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Sustainable charcoal, a common vision and improved information at Kwale’s sacred forests


I’ve blogged before about the Kaya forests – areas regarded as sacred, which are also rich in fauna and flora.

Over the last month information signs have been posted at all Kaya’s in the Kwale landscape, reminding the public of the protected status of the forests and warning people not to cause damage.

Community member fixing a gazette notice around Kaya Chale forest © Elias Kimaru / WWF-CymruCommunity member fixing a gazette notice around Kaya Chale forest © Elias Kimaru / WWF-Cymru

The signs were put up by the National Museums of Kenya (the government department responsible for conservation of the Kayas), local Kaya elders and interested youth. This is good news for all of us who care about these sacred and special forests – let’s hope it makes a difference!

The enormous demand for charcoal, the number one choice of fuel for cooking locally, is driving the clearing of forests in the area.

Traditional charcoal making where trees are felled in an unselective manner and then “cooked” in earth kilns to produce charcoal is highly energy inefficient, uses tonnes of wood and with no replanting of tree seedlings has caused major degradation in Kwale.

WWF has been involved in helping businesses in the area operate more sustainably including the Lunga Lunga ranch, a community run sustainable charcoal association, which recently started operating on a pilot basis.

The ranch, supported by WWF, Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and other partners, has developed environmental plans and established a tree nursery with more than 20,000 seedlings of fast-growing species which are good for charcoal.

An important workshop was also held recently to help design a new five year plan for conservation work in Kwale and develop a common vision for managing its natural resources. Representatives from government, local communities, the private sector, education and other non-governmental organisations agreed on statements setting out what we want to achieve over the next 5 years. These include thriving wildlife, sustainable use of natural resources and conserving local identities and cultures.

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