastal Kenya more now than ever. And as long as that’s the case, the future is bright!

Elias Kimaru

WWF’s Coastal Kenya Programme is kindly supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and Size of Wales. We are very grateful for the continued support.

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