Tsavo Heritage Foundation has launched an initiative dubbed the Tsavo Climate Challenge, which seeks to reclaim the dwindling Tsavo ecosystems by growing and nurturing 40 million trees in 12 counties in a span of three years.
The pilot phase starts this year in four counties including Nairobi, Makueni, Taita Taveta, and Mombasa. Work in Kajiado, Machakos, Kitui, Tana River, Garissa, Kwale, Kilifi, and Lamu, begins in 2018.
“The ecological biodiversity, cultural and historical heritage of these counties which fall under the wider Tsavo Ecosystem Dispersal Area (TEDA), are under threat from adverse effects of unsustainable land use, environmental degradation, inappropriate management of natural resources and the effects of climate change,” said Tsavo Heritage Foundation Founder Member Mrs Wanjala Sio, at the launch of the Tsavo Climate Challenge in Nairobi on Thursday.
“Tsavo is a shadow of its former self. The loss of forest cover, reduced river flow and the effects of climate change had led to systematic desertification of two Parks, with devastating economic effects to the communities living within Tsavo ecosystem. We are launching this initiative to help up reclaim Tsavo and return it to its former glory,” she said.
Tree planting in an attempt to solve water scarcity
Mrs Wanjala noted that water scarcity was a more imminent threat to both human and wildlife and “work must be urgently done to get water systems rehabilitated and conserved for the sustenance of this critical ecosystem.”
The world’s renowned ecologist John D. Liu, who launched the Tsavo Climate Challenge initiative, said there was hope of reclaiming the Tsavo ecosystem but relevant bodies need to act faster, adding that the process should not be left to conservationist alone.
“Ecosystem restoration camps are the best possibility because they are low cost, high impact and it allows you to engage many people in mitigation and adaptation restoring hydrological cycles, biodiversity, and growing soil. Through these activities, these camps will be able to provide meaningful engagement to thousands of unemployed youths,” Liu said.
Working with communities
Mrs Sio said the Foundation would be working with the local communities, special interest groups and institutions including CBOs and learning institution to fast track the rehabilitation process.
“We want to work with the local communities and institutions because we want the locals to own the initiate as we move from just planting trees to growing and nurturing them, which takes longer, and the communities are in a better position to tend to the trees until they are mature enough to survive on their own,” she said.
She said the efforts of the communities will be recognized by way of various incentives including cash awards in line with rates approved by Tsavo Heritage Foundation, adding that the incentives will be based on participation, reward of effort, recognition of proportionality and concern for fairness to create a win-win situation.
The Foundation has also lined up some activities to support the Climate Challenge initiative including a marathon dubbed Tsavo Run which will allow for participation by individuals and corporate organizations; a special conference on climate change; and a cultural and award ceremony event dubbed The Beats of Tsavo to celebrate Tsavo while awarding and recognize leaders in its conservation and rehabilitation.
“This is a huge task which requires a lot of resource- monetary and otherwise. At the launch we will be appealing to corporate organisations to support the initiative through cash donations and also to be part of the Tsavo Run, the conference and cultural event,” Mrs Sio said.
More about the Tsavo Ecosystem Dispersal Area
Tsavo Ecosystem Dispersal Area (TEDA) incorporates vast savannahs, plains, hills and water towers such as Chyulu, Taita Hills, Shimba Hills in Kwale and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania from which extensive rivers and water systems emanate including the volcanic Mzima Springs, Lugard’s Falls, Tana, Athi-Galana-Sabaki and Voi Rivers; in addition to unique water bodies such as Lakes Jipe and Chala and even the Indian Ocean – the final destination of water from all these rivers and water bodies.