Balancing record human populations with diminishing and degraded natural resources is getting more challenging every day. Meanwhile, climate change is making that balancing act more complex, as agriculture, water, wildlife and communities are feeling the impact in most regions of the world.
Because of these factors, biodiversity is under assault like never before and the web of life could collapse in some regions of the world within a few years. Each regional collapse will contribute to the global spiral. Eastern Africa is one region that’s at a critical point now.
Thanks to collaborative and comprehensive planning by enthusiastic leaders in Kenya and Tanzania, we have a plan for a massive conservation program in East Africa that can help us fight climate change, poverty and wildlife poaching (see East Africa Plan for the combined presentation).
Deforestation In Kenya
In Kenya, for example, Mt. Kenya is the main source of all water. That water also is used to generate 60 percent of the nation’s electricity. Unsustainable use of forest resources is threatening the forests and local livelihoods. Kenya’s forestry situation is the worst of the nations in the region. FAO, through the Forest Resource Assessment report states that only about two percent of the nation has forest cover, far below the regional standard. Reduction of the forest cover is severely impacting the climate, streams, wildlife and human populations.
Unfortunately, people who rely on the forests for their production and who live close to them are being hardest hit by the developing environmental crisis. The livelihoods of small farmers are worsening as a consequence of degradation in land and water resources. As their incomes decline, their contributions to deforestation rise.
To help reverse the negative deforestation trend in East Africa, we are collaborating with regional NGOs, government leaders, community leaders and others to implement several comprehensive and integrated efforts to assure sustainability in the region. We’re working with locals across East Africa to promote economic development and sustainability simultaneously.
Mt. Kenya Conservation and Reforestation
An integrated reforestation, conservation and community education campaign. The Megabridge Foundation is committed to reforesting Kenya. To help reverse the negative deforestation trend in our area (including the areas adjacent to Mt. Kenya forest) we are taking concrete, well planned and systematic action with massive community education to plant new trees, while conserving existing forests. We will establish several tree nurseries and plant at least one million indigenous and agroforestry seedlings each year. The Foundation and its partners will train locals about agroforestry techniques and deforestation, while motivating them to help with reforestation. With additional funding, provinces can be added to the project in the Rift Valley, Eastern, Central, Western, Nyanza and coastal provinces. Our goal is to help the indigenous communities understand the importance of forests and local wildlife. We will explain how our ecosystems are influenced by negative human activities. The communities can help end deforestation, while learning to become more resilient in the face of climate change.
Tsavo East National Park Conservation
Reforestation, wildlife conservation, anti-poaching patrols, sustainable agriculture, community education and more by YouthLink Kenya and many others. Tsavo East is one of the most ecologically important regions of the world. It’s the largest protected area in Kenya. It occupies about four percent of the country’s landmass and has the highest number of Kenya’s estimated 35,000 elephants.
Tsavo East is the best place in the world to see the great tuskers—bull elephants with enormous ivory. These magnificent animals represent an important gene pool, but they also represent a valuable economic asset to Kenya because of wildlife tourism.
Game is abundant for predators, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs, and jackals. Scores of hippo and crocodile live in the Galana River. Tsavo East is rich in resident game with more than 95 species recorded and more than 480 species of birds. The local communities have coexisted with wildlife for many years. Both humans and animals utilize the available rangelands, water and salt licks. They are a pastoral community that depends on the natural balance.
The elephant population in the park now stands at 11,696. Although, the 2014 census has just been conducted and its rumored that the number took a big hit from poachers. Plus, elephants here are not confined to the protected park, which often leads to conflict with the local farmers, especially in the conflict areas of Jipe, Rombo, Galana, Kulalu, Dokota, and Taita. Unfortunately, elephants and humans in Tsavo East are coming into contact more frequently because elephant habitat is being settled by families and used for agriculture.
They will plant 3.5 million indigenous trees over a two-year span. They plan to mobilize massive community participation in the establishment of tree nurseries and tree planting during the rainy seasons. The project will also support community-based anti-poaching operations and informer networks within the region that will secure community support for wildlife conservation. YLK is planning to host a Summit to develop some shared sense of priorities that will guide the effective conservation of the Tsavo Conservation Area Ecosystem into the future. The theme of this proposed 2014 Summit is ‘The Earth in Our Hands: The Landowners’ Perspectives.’
