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29 Jan, 2023
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nurturing the forest

Nurturing The Forest!! – Article by Gareth Jones

Nurturing The Forest – Nairobi National Park

In the last three months of 2021, a wonderful plan to plant close to 900 trees on a neglected section of the original Nairobi Greenline swung into action. It was exciting to see many people coming together and using their God given gifts and talents to ensure that this project was a success. As many of us are aware,  on the 18th February 2010, the first trees were planted on the Nairobi Greenline as an initiative of KAM (Kenya Association of Manufacturers -largely due to the vision of the late Anoop Shah), in partnership with the Kenya Wildlife Service and other corporate organisations and many schools. However, over a period of years, there were a number of setbacks that caused the Nairobi Greenline to lose thousands of young trees due to large projects like the southern bypass and the SGR new railway.

As the 16th December 2021 was the official day that the Nairobi National Park celebrated its 75th year since its humble beginning, just one year after the end of the second world war in 1946, so the planting of close to 900 trees has become part of marking of the NNP 75th year with a permanent action that celebrates life with trees. The project approved by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) was given the name [email protected] TREE PLANTING INITIATIVE!

Digging holes and planting young trees is a great action for anyone to be involved in. However, such enthusiastic efforts can be in vain if many of the trees die in the months after planting. But thankfully, those who worked hard to ensure the trees were planted well, also ensured the implementation of a plan to also nurture the forest. Special electrified fencing was installed (by a technical team managed by Michael Mbithi) to minimize the possibility of herbivores destroying many of the young trees. Two 5,000 litre water tanks (donated by Roto Moulders Ltd) and a water pump powered by solar panels to pump water (donated by Davis & Shirtliff) through underground piping to water the trees. Multiple generous donations in the form of trees, materials, water and cash have also been received, God bless all those who gave unconditionally towards this worthwhile project.

Like many successful projects, there were some challenges, like substandard steel frames below the water tanks, and the theft of some solar panels. But irrespective of the small setbacks, it was great to see the determined commitment of the project management team responding to act rapidly and find practical working solutions. Those who participated in the tree planting are varied in that they come from various conservation based organisations and individual backgrounds all working together for a common cause. If only more humans could also find better ways of working together in other important aspects of life. It has also been wonderful to observe so many young people from different conservation action groups with their enthusiastic energy getting “hands on” to make a difference, as true “change agents”.

So, now that all the “baby trees” are in the ground, continuous responsibility starts for those involved to “parent the forest trees to maturity”. Just like in a family we nurture our children to grow up strong, so this forest will need plenty of loving care from many people over the next few years. Especially activities such as watering in the dry season and weeding when needed. People need to continue to be actively involved in the process of nurturing the forest to maturity, until the trees are strong enough to stand alone.

This current [email protected] tree project has significantly improved a section of the park boundary behind the hyena dam and parallel to the southern bypass motorway, and will hopefully grow significantly to become a wonderfully green natural buffer to protect Nairobi National Park from traffic noise pollution and enhance the view. As it has often been said “trees are effectively like the lungs of the earth”, it is
therefore, hoped that these new trees will thrive in the coming years, as faithfully dedicated people continue to show how much they care. It is my sincere hope that this tree planting initiative will ignite the passion to revive the Nairobi Greenline all the way down to Athi River. It should be noted that about 250,000 indigenous trees were planted over 10 years ago, with well over Ksh40 million invested, effectively “drawing a line” over 30km long and 50m wide along the eastern boundary of the Park from near the Carnivore to Athi River. But, sadly thousands of the original Nairobi Greenline trees were destroyed due to various infrastructure projects along the eastern boundary of the park.

The Nairobi Greenline has been a fantastic example of what dedicated people can do to transform the landscape. The actions of this current generation with projects like the [email protected] Initiative will continue to have a dramatic effect in encouraging future generations to participate in future activities that will ensure a green heritage. Let us all hope and pray that in 2046 when the Nairobi National Park celebrates 100 years, that by then, the Nairobi Greenline will be a wonderful mature forest stretching along the entire eastern boundary of the park. Therefore, making a powerful living green statement that this planted and nurtured forest is here to stay and contribute to being part of the “lungs of Nairobi”. It has been said that people who really care about the Nairobi National Park should be a “voice for the creatures who cannot speak”, perhaps we can also all be a “voice for the trees who cannot speak!!”

 

Nurturing the forest
Gareth Jones – A passionate writer & photographer
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