BOOST FOR TSAVO ECOSYSTEM AS HERITAGE FOUNDATION PLANS TO PLANT 40 MILLION TREES
(Posted 20th June 2017)
While the folly to run a railway line through the already fragile Nairobi National Park continues unabated has in contrast the Tsavo Heritage Foundation just announced plans to help restore some of the drought riddled Tsavo Ecosystem Dispersal Area, in short TEDA by planting as many as 40 million trees.
· The Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks together comprise Africa’s largest wilderness reserve and hold one third of Kenya’s total elephant population.
· In 2011 Tsavo East National park received 260,000 local and international visitors and by 2015 this number had dropped to a shocking 75,200. Tsavo West had a similar trajectory, receiving 98,900 visitors in 2011 and just 32,900 by 2015
· The pilot phase starts this year and will begin with four counties of Nairobi, Makueni, Taita Taveta, and Mombasa with the rest of the counties joining the project in 2018.
TEDA covers 12 countries including Nairobi, Kajiado, Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, Taita Taveta, Tana River, Garissa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and Mombasa.
The pilot phase starts this year and will begin with the four counties of Nairobi, Makueni, Taita Taveta, and Mombasa with the rest of the counties joining the project in 2018.
Tsavo Heritage Foundation Founder & Chief Executive Chairman Jacob Kipongoso, said the ecological biodiversity, cultural and historical heritage of these counties are under threat from adverse effects of unsustainable land use, environmental degradation, inappropriate management of natural resources and the effects of climate change.
‘These threats have manifested themselves in form of recurrent droughts which has affected the supply of water to the cities in Tsavo ecosystem including Mombasa and Nairobi. Additionally, some areas experience flash floods when it rains due to lack of proper vegetation cover, deforestation. Loss of land fertility has also resulted into dwindling capacity for food production in the affected areas‘ Mr. Kipongoso said.
TEDA lies on one of the main North-South migration routes for birds and animals which collectively form a unique biodiversity feature in the world.
The Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks which, together, comprise Africa’s largest wilderness reserve and holds one third of Kenya’s total elephant population.
‘In addition to the impact on visitor numbers, there have also been increased human-wildlife conflict as locals invade the parks to look for water and pasture for their livestock as most parts of the ecosystem are affected by drought and drying water systems. The invasion of the parks has increased compensation rates which KWS pays to the affected families. Water scarcity is a more imminent threat to wildlife especially the Elephants that need a lot of water daily for sustainability and work must be urgently done to get water systems rehabilitated and conserved for the sustenance of this critical ecosystem’ he continued.
Tsavo Climate Challenge
Mr. Kipongoso said the loss of forest cover, reduced river flow and the effects of climate change had led to systematic desertification of two Parks, with devastating economic effects to the communities living within Tsavo ecosystem.
“To mitigate these problems Tsavo Heritage Foundation plans is initiating a massive tree growing competition dubbed The Tsavo Climate Challenge, since landscapes rehabilitation is the only realistic chance TEDA has to rehabilitate and conserve its biodiversity. We will assist each county to plant at least 1 million trees each year for the next three year and adding to the 4 million we expect to plant with the 4 pilot counties this year, we expect to reach 40 million trees by end of the year 2020 and this will be achieved cost effectively. Our estimation shows that it costs about Ksh10, 000 to grow and nurture tree in one year within the city Nairobi for one year. Tsavo Heritage has developed a model that brings this cost down to as little as Kshs 250‘ he added.
He said the foundation would be working with the local communities, special interest groups and institutions including CBOs and learning institution.
‘We want to work with the local communities and institutions because we want the locals to own the initiate as we move from just planting trees to growing and nurturing them, which takes longer, and the communities are in a better position to tend to the trees until they are mature enough to survive on their own‘.
He said the efforts of the communities will be recognized by way of various incentives including cash awards in line with rates approved by Tsavo Heritage Foundation, adding that the incentives will be based on participation, reward of effort, recognition of proportionality and concern for fairness to create a win-win situation.
The Tsavo Climate Challenge will be launched on June 28th by the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resource Prof. Judi Wakhungu and graced by the world’s renowned ecologist, Prof. John D. Liu.
The Foundation has also lined up some activities to support the Climate Challenge initiative including a marathon dubbed Tsavo Run which will allow for participation by individuals and corporate organisations; a special conference on climate change; and a cultural and award ceremony event dubbed The Beats of Tsavo to celebrate Tsavo while awarding and recognise leaders in its conservation and rehabilitation.
‘This is a huge task which requires a lot of resource- monetary and otherwise. At the launch we will be appealing to corporate organisations to support the initiative through cash donations and also to be part of the Tsavo Run, the conference and cultural event‘ Kipongoso said.
TEDA incorporates vast savannahs, plains, hills and water towers such as Chyulu, Taita Hills, the Yatta Plateau, Shimba Hills in Kwale and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania from which extensive rivers and water systems emanate including the volcanic Mzima Springs, Lugard’s Falls, Tana, Athi-Galana-Sabaki and Voi Rivers; in addition to unique water bodies such as Lakes Jipe and Chala and even the Indian Ocean – the final destination of water from all these rivers and water bodies.