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Use of Drone Technologies to Achieve 10% Tree Cover

As KEFRI continues to explore technologies to restore the 5.1 million hectares of degraded lands including grasslands, Senior Deputy Director for Research and Development, Dr. Jane Njuguna led KEFRI scientists in a demonstration of using drone in aerial seeding.

Drone Looking at a drone Drone 2

The event held at Sigona farm in Kiambu County, involved Drones Space Kenya in partnership with African Tree Researchers, Kenya Flying Labs, Seedballs Kenya and Media houses in demonstration of dispersal of seed balls of Yellow fever tree. The seed were procured from KEFRI and processed into seed balls by Seedballs Kenya Ltd.

According to Dr. Njuguna, calibration on the seeding rate is done before the drone set off. Seeding rate depends on species and expected results. This particular drone has a capacity of 7kg seeds. One flight lasts for 15 mins and covers 0.8 ha = in an hour it can cover 0.8 x 4= 3.2 ha. Assuming a working day, the drone can cover 16 ha within 5 hr compared to 25 man days during a conventional planting. This is very good performance, safe, cost efficient modern innovations and can reseed very difficult terrain including mangrove areas and other ecological restoration. Stakeholders can regreen/ restore degraded areas within a short time.

Co-operative Bank Makes a Donation Towards the Upcoming Commercial Forestry Investment Conference.

The Co-operative Bank of Kenya Ltd has donated Kenya shillings Five Hundred Thousand (Kes.500, 000) to support the upcoming Kenya Commercial Forestry Investment Conference and Expo scheduled from November 23rd to 26th, 2021 at KEFRI Headquarters, Muguga.

Woody + Project

Silvance Nono from Co-operative Bank of KEnya giving a cheque to KEFRI CEO, Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo towards the Conference.

The Head of Government & Public Sector Banking and Relationship Bank Manager Mr. Silvance Nono, together with Mr. Wesley Rotich donated the cheque to Director KEFRI Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo during a courtesy call to KEFRI headquarters on 3rd November, 2021.

The Director in his welcoming remarks informed the Bank Managers that forestry industry is a potential venture that can generate a lot of revenue in this country, if it is fully explored. “On behalf of KEFRI and the Conference organizing committee, I do appreciate the support the Co-operative Bank has given and encourage other financiers and partnering organizations to register and support the Conference,” said the Director. .

The Conference is a platform for business case study where different sector players including financiers and investors will share information and technologies to enable better understanding of commercial forestry, its value chain and areas of interest worth investing in. “Tree growing is currently a potential business venture, for both private and public partnership, as the country is moving towards attaining ten percent tree cover by 2022,” further said Dr. Cheboiwo. .

The Conference and Expo Theme is “Commercial Forestry Investment for Wealth Creation, Enhancing Manufacturing, Food security, Health and Attainment of 10% Tree Cover in Kenya”. “The Cooperative Bank has applied for accreditation to partner with Institutions dealing with environment and climate change initiatives and that the reason we have responded to the call to support the Conference,” said Mr. Nono. The Conference and Expo is an opportunity for stakeholders in the commercial forestry sector to showcase and exhibit commercial forestry technologies and an opportunity for investors to tap into. The forum will bring together professionals, researchers, wood processors, investors, and other key players in forestry. The Conference will be both physical and virtual. .

KEFRI's CHERP Regional Director Dr. Eston Mutitu and Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Mr. Patrick Kariuki Preside Over Tree Planting Activity in Nyandarua County.

KEFRI's CHERP Regional Director Dr. Eston Mutitu together with Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Mr. Patrick Kariuki on Sunday, 31st October 2021, led freedom fighters and other community members in planting 25,000 assorted indigenous tree seedlings to conserve Sasumua dam watershed in Njabini, Nyandarua County.

