Meru Nanyuki Community Reforestation
Integrating reforestation to sequester carbon with community development activities, the Meru and Nanyuki Community Reforestation Project in Kenya, combines hundreds of individual tree planting activities and enables local communities to improve access to food and create additional sources of income beyond subsistence farming.
Based near the slopes of Mt. Kenya in the central part of the country, the project consists of over four thousand individual project areas and over eight thousand members. The project enables members, who are small hold farmers, to plant trees on their land only to the extent that they can afford to, as they still use the majority for subsistence agriculture. The farmers receive annual payments for each planted tree and additionally will, in the future, collect revenues as the trees grow and sequester carbon. To assess the carbon value of the trees, the project uses an innovative data collection system consisting of battery-operated palm computer.
Globally, deforestation and changes in land use account for approximately 18% of global carbon emissions, more than the transport and aviation sectors combined. In Kenya, there is a clear pattern of forest degradation, particularly due to rural firewood use and agricultural activity. According to the Kenyan environmental group, Green Belt Movement, at the turn of the 20th century, Kenya had a forest cover of well over 10%. Today, this has been reduced to less than 2% due to deforestation, commercial agriculture, charcoal burning, and forest cultivation.
Under traditional practices, farmers clear trees to increase available agricultural land, exposing and eroding the land by removing nutrients from the soil. As land becomes unproductive, farmers move to new areas and cut down more trees, continuously turning fertile land into marginal land. Additionally, the population of Kenya is growing at approximately 2.5% annually, increasing pressure on the existing biomass. Forestry projects such as the Meru and Nanyuki Community Reforestation Project, help directly address these problems, turning reforestation into an economically viable and socially beneficial activity while removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
In addition to mitigating the negative impact of deforestation on greenhouse gas emissions, the project delivers additional environmental benefits which will only expand as members plant more trees and existing trees mature. These include the reduction of soil erosion, contribution to the improvement of the water catchment areas, through tree planting, particularly in the important land between rivers and streams, increased vegetation cover which minimises surface water runoff, and improves infiltration into the soil and enhanced biodiversity.
Video: Commercial Director Nathan Wimble discusses his recent visit to the Meru and Nanyuki forestry project: