Published On: Sat, Dec 26th, 2020

Kenyan farmers and young guides enlisted to protect city forests

KARINDE, Kenya, Nov 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Peter Wainana remembers when the forest near his home outside Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, was so thick with trees and vegetation it was difficult to walk through.

Today, Thogoto forest, on Nairobi’s northwest edge, is dotted with open spaces that locals and environmentalists say have been illegally cleared of trees by loggers and property developers, Wainana said.

The destruction motivated the 49-year-old to join with a dozen other farmers from Karinde village to protect Thogoto’s trees through projects such as bamboo farming and beekeeping.

“Everybody wants a piece of this forest because it is near the capital city. Rich people are trying to steal its land, traders are taking (its) timber, even manufacturing companies are dumping toxic waste here,” said the father of three.

Across Nairobi, community groups are working to stop encroachers from destroying the forests around the city, as conservationists allege that much of the activity is due to illegal deals between developers and local politicians.

Asked about the corruption allegations at a media briefing in November, Alfred Gichu, national coordinator for REDD+, the U.N.-backed conservation scheme, acknowledged that unlawful encroachment was rife in the country’s forests.

The problem, he said, is driven by the government’s inability to meet Kenya’s annual demand for 45 million cubic metres of wood, with the state falling short by about 15 million cubic metres each year.

Violet Matiru, a conservationist with Millennium Community Development Initiatives (MCDI), a local environment charity, said grassroots projects had become necessary to protect Nairobi’s forests.

reuters

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Kenyan farmers and young guides enlisted to protect city forests
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