A coalition of public and private entities is scaling up a reforestation initiative at Cheptais Forest in Mt. Elgon, Bungoma County. The initiative dubbed the Cheptais Forest Reforestation Project is a partnership of the East Africa Infrastructure Platform (EAIP), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), and Cheptais Community Forest Association (CCFA). A pilot phase of the project was completed in 2021 by IberAfrica (EA) Power, one of the Portfolio Companies oversighted by EAIP, which saw some 60,200 tree seedlings planted over 55 hectares of land.
As the world continues to battle environmental challenges, Africa remains the worst hit and the stakes remain high for more localized efforts towards adaptation and mitigation to address the negative impacts of climate change. One practical approach to mitigation is through reforestation of degraded forest land.
Cheptais Forest Rehabilitation Project 2.0
Today, a new phase of the project is underway at Cheptais Forest to plant 5,500 trees over 5 hectares of land. The forest lies in the Mt. Elgon ecosystem, which is one of the five water towers in the country covering an area of about 124,760 acres and is a catchment for the drainage systems of Lake Victoria, Lake Turkana, and the Turkwel hydropower plant. KFS selected this forest in support of the government’s conservation drive to rehabilitate and restore forest cover in Kenya, especially within critical water towers.
(TOP: Far right – Koech Kebenei, the forest station manager, Cheptais, KFS; Joshua Were, the Kengen Manager for Environment; Anthony Gesha, the – chairman, Kengen Foundation; George Njenga, the CEO, East African Infrastructure Platform; and Wambugu Waimahiu, IFCMS Director).
The CEO of EAIP, George Njenga said, “We are excited about this new phase of our greening Kenya reforestation project. The impact of the project is immense and multi-dimensional; in the short-term it will provide livelihood to the local Cheptais community who supply labor and seedlings, while in the long-term it will contribute to the restoration of biodiversity, critical water catchment habitats, and ultimately reverse the challenges of climate change