Every time I am passed by a motorbike bursting from the sides with illegal charcoal, my heart bleeds. It bleeds for those Acacias that had once stood tall and provided shade for 30 odd years before they fell prey to the logger. I think about the birds that now have no home and the kids who once had a tree to sit under as they played or read. I constantly wake up feeling like I am not doing enough and my heart breaks for the treeless generations to come.
But to fight my despair, I have begun to dream about what WE can collectively do for our beloved country, and the generations to come. I feel hope creep in as I think about how we could create a sustainable forestry industry in this country that feeds our fuel and timber needs while restoring and regenerating our environment.
- Most of our active farming land has been converted to growing eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus trees are invasive and do not allow for agroforestry or syntropic agroforestry. In Western Kenya ( some of the country’s fertile areas) they have planted it all the way to the river banks and now little to no farming is done there.
- The balance of restorative forestry and timber needs is a huge concern in Kenya. Currently we cannot meet the demand for timber and rely on imports from TZ and The Congo. Farmers choose to cut down the trees on their land for charcoal, building, and cooking needs within in their communities.
- Counties in Kenya close to the forests rely heavily on the forests for subsistence such as grazing of cattle, goats/sheep. Slowly by slowly the country’s forests and water towers get deforested and reduce.
Between 1980 and 2000, Kenya lost nearly 50% of its forest cover. Some 300,000 hectares of forest were destroyed due to intensive logging, charcoal production and large-scale clearance of wooded areas for tea plantations.
What is Sustainable Forestry?
Simply put, sustainable forestry is a way of managing forests that is susatinable and considers the following 3 key factors:
Ecological – This kind of forestry purposes to protect species and increase biodiversity. It works to improve soils and protect wildlife habitats, ulimately mitigating the harsh effects of climate change.
Economic – Forestry that benefits stakeholders like farmers economically by promoting the growth of timber friendly trees in sustainable ways. It can also include syntropic agroforestry that allows for the growth of trees WHILE food farming. Sustainable forestry also ensures the replanting of forests after harvesting.
Social – Forestry that positively influences communities that live near the forests by sustaining their livelihoods through gainful employment. It also heavily supports a healthy and nuturing enviroment for communities.
How Can You & I take part in This?
- If you have a large tract of land, section an area and commit it to tree farming – plant a mix of indegenous and timber friendly trees
- If you have a small piece of farm land, begin to incorporate trees into your farm. You can start with fruit trees and add in some indigenous trees as well .
- Do not cut down a tree unless you have to! Encourgae others around you to do the same. If you must cut a tree, plant atleast 2 more in return
- Avoid using charcoal – go for gas, koko fuel etc instead. it will play a part in saving our precious trees
Together, we can ensure that there will never be a treeless generation to come.