Dr. Mutitu leading community in planting tree saplings at Sasumua watershed

Dr. Mutitu leading community in planting tree saplings at Sasumua watershed

Sasumua reservoir sits on Sasumua River but also receives water from Kibiru and Chania rivers. The dam was first constructed in 1955 and second phase in 1968. It has a capacity of 15.9 million cubic metres, and supplies the city of Nairobi with 15–20% of its water (or about 64,000 m3 per day). The reservoir’s catchment covers approximately 107 km2, lying partly inside a forest reserve and partly in cultivated areas. An area of 55 ha of this, owned by Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NCWSC), has been planted with grass and trees to act as a buffer zone around the reservoir. However, uncontrolled grazing and trampling by animals in the sloppy areas has caused increased surface runoff and soil erosion resulting in dam siltation and thus low water quality. Due to the nearness of the farmlands and the reservoir is threatened by sediment, nutrients and other pollutants.

Dr. Eston Mutitu (mid of flags) with Mau Mau freedom fighters/veterans during the tree planting and presentation of the gift to Mrs Mukami Kimathi, in marking the 101 Dedan Kimathi birthday.

Dr. Eston Mutitu (mid of flags) with Mau Mau freedom fighters/veterans during the tree planting and presentation of the gift to Mrs Mukami Kimathi, in marking the 101 Dedan Kimathi birthday.

KEFRI has been on the ground studying the problem, and donated 1,000 assorted indigenous tree seedlings that were planted to not only conserve the watershed but commemorate the 101 birthday of freedom fighter Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi. Representative from Dedan Kimathi Foundation, freedom fighters, KFS, Equity Bank, Eco-planet, Nairobi Water, local administrators and County officials, Greens of Africa Foundation, ENSDA, WASREB and Cooper Kenya Limited also participated in this important environmental conservation event. Dr. Mutitu and Mr. Kariuki later presented a goat, on behalf of Tharaka Nithi Mau Mau elders, to the elderly Mukami Kimathi, a freedom fighter and widow of Field Marshal Dedan Kimathi signifying a 101 birthday cake.

Dr. Chris K. Kiptoo, PS. Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo, CEO KEFRI Preside Over Woody Weeds + Project Launch.

Woody Weeds + Project to Support Kenya’s National Prosopis Strategy

A new Swiss-Kenyan Woody Weeds + project has been launched to support a National Prosopis Strategy for Kenya which is aimed at the sustainable management of the invasive weed Prosopis juliflora – considered one of the world’s most threatening non-native tree species. The three-year project builds upon the previous Swiss-funded Woody Weeds project which assessed the effects of prosopis on the environment and rural livelihoods in Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania as well as ways to manage it. Woody Weeds +, was launched in the presence of representatives from six implementing partners by Dr Chris K. Kiptoo, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, and Dr Joshua Cheboiwo, Director General of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). The project will strengthen livelihood security and environmental integrity in areas affected by prosopis by supporting the delivery of the National Prosopis Strategy in pilot counties in Kenya.

Woody + Project

Invasion of Prosopis juliflora along a river near Lake Bogoria, Kenya (Credit: Urs Schaffner, CABI).

Prosopis was introduced to Eastern Africa in the 1970s to provide wood and fodder and reduce erosion on degraded land. However, soon after its introduction, it started spreading rapidly with severe impacts including loss of grazing land, loss of access to water, declining biodiversity, reduced human health, increased human-wildlife and human-human conflicts. In Ethiopia’s Afar region, prosopis invaded 1.2 million hectares of land since its introduction in 1990. It is estimated that more than half of the annual rainfall in this area is used up by this weed that consumes 1-36 litres of water per tree per day.

The Woody Weeds + project will implement the newly established NPS, jointly with relevant stakeholders, in a target area stretching from West to East along the southern edge of Kenya’s northern rangelands, targeting areas in Baringo, Isiolo and Tana River counties. Additionally, stakeholders from the neighbouring counties of West Pokot, Laikipia and Meru will participate through meetings and awareness raising campaigns.

Four main outcomes will be achieved including the establishment of a governance system and institutional arrangements linking actors across different decision-making levels. In addition, the project will identify innovative financing mechanisms such as impact investment, to secure the long-term sustainability of prosopis management.

