Restoring the Watershed of Mount Kenya with The International Tree Foundation
This is another of those projects where a small group of people have chosen to think big. International Tree Foundation have never planned one project of such scale before, but with the largest water tower in very deforested Kenya suffering serious soil erosion and barely able to provide the underground water needed to serve its ever growing agricultural and urban population, it's time to act and fast. 20 Million trees are needed, so we are right behind them.
In very populous areas, agro-forestry is the ideal solution for both stabilizing soil and restoring water tables whilst providing economic security for farmers who become dependent and thus protective of their trees. Having one's own woodland provides farmers with the resources that they would usually plunder the forest for - thus this technique is a form of reforestation and avoided deforestation in one.
Life skills and education that preserve ecology
Through ITF, we are supporting farmers to be educated in agro-forestry techniques such as alley cropping, contour planting, boundary planting, forest gardens, fodder plots, woodlots, live fences, windbreaks and also sustainable agriculture practices including kitchen gardens, composting, use of green manure and nitrogen fixing species to reduce reliance on inorganic fertilizers.
Focusing on the Women
Women play the major role in managing the tree nurseries and planting out the trees, and the project is especially designed to meet the needs of women. Most households still obtain most of the fuel wood and often most of the livestock fodder they need from the forest. Women and children frequently shoulder this burden, walking to the forest several times a week and carrying heavy loads back to the farm. By enhancing agroforestry on farms the project reduces that burden. Women and children benefit from improved food security and nutrition through the agroforestry component. In a recent household survey, all women interviewed wanted to increase tree planting on their farms to meet these needs.
Another reason why we chose to partner with ITF is because the project focuses on the participation of women's groups. They support women with seeds, tools, and equipment to run small tree nurseries aimed at improving income generating activities. They also start female empowerment groups and capacity building, and train women on new business development skills and forest friendly income generating activities like bee keeping aimed at conservation of the forest and creation of stable income streams.