The Schools Green Initiative Challenge impressed participants attending a two-day workshop on dry-land agroforestry organized by the Foundation’s project partner Better Globe Forestry at the University of Nairobi Kabete campus on 24 – 25 August.
Representatives from the University of Ghent (Belgium), University of Nairobi, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, International Center for Research in Agroforestry/ World Agroforestry Centre, Nature Conservancy, Better Globe Forestry, and Kenya Forest Service among others, had convened to discuss the challenges and benefits of cultivating Melia volkensii, the tree species used in the Schools Green Initiative Challenge (GIC), for farmers living in semi-arid regions.
In their presentation, the Foundation’s Senior Programs Officer Anthony Igecha and KenGen Environment Officer Amos Mbutu exhibited the schools tree growing model of the GIC project, highlighting the project’s contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration, the control soil erosion by increasing topsoil infiltration and reducing runoff, and ultimately grooming the next generation of environmental ambassadors.
“It was honour to get recognition from our efforts for four years after starting the pilot project at the semi-arid counties of Embu and Machakos with 81 schools”, said Mr. Igecha. “Currently, we have 219 schools involved in phase II and III of the afforestation competition. We will be adding 100 more in 2018 so as to be able to achieve our ultimate objective of greening more than 460 acres with Melia volkensii, locally known as Mukau, and other dry-land tree species at schools within the two counties, including Kitui”.
Mukau, including Muveshi (S. Siamea) and Terminalia brownie, are the choice trees for the Schools Green Initiative Challenge, a unique project implemented by KenGen Foundation in partnership with Better Globe Forestry and Bamburi Cement Ltd. The project’s main objective is the greening of over 460 acres in the semi-arid counties of Embu, Kitui and Machakos as a way of mitigating climate change and providing wood fuel and alternative income opportunities for the local communities.
Melia Volkensii (Mukau) is a tree species that is indigenous to East Africa. In Kenya, the species grows naturally in Mbeere, Tharaka, Kitui, Mutomo, Mwingi, Makueni and Taita Taveta counties. The tree can grow to heights of up to 15m high and a diameter of 50cm over a period of 20 years. Mukau is drought resistant and can grow with an annual average rainfall of 400-1000mm. As a hardwood, it produces good quality timber, which makes it quite marketable and is also useful as fodder, bee keeping, and bio-pesticide manufacturing.
So far over 80,000 tree seedlings have been planted through the GIC, with 40,000 more to be distributed to the new schools next year.
–Ernest Nyamasyo, Communication Officer