The Forest and Landscape Restoration Mechanism

Mount Kulal forest and landscape restoration campaign and launch of tree planting

Year published: 19/03/2021

In pursuit of the objectives of The Restoration Initiative (TRI) project “Restoration of arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya”, a landscape restoration campaign was undertaken at Mount Kulal, culminating in large-scale tree planting on 6 November 2020. The project is funded by the Global Environment Facility, implemented by FAO and executed by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI). Its aim is to restore deforested and degraded lands through the forest and landscape restoration (FLR) approach and to enhance the socio-economic development of local communities. This will be achieved through the development of bio-enterprises of non-timber forest products and services in ASALs, with the goal of reducing the overall proportion of degraded land by 20 percent in the areas covered by the project. This is expected to contribute to the 10 percent tree cover agenda by 2022.  

The Mount Kulal forest, the landscape targeted by tree planting, is located within the Mount Kulal Biosphere Reserve, of which it forms the core. The mountain and its surroundings harbour unique and varied ecosystems, encompassing rich faunal, floral and cultural biodiversity.  

The forest provides many resources to communities living on the mountain and the surrounding lowlands. For example, the forest is an important source of water for all the villages around the mountain and provides a wealth of other ecosystem goods and services, such as building materials, fuelwood and medicine. During the dry season, the forest also provides available grazing areas for pastoralists from both local and surrounding communities.

The local communities (Wazee Wa Mazingara) used local knowledge to identify the sites for planting, which were confirmed to be suitable by an expert technical team comprised of the national project coordinator and the technical assistant, as well as representatives from KEFRI, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and the Marsabit County Government, in consultation with the National Museums of Kenya (NMK). Appropriate local seedlings were sourced and documented by KEFRI, with the support of KFS and local communities to ensure their suitability and to promote genetic diversity as well.

More than 100 people from a wide range of stakeholders took part in the planting efforts and 600 fruit tree seedlings were distributed amongst local communities to provide enhanced economic benefits. The activity was planned and executed by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, FAO, KEFRI, KFS, NMK, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the Marsabit County Government, local community leaders, the Lake Turkana Wind Power Company and designated community resource persons (trained by the project on nursery establishment and management).

The restoration campaign was successful and 7 631 indigenous trees (including 600 fruit trees) were planted on seven hectares within the Mount Kulal forest ecosystem. Out of these, 4 683 seedlings were planted in degraded areas of the forest (4.7 hectares).  This short-rains tree-planting initiative will be essential for contributing to the national 10 percent forest cover strategy. The communities were enthusiastic about tree planting, which highlights how, with continuous encouragement and support, it will be possible to restore the ecosystem to its original state. As a follow-up action, the project is supporting local communities to raise 50 000 seedlings annually in community nurseries. Local communities will be also responsible for monitoring the planted sites to ensure a high survival rate.

For more information contact us at: [email protected].

Benjamin De Ridder (FAO)