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Apr 28, 2015 4 Min Read

Inspiring Sustainable Forest Rehabilitation

Merely planting trees does not get to the root of the problem of ongoing, unsustainable deforestation. Forest conservation must take into account the agents and drivers of deforestation. Kijani conducted a baseline survey of in September, 2014 to determine who the agents of deforestation are in North Marmanet. We discovered that at the root of this activity exists the unassailable reality of poverty.

Our survey revealed that most households subsist on less than $200 per month, while only 14% of community members have received an education past the primary school level. Additionally, most respondents cited unemployment as the major challenge facing youth in the community.

With less than 10% tree cover today, the Marmanet forest is highly degraded. This image shows part of the 100 hectare rehabilitation area under management by Kijani.

Unemployment is the catalyst that drives people to cut trees, albeit illegally, for the little source of income it can provide. This is complemented by ignorance about the ecological services of the forest. Long-term benefits of sound environmental management are compromised for short-term gain.

Sustainable forest conservation is a holistic venture, taking into account the whole human being and his socio-economic reality. Without this necessary outlook our few trees in the ground will only support the cycle of endemic poverty.

Working hand-in-hand with the local community is key to success. This is an image from a community forum in Marmanet led by our team.

To move toward a sustainable future, we must learn how to realize the value of a healthy environment in an ecological and economic sense. Kijani’s approach to forestation is to not only plant trees, but to enable communities around the forest to learn how the forest can sustain their livelihood. The community must understand the short-term benefit of non-timber forest products, such as medicines, or even fruit.

Kijani will introduce sustainable IGA’s (Income Generating Activities) which in turn will empower the community. We hope to introduce such IGAs in the small villages of North Marmanet, such as Naserian, Kaichakun, Majimbogo, Kwanjiku among others. We will also work to strengthen the activities of the North Marmanet CFA (Community Forest Association), a critical liaison to the surrounding community.

David learns from Mary Gatei, TIST's (The International Small Group Tree Planting Program) field representative in our area, about TIST's approach to rehabilitation

Forest rehabilitation is not easy. We are learning from the failures of other organizations as we build a stronger model as Kijani. Together with our supporters, partners and the local community, we are tackling this challenge holistically, recognizing that forests and humans are part of the same ecosystem that must co-exist.

Households struggle to put food on the table, and by finding sustainable ways to do just that, we are laying the foundation for the sustainable future for our forests.

What do you think are the main drivers of deforestation?


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  1. Wow! This is a great article, explaining our vision for reforestation. Thanks David.

    Tobias Lohse
    • Tobias Lohse
    • Apr 29, 2015
    • Reply