Dr Chris K. Kiptoo, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said, “Land degradation caused by human activities is one of today’s greatest challenges to sustainable development. It undermines the well-being of over 40% of the human population, driving species extinctions and intensifying climate change. It is also a major contributor to human mass migration and conflicts over resource use.” Currently Prosopis invasion cover about 2 million hectares of Kenya mostly in temporary and permanent wetlands in ASALs in 22 counties an extremely large areas of fragile and very productive ecosystems that are now threatened. The communities livelihoods are highly affected due to its wiping of grass, forage species and biodiversity resources. The communities affected have little or no knowledge of its management and control options and worse financial to curb its effects and spread.

Dr Cheboiwo said that “It is gratifying to note that development of the NPS benefitted greatly from the scientific results of the project, Kenya’s vision 2030 and other national pillars that define sustainable management and integrity in resource use. We are confident that the application of scientific knowledge and innovation that has informed the development of the NPS will help to contain the competitive edge of Prosopis over other vegetation.” The Woody Weeds + will also see the creation of an app that will help the dissemination of information, awareness raising and decision support within and beyond the target area. Dr Cheboiwo added that the NPS will gradually reach 22 counties in Kenya with technologies and approaches tried and tested in the three lead counties of Baringo, Isiolo and Tana River.

Dr Morris Akiri, Senior Regional Director at CABI in Africa, said, “Sustainable management of invasive alien trees like prosopis requires an integrated management approach that combines physical, chemical and biological control measures and that aims to manage the invasive tree not only at the level of individual households but also at the landscape level.” “We are delighted to be part of this consortium that is linking key actors in the fight against invasive alien species. This project adds to a long history of CABI working with partners to enhance economic growth, improve food security and overall protection of biodiversity in Kenya, helping millions of livelihoods.”

Dr Urs Schaffner, CABI in Switzerland, and Dr Albrecht Ehrensperger, Head of the Sustainable Land Systems Impact Area at the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, who jointly coordinate the project, added that “We are grateful for the support of the project donors, partners, and particularly the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in taking this very significant work to monitor, manage and mitigate prosopis further.”

Woody Weeds + Consortium

The Woody Weeds + project is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Additionally, several consortium partners are providing substantial in-kind contributions to support the project’ implementation. The consortium includes six partners who cover relevant fields for the implementation of the project: CABI Switzerland and CABI Kenya have long-term expertise in developing and implementing national and subnational Invasive Alien Species (IAS) management strategies. CDE and the Centre for Training and integrated Research in ASAL Development (CETRAD) in Nanyuki, Kenya, are leaders in the development and implementation of sustainable land management (SLM) practices. KEFRI is the national authority for Prosopis management in Kenya and will lead the implementation of the NPS and coordinate activities among counties. The University of Nairobi will bring in its experiences from cooperation with community-based organizations in rangeland and wildlife conservation. Farmbetter Ltd, the private sector partner of the Woody Weeds + project, will contribute an app to boost information dissemination, awareness raising and decision support within and beyond the target area. Key external partners include Baringo, Isiolo and Tana River county governments, Kenya Forestry Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Nature Kenya, Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) and various community based organisations and natural resource management organisations.

For more information on the Woody Weeds project see the website at: www.woodyweeds.org/

KEFRI SDDR&D Presides Over Model Fruity Schools Africa Launch.

KEFRI Senior Deputy Director Research and Development Dr. Jane Njuguna on behalf of the CS Environment and Forestry presided over the launch of Model Fruity Schools project in Kenya which took place at Nairobi River Primary School on 19th June, 2021.

The Fruity Schools Africa is a project that aims to use the spaces in over 35,000 public schools that are currently underutilized by planting and caring for over 1,000,000 fruit trees. Children are by nature competitive, inquisitive and innovative. The project seeks to harness this great resource and engage them in forums that will build social skills, pass across life- long education on nutrition, environmental conservation and work ethic.

