Community groups in Dakatcha Woodland Important Bird Area in Kilifi County have taken the initiative to rehabilitate the forest through tree planting. In December last year, members of Faidika Group, a local community based organization (CBO), planted 1,000 tree seedlings at a designated site within the forest. The planting exercise was supervised by Daniel Mburu, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) forester in charge of Dakatcha Woodland. Also present was Nature Kenya’s Brian Wambua, the conservation officer for Dakatcha. The two offered advice on planting and management of tree seedlings.
Local community members have taken up conservation seriously and have formed groups to own commercial tree nurseries. Nature Kenya supports the tree nursery venture as an environment-friendly income generating activity as opposed to charcoal burning.
In Dakatcha, establishment of community-owned tree nurseries is crucial, since the groups formed double up as forest user groups that are mainly engaged in charcoal production. The charcoal business continues to pose a major threat to this important forest. Thus the tree nursery project, if well maintained and expanded, could greatly boost conservation of the forest.
The Faidika Group has started well and already sold 1,000 out of the 4,000 tree seedlings it has. The group intends to sell more seedlings to individual farmers in Dakatcha.
Building the capacity of community groups has been a key focus for Nature Kenya. To date, a number of groups have received training on how to establish, manage and sustain tree nurseries. The groups are also encouraged to plant some of their seedlings at their sites. In addition to training from Nature Kenya, the groups are supplied with seeds by the Kenya Forest Service.
So far the going has been good and the Kilifi County government has shown interest in supporting the rehabilitation programme. While on a visit to the area last year, Kilifi County Cabinet Secretary for water and environment, Kiringi Mwachitu, announced that the county government had set aside Ksh. 20 million for conservation. Mr. Mwachitu added that part of the funds would used to support community based conservation activities including the establishment of community tree nurseries in Dakatcha.
“Establishment of tree nursery projects among the forest user groups and community-based organizations in Dakatcha is very important as this will significantly contribute towards reducing degradation of the forest,” he said.
Noting that the establishment of community tree nurseries was one of the county’s major conservation targets, Mr. Mwachitu added that the Kilifi county government would work closely with all stakeholders engaged in conservation activities such as the Kenya Forest Service and Nature Kenya among others and the community at large in order to achieve conservation objectives.