We have permission (but no funding!) to plant 15,000 trees at the Upper Imenti Forest in the north-eastern part of Mt. Kenya in Meru County. We want to replace the invasive and destructive Lantana camara bush with a lush indigenous forest of seedlings and provide income for local community members through the project clearing and planting.
We need to keep the ball rolling.
MKT has been working in Lower Imenti since 2017 and so far, we have planted over 310,000 trees at the adjacent site. Upper Imenti and Lower Imenti were designated as protected areas chiefly because of their value as wet-season elephant habitat. However, in the late 20th century the sites suffered from excessive habitat degradation and encroachment (Gathaara et al. 1999). The area is now overrun by the invasive, exotic Lantana camara bush that prevents indigenous tree regrowth. This bush is thick and must be removed before seedlings can be planted.
Today they are surrounded by small-scale farmland and other human settlements. The area has become a hotspot of deforestation, human-elephant conflict and associated poaching incidents. We work alongside the local community to involve then in the planting, so this is a win-win for all, in the following ways:
The main social group that will benefit directly are the Community Forest Associations that border Mount Kenya National Reserve. The project brings welfare benefits to the local community for labour employment (clearing weeds, digging holes, planting trees and spot weeding). The Trust also employs one community member per site to monitor and protect the seedlings, in collaboration with Kenya Forest Service.
Women nursery groups receive payment for tree seedling purchase and seed collection. These groups are organised into micro-finance groups known as ‘table banking’. Individuals have been able to better their lives and families through this project. One group helped individuals to set up a shop, buy a pedigree cow or purchase a chaff cutter. This supports other socio-economic status by loaning out to the members.