Plants for Life manages Brackenhurst Botanic garden which holds the largest number (>1350) of indigenous plant species in an in situ & ex situ collection in one area in any collection in East Africa. The project has gone from strength to strength in reforesting and restoring 40 hectares of degraded land from non native plantation to a thriving forest ecosystem that supports mammal, bird and diverse plant life.
The project addresses the following issues.
- Loss of indigenous plant and animal biodiversity in upland Kenya
- Loss of local knowledge on indigenous and medicinal plants
- Environmental education
- Carbon sequestration using indigenous forest rather than exotic tree species
- Domestication, cultivation and harvesting of medicinal plants
- Watershed protection and soil OM and fertility restoration
- Collection of rare, threatened, vulnerable and endangered plant species (especially lianes, lianas, climbers, ferns and orchids) from forest and upland biomes under threat.
However... the project which has a long term development strategy needs help now with building on its programmes developing research and education for the future. I aim to undertake a three month internship with Plants for Life to assist this courageous local NGO to develop their taxonomic database, propagate indigenous trees for conservation and support outreach through education walks and talks.
Why should you help?
- East Africa is a microcosm of the enormous challenges we face to balance economic development needs with the increasing loss of habitat due to global climate change and deforestation. Plants for Life is taking a bold step to grasp this challenge at a local level by restoring and protecting indigenous, viable forest from certain permanent loss. You can be part of this action. Donating is conserving.
- During the past two decades 150,000 acres (30%) of the Mau forest complex in Central Kenya has been cleared, displacing people and destroying indigenous forest. Your donation will help Plants for Life grow and help to turn this situation around.
- I am a young, recent graduate, passionate in the fight to preserve our natural heritage and the important role tropical forests have in the global ecosystem. Through my botanical field work in Laos and in Scotland, I have seen first hand the effects of climate and deforestation, and am certain that local initiatives are necessary to complement the work at global level.
- I am a graduate of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the recipient of a distinction in Field botany award, The RBGE award and the SRUC Trust award. My research so far, has led to discoveries new to science, and positive conservation efforts.
- A tree will be planted in your honour if you donate £20 or more... That tree will be a vital addition to the forest.
- You will be supporting a young person in making direct change in the world, along with many others who are dedicating their lives in rural Kenya, to protect biodiversity.
- I have the determination, knowledge and spirit to see this project through!
During my time with Plants for Life I hope to make a real difference to their work through taking on areas that their funding has not been able to reach. I also know that through this experience I will be able to grow as a botanist and gain valuable skills in active conservation. I will be able to learn from the staff at the garden whilst also sharing my own knowledge.
- Build and maintain a full list of accessions including all supporting data for the specimens within the garden.
- Propagation of tree species within the nursery.
- Develop and undertake tree walks and bird walks as well as plant ID training involving taxonomy and nomenclature.
- Inspire more young people to be involved in botany and conservation.
Currently Plants for Life depends entirely on funds from grants. The NGO receives no support from the Kenyan national government or private or corporate partners within Kenya. Much of the administration and development work is undertaken by Plants for Life’s CEO. However they have gained international recognition for their work. They are a member of BGCI (Botanic gardens conservation international) and have contributed to the Global Botanic Garden Congress and conferences on ecological restoration in the US. They are supported by the Rufford Foundation and Missouri Botanic Garden.
I believe that through this internship I can make a great contribution to the work of Plants for Life and the conservation of indigenous East African biodiversity. I also believe that through this project I can inspire other young people to follow their ambitions to protect our planets biodiversity.
Some links to the work of Plants for Life so far.