Environmental lobby group to plant 30 million trees to restore natural habitat of the Vervet monkey

An environmental lobby group in Nandi County has kicked off planting of indigenous trees along riparian lands to restore natural habitat of the endangered Vervet monkey.

Kiptapkei Environmental Community Based Organization is on a mission to plant 30 million indigenous and bamboo trees in the next five years to mitigate climate change effects and safeguard the wild animal.

With a theme, “Lets Save a shilling, pot a seedling, and grow a tree”, the group has so far planted over 70,000 tree seedlings along the riparian land since it was commissioned last year.

The group patron Joel Malakwen stated that Vervet monkey, intelligent and endearing, faces a myriad challenge in the modern world. As they adapt to a changing environment, they find themselves encroaching into human territories leading to conflicts.

“Our main focus is to safeguard the Vervet monkey which is losing its natural habitat to human farming. This group is culture driven to devise a sustainable solution to wildlife animals,” he said.

Malakwen noted that one of the pivotal initiatives of the Kiptapkei CBO revolves around the establishment of indigenous tree nurseries across all the six sub counties in the county.

He said the undertakings seeks to create a haven for the Vervet monkey and other wildlife while also combating deforestation and climate change.

“By growing trees and bamboo along riparian lands, our organization is crafting a thriving ecosystem that benefits both fauna and flora,” he said adding that they have established 51 active nurseries in the region.

Speaking at Kapsabet town, the patron stated that he started by propagating seedlings where 40,000 tubes were distributed to members.

The Kenya Forest Service chipped in and trained volunteers on collection of seeds, nursery management, transplanting and manure application.

“This is a collaborative effort between various stakeholders like tea factories, government bodies and environmental organizations who have the same vision of restoration. Through the programme, we have brought communities together and many people have been able to take care of their families and protect environment at the same time,” he said.

With eyes fixed on the horizon, the Self-help group envisions a future where native trees flourish around every water body in the County.

Jackline Koech, one of the group members said they were not only safeguarding the Vervet monkey but also revitalizing ecosystems and fostering a deeper connection between communities and their natural surroundings.

Koech called upon community leaders to be in the forefront in championing conservation saying wanton destruction of the environment is a major threat to food security.

“By planting the seeds of change, we become the custodians of our environment,” she said adding that the forest body has played a pivotal role in equipping members with the knowledge and skills needed for successful nursery management.

Environmental officers present urged locals to take up bamboo farming as the best alternative to eucalyptus to reduce deforestation, earn income from its products and protect water towers.

They said besides being environmentally friendly, bamboo has demand locally and internationally because of its value.

Nandi County government has also embarked on a plan to conserve and restore the wetlands under the banner of the ‘Enriched buffer zones programme’.

According to the County Chief Officer for Environment, Lands, Water and Climate change Jonah Tireito, through the programme, the communities would be introduced to bee- keeping practices, encouraged to plant indigenous and fruit trees for better health and to increase the forest cover. Additionally, they would learn how to integrate fodder within the wetlands, to support livestock feed.

“The vulnerable wetlands have been identified, and so far, the department has completed the survey and beaconing of Mutwot and Kapkong’ony wetlands. We are now on track to launch the wetlands management comprehensive plan outlining the management strategies and roles the communities will play. We urge the communities to commit themselves and appreciates the efforts put in for sustainability and protection of wetlands,” he said.

The move comes barely four months after President William Ruto launched a tree planting exercise in Makueni County to combat climate change.

The initiative, which aims to plant 15 billion trees by 2032, will work to reduce greenhouse emissions, stop and reverse deforestation and restore 5.1 million hectares of deforested and degraded landscape through the African Landscape Restoration Initiative.

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