Professor Wangari Maathai – the first African women to be awarded a Nobel Prize
The rapid growth in population is one of the main causes of – poverty, deforestation and environmental degradation.
- Millions of people in East Africa depend on streams and rivers for their water needs, but as forests are cut down, water flow becomes erratic and, in many cases, ceases altogether. When it does rain, the lack of vegetation cover leads to flash flooding and serious soil erosion.
- The impact of deforestation on wildlife and biodiversity has been devastating. The forest is home to countless forms of wildlife: no forest, no wildlife.
- According to the Kenya Forestry Service, forest cover was 6% in 2013, lower than the 10% forest cover required by the Kenya constitution.
- In 2013 the Forestry and Wildlife Minister urged Kenyans to plant 10% of their farms with trees.
- Families in East Africa are spending increasing amounts of time and money collecting or paying for wood for fuel and construction.
- The climate is changing. Average temperatures are rising and extreme weather events – particularly floods and droughts – cause havoc with long-established patterns of cultivation.
CHASE Africa’s main focus is to address the effects of environmental degradation across East Africa with a programme of forest restoration in national parks and tree planting in schools and villages.
Forest restoration in national parks
CHASE Africa has been working with the Mount Kenya Trust to reforest cleared areas in the national park. We have completed a pioneering project at Irangi on the East side of Mount Kenya where 10 hectares which were cleared by illegal logging, have been replanted with over 70 different species. We are planning to replicate this elsewhere on Mount Kenya.
Some of the trees are grown by women’s groups who get paid for the seedlings and the rarer trees are supplied by Plants for life International (PLI). By planting such a wide variety of trees this is helping to rebuild a complex bio-diversity.
Since completing the Irangi project, we have started a project that will see 250 ha being reforested at Kangaita on the West side of Mount Kenya. Kangaita has an important role as a water source for downstream communities, for which healthy forest is vital.
We are currently looking at a pilot project in Uganda on the slopes of Mount Elgon, and starting a forest restoration project at Kakamega in western Kenya. The Kakamega region is densely populated and pressure on the forest resources is considerable. The forest is famous for its incredible bird life with 367 species recorded to date with 9 birds unique to Kakamega. The range of trees is exceptional with 380 species recorded and for butterfly lovers it is a must-see location with over 400 species.
Trees for schools
Schools in Kenya are often situated on sizable plots of land of between 5 to 30 acres. We have funded the planting of trees on unused ground in plots of between ½ and 1 acre at over 90 schools in Nakuru District. This planting includes both wood lots (fast growing trees to be harvested for fuel and timber taking pressure off the indigenous forest) and indigenous trees which will remain to maturity. This project allows the teachers to engage the children in a practical activity whilst at the same time teaching them about all the environmental benefits tree planting can bring. For some teachers this will lead on to discussion of other issues such as how trees can help mitigate the effects of climate change.
In 2016, 15 schools that we had funded had trees which were mature enough to harvest. Some trees were sold to be used as electricity supply poles, some were sold for construction and some as firewood. Interestingly it was the schools which sold their timber as firewood who made the most income. The total income was over £35,000. Two schools chose to have the trees milled into the appropriate building sizes and used this to construct two new classrooms each. So trees planted and tended by children had provided new classrooms for a new generation to learn in as well as taking some pressure of the indigenous forest
The traditional three-stone fire is a very inefficient way to cook food. We have distributed thousands of fuel-efficient stoves which reduces the pressure on the indigenous forest.
The benefits of our cookstoves include:
- Use 40% to 50% less wood.
- Reduce the risk of children falling into an open fire.
- Reduce the amount of smoke, bringing health benefits.
- Less money spent on firewood.
- Reduce the amount of time used to collect firewood.