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Tree planting and the fight to save a wildlife hotspot


I am sure by now you will have enjoyed watching the documentary from Kwale which shares lessons learned and our experiences of delivering conservation and livelihood improvement. With continued support from you, I am certain we will attain greater milestones.

Children take part in tree planting in the Kaya Waa forest, KenyaChildren take part in tree planting in the Kaya Waa forest, Kenya. © Elias Kimaru / WWF-Cymru

Kwale has been very busy during the months of May and June. This is because May-June is the main tree planting season. Promoting tree planting on farms is one of the key activities in our calendar.

Although the rains came late this year, across the region over recent years rainfall patterns have become more and more unpredictable, WWF partnered with community groups and other institutions to plant over 150,000 tree seedlings. The tree seedlings acquired from community owned nurseries were planted on private farms, schools and in water catchment areas. The community groups earned almost US$28,000 from the sale of the seedlings.

Meanwhile, plans to mine for rare metals in the sacred Mrima forest, a nature reserve which is internationally recognized for its bird life, have raised concerns. At a public meeting organized by NEMA (the National Environment Management Authority) many organisations, including groups supported by WWF, raised objections to the proposals. Reasons for the opposition include potential loss of wildlife and a cultural site as well as the huge amount of water which will be needed for mining operations in an area where water is scarce.

Mrima Forest is one of several high value conservation sites in Kwale with 464 recorded species flora and fauna in an area of just 350 hectares. This highlights that Kaya forests, such as Mrima, are incredibly rich in biodiversity and home to many unique species. Any loss of the forest to mining will not only cause irreversible damage to the biodiversity and cultural value of the forest, but will also be a big blow to attaining the national target of achieving 10% forest cover in Kenya.

WWF-Kwale has also supported an assessment of the carbon stored in the Dzombo forest. There is potential to increase the level of carbon there through Participatory Forest Management, which would help regenerate the forest thus increasing levels of standing carbon.

This would help tackle climate change, as forests are vital carbon sinks – globally absorbing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere – and could also raise US$60,000 per year for communities taking part.

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