Communities living in Saboti forest and its environs have adopted environmentally friendly practices to preserve forest plantation, as the national government targets to plant more trees to restore tree cover.
The forester in charge of Saboti forest station, Isaac Khaemba said communities have embraced a working relationship with the government to conserve the environment through the forest user rights programme.
He said under Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS), community members are able to cultivate plots of land while taking care of trees.
He said that a total of 1424 hectares of forest in Saboti forest station were put under the PELIS program where communities take care of the trees.
“PELIS works and it has helped in improving the survival count of trees planted towards the development of forest plantation,” he said.
Through a program, Population Health and Environment (PHE) under the Lake Victoria Basin Commission (LVBC), community members have also formed self-help groups that raise various types of seedlings to continue in establishing forest plantation.
One of the PHE Champions, Protus Ndiema said that they have raised more than 75, 000 tree seedlings which are ready for planting during the next rainy season.
He said the program assist community members to conserve the forest and the environment while drawing a living from environmentally friendly activities.
Tree seedlings obtained from the nurseries are planted in the forest to boost forest cover, while others are sold to the community members to plant in their homes to further increase the 10% cover.
Other initiatives include the use of energy saving Jikos in their homes to minimize use of firewood and the use of traditional beehives in beekeeping.
The chairman in charge of beekeeping at Saboti Forest Station, Christopher Nyongesa said they decided to venture into the use of traditional beehives to improve their livelihoods and preserve their culture, besides conservation initiatives.
He said traditional beehives are easy to establish, unlike the modern ones which are expensive to acquire. They have established more than 250 traditional beehives in the forest.
By Pauline Ikanda/Moses Wekesa