Model Fruity Schools Banner with Sponsors

Model Fruity Schools Banner with Sponsors

Mr. Kennedy Odoyo, Team Leader Fruity Schools Africa, thanked all stakeholders for making the project a success. “This project seeks to achieve two things; first to contribute towards the Government’s objective of achieving 10% tree cover by 2022 and secondly educate children from an early age the importance of environmental conservation,” he said.

In a statement read on his behalf, Dr. Julius Jwan PS Ministry of Education, pledged the Ministries support towards the project. He stated that the launch was just the beginning and the project will soon spread throughout the country. 237 primary schools in Nairobi are targeted to receive 41 grafted seedlings each.

Dr. Jane Njuguna delivered CS Tobikos remarks stating that the Ministry of Environment is keen to see the inclusion of schools in achieving improved tree cover in the country. She pointed out that KEFRI is ready to provide whatever expertise necessary especially for species site matching and value addition in the form of jams and juices.

Dr Jane Njuguna and the KEFRI team demonstrating how to document tree planting using the KEFRIApp

Dr Jane Njuguna and the KEFRI team demonstrating how to document tree planting using the KEFRIApp

The event provided an opportunity for the KEFRI team to demonstrate the use of the recently launched KEFRIApp in recording the number of trees planted. 200 grafted avocadoes and 100 strawberry guavas were planted during the launch.

Ecosystem Restoration with the slogan Reimagine-Recreate-Restore.

The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko led Kenyans in marking World Environment Day at Garissa University, Garissa County. The theme for this year’s celebrations was Ecosystem Restoration with the slogan Reimagine-Recreate-Restore.

CS Keriako Tobiko with CAS Mercy Mwangangi during tree planting at Garissa University

CS Keriako Tobiko with CAS Mercy Mwangangi during tree planting at Garissa University

The CS kicked off the celebrations by unveiling recycle bins that were donated to the University by Petco Ltd. The bins were donated in a bid to educate students on the importance of segregation and proper disposal of waste. Petco assured the CS that the company would undertake collection of the waste and ensure that recycling is done.

Hon. Mohamed Hire, MP for Lagdera in his remarks pointed out that Garissa County has immense environmental potential which has been ignored and underutilized. He pointed out that the residents needed to appreciate that there are other economic activities they can occupy themselves with apart from charcoal burning and animal grazing. He urged the constituents to embrace environmental conservation and preservation activities.

PS Chris Kiptoo stated that as much as the country has achieved 80% success on the ban on plastics, 20% is the responsibility of citizens who need to embrace and enforce the ban. “The government can make declarations and pass bills, but the onus is on each and every one of us to embrace and enforce these rules. The government cannot police everyone,” he said.

He further reported that a policy is in the pipeline which seeks to encourage a paradigm shift from a linear to circular model in order for the public to view waste as wealth. The PS also pointed out that KEFRI has been supported to increase seed centers from 6 to 18 around the country with a view of producing 200 metric tonnes of seeds per year. Garissa is earmarked to receive 42.5 metric tonnes.

Speaking during the celebrations, CS Keriako Tobiko announced that the celebrations also marked the launch of the UN Decade on Eco-System Restoration 2021-2030. The program is designed as a global movement that can end poverty, hunger, malnutrition, gender inequality and the degradation of ecosystems by harnessing the power of nature and local communities.

The CS explained that Garissa University was chosen as the venue for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations in order to show the world that Kenyans are resilient despite the attack that took place at the University in 2015 where 148 students lost their lives. 1000 trees were planted next to the hostel in which the attack occurred in commemoration of the departed souls.

Dr. Jane Njuguna, Senior Deputy Director Research and Development KEFRI and staff from KEFRI Kitui and Garissa centres joined the Ministry in marking the event which included cleanup activities and tree planting in primary and secondary schools.

Recycling bins unveiled at Garissa University during World Environment Day celebrations

Recycling bins unveiled at Garissa University during World Environment Day celebrations