A Wild-Farm Alliance for Tsavo will be established after the Summit as a coalition for landowners and ecological farming advocates. The coalition’s main role will be to promote sustainable agriculture in Tsavo rangelands to help protect and restore nature.
We also will promote the use of bees as a natural deterrent for crop-raiding elephants, especially in the six main conflict areas. Elephants in the Tsavo East are not confined to the Park, therefore, interactions between local farmers and hungry elephants has resulted in serious problems.
In a study by Oxford University, it has been proven that African elephants will actively avoid African honey bees. Beehive fences have been field tested in three rural farming communities in Kenya with an 85 percent success rate in all locations (King et al., 2011). We plan to spread the tactic to save man and beast.
The fences are simple and affordable. Hives are hung every 10 meters. When an elephant touches one of the hives, or interconnecting wire, the beehives all along the fence line will swing and release the bees. The technique, even using recordings of bees, sounds promising. Not only do elephants run away from disturbed bee sounds, but they emit a unique low frequency rumble that warns other elephants in the area to retreat. The use of protective beehive fences around crops can reduce human-elephant conflicts in the Tsavo area. A total of 50 kilometers of fence will be built for local farmers.
We will involve our local Wildlife Champions and Wildlife Ambassadors in several local conservation activities. Such personal and community recognition will help strengthen and stimulate strong interest in local rangeland conservation and restoration.
We will educate, engage and employ locals to improve conservation of the resources in the region. Local farmers will be taught to use more sustainable practices. ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’ and bee products will be sold to generate income.
Wetlands within Tsavo East, which support up to 50,000 local people, will be restored. Plus, the ecological integrity of Tsavo East will be maintained by linking the protected area through forested corridors for the migration of wildlife.
More than 30,000 students, community forests keepers, loggers, farmers associations, landowners, ranchers and community residents will be engaged to participate in the actual wildlife conservation and habitat restoration activities.
One of the major outcomes of this project will be conservation of the rangelands–more than 15,000 hectares outside the protected National Park. (Full detail available upon request.)
Multinational Reforestation and Community Education Program
Earth Keepers Centre plans an integrated reforestation, conservation and community education campaign. The Smart by Nature: Nurseries of Excellence Project (SNNOE) will carry out tree planting and awareness creation. It will encompass children and youth participation drives involving schools and colleges. The SNNOE Project will spread its cost-effective by establishing several nurseries in the region to serve local communities. Earth Keepers Centre of Kenya, will start 100 small, local nurseries and plant 500,000-2,000,000 trees per year. We will spread these nurseries and the plantings in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. (Full detail available upon request.)
Solar-Powered Communities In Rural Kenya
Ahero and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development plan to introduce solar power to 20 villages across Kenya. The power will supply street lighting, schools, community centers, health centers and water supplies. Not only does solar energy curb deforestation, solar energy has brought about an undisputable positive impact in the lives of community members in the five villages where Ahero’s pilot initiative on solar energy was introduced. Beneficiaries have reported an enormous benefit, especially from streetlights. Streetlight poles have enabled villagers to be engaged in a variety of different activities at night, which were previously performed only during the day. This fact alone has brought a tremendous change in their lifestyle and in the way they manage their daily productivity. Ahero, a community-based association, is a concrete success model for improving sustainability, literacy, productivity and governance. The number of individuals attending school has increased significantly now that classrooms are available at night and now that people have regular access to computers and the Internet. (Full Proposal Available Upon Request.)
Conserve Arabuko Forest and Its Wildlife
Kenya’s wildlife and wildlife habitat are under siege. Further deterioration threatens the future of the country and the future of millions of people. The implementation of conservation strategies in coastal parts of Kenya, including Watamu and Kwale, are challenging. The area includes several tribal populations, who consider themselves an integral part of the forest ecosystem. Working closely with these communities is critical to success. Human activities, including agricultural expansion, road construction, urbanization and other developmental activities are major threats to biodiversity and wildlife in the region. According to the Mwangaza Support Group, the most effective way to conserve biodiversity is to prevent further destruction and degradation of habitats in Arabuko and Kwale.
In addition, this project will address the poaching and hunting of endangered species, deforestation and charcoal production. It also will include community education about sustainability, wildlife conservation and watershed protection. The project will establish a registry of flora and fauna and a seed bank that can help promote watershed restoration with native and beneficial plants. It also will expand the capacity of volunteer conservationists in the region.
Some of the mitigation measures have been put in place by the village elders and few CBOs, but they lack the resources necessary to conserve the Arabuko forest. (Full Proposal Available Upon Request.)
Environment and Wildlife Conservation Education in Maasai Mara and Mau Forest Complex
Evergreen Africa is proposing several large-scale community and individual small-holding environmental activities, including wildlife conservation, in Narok, Nakuru and Bomet Counties bordering Mau Complex. This area is a source of tributaries serving lake Victoria in East Africa and the River Nile, which benefits many African regions, including the Maasai Mara game reserve and the Serengeti game reserve.
In the wake of deforestation and consequent drying up of rivers downstream and distinction of wildlife through destruction of ecosystem and human wildlife conflict, this project together with other stakeholders intends to assist in Environment and Wildlife Conservation Education in Maasai Mara and Mau Forest Complex in Kenya covering Narok, Nakuru and Bomet Counties.
Conservation management is a difficult task in the Maasai Mara corridor and Mau complex, which is a vital watershed. The region is dominated by various tribes, which consider themselves part of the forest ecosystem. So far, 356 species of flora and fauna have been recorded in the region. The area is habitat to endangered wildlife. It’s also rich in medicinal and timber plant species. The area attracts tourists and students from around the world. It’s being destroyed by local farmers and villagers who are fighting for survival. They don’t realize that they are destroying the homes of wildlife, and water catchment for the entire mau area and Mara region.
Spotters from the community cut down high-value trees in the forests and sell them illegally to loggers who come with large trucks. The few elephants in the Mara are in danger because the vegetation they survive on is vanishing. Plus, poachers are relentless in their pursuit of ivory.
Agricultural expansion, road construction, logging, urbanization, and other developmental activities are the major threats to biodiversity and wildlife. The most effective and efficient mechanisms for conserving biodiversity is to prevent further destruction and degradation of habitats in Maasai Mara and Mau complex. Community education and empowerment is essential. We will engage, educate and motivate youth groups, CBOs, village elders, local governments and other stakeholders to preserve and restore the environment within the Maasai Mara, Mau Complex.
We will explain the importance and value of saving endangered species, including protected marine areas. The project will addresses the poaching and hunting of endangered species, logging and charcoal burning. We also will evaluate:
- existing wildlife habitat, forest ecosystems within the Mara and Mau forest area;
- legislation and administrative frameworks that govern the conservation of forest ecosystem protected areas;
- existing wildlife protection plans and systems;
- the roles of the local communities in conserving the ecosystems; and
- the threats to ecosystem conservation.
Our proposed biodiversity management and wildlife conservation addresses the deteriorating situation which has seen a decline of biodiversity and tourists. Some of the mitigation measures that have been put in place by the village elders and CBOs lack the resources to accomplish the task of conserving the forest and wildlife. Therefore, we will:
- provide wildlife and environment education to school children through films and members of the community with the skills and information needed to think critically—and to act responsibly—about environmental issues in their local communities;
- encourage students to consider environmental education and environmental service learning as they embark on their future teaching careers;
- expand the pool of area trainers who can teach other local teachers in the use of these two strategies;
- train as many local teachers as possible to incorporate environmental education and service learning into their everyday classroom activities;
- develop stronger partnerships between the Return of the Natives program, the local Service Learning center, and area schools;
- maintain a sustainable approach between customs and culture of tribes and biodiversity conservation;
- establish inventory of threatened, new and endemic plant species;
- conserve critical/important plant/animal species affected in the region;
- provide incentives for research, training and public education to increase awareness about the importance of biodiversity;
- prepare a comprehensive and proactive Forest Protection Plan; and
- start tree seedlings nurseries within the community and schools through wildlife and environment clubs.
Full Proposal Available Upon Request.