The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) in collaboration with Base Titanium Limited has planted over 23, 000 tree seedlings at Sierra Leone part of Maasai Mau forest in Narok South Sub County.
Narok South Deputy County Commissioner Felix Kisalu, who led the planting exercise, said already 3.5 million seedlings have been planted in the forest land since people were evicted from the forest two years ago.
Kisalu lauded different organizations that have volunteered to adapt portions of the forest land to plant trees which has made the work easy.
He reiterated that the government has employed 20 community scouts to man the forest land who control the cutting of grass in the forest land.
Narok Ecosystem Conservator Safari Opiyo, said the tree seedlings were sourced from the communities living around the forest while those contracted to facilitate the planting exercise were the people who were evicted from the forestland.
“More than 300 families living near the forest benefited from the tree planting exercise. Those contracted were supposed to plant and tender the seedlings,” said Opiyo.
The conservator observed that over one million seedlings have been planted in different parts of the forest land since the re-afforestation exercise began.
“We choose to use the local community so that they too can benefit from the forest. We have worked with the evictees to plant millions of tree seedlings in various parts of the forest,” he added.
Micah Muema, a representative from Base Titanium, said his Kwale based organization adapted 84 acres of forest land to plant trees since last year.
So far, he said, they have planted seedlings in 64 acres and the 20 acres remaining will be planted in the course of the year.
At the same time, Muema said they have been training the communities living around the forest land to set up nursery beds so that they too could benefit from selling the tree seedlings.
“We make sure we buy the tree seedlings from the local communities so that we can teach them the value of conserving the environment. They will feel that they are part of the project and will help in nurturing the seedlings,” he said.
The organization also works closely with KFS and Narok Natural Resource Network who give technical knowledge on tree planting. They identify the best species to plant and help in nurturing the seedlings.
The Narok Natural Resource Network chairman Nicholas Murero, said they will be moving to schools to train pupils on how to put up tree nursery beds as well as training them on conservation.
“We are targeting two or three pilot schools to train others. We are not planning to plant trees in Mau only but also in other parts of the county like the Maasai Mara and other institutions.
In the year 2018 and 2019, the government evicted over 5, 000 families from the Maasai Mau forest to reclaim the forest land that had been invaded.
After the evictions, the government commenced the process of putting up a 30 kilometer electrical fence to protect the forest from any future human settlement.
By Ann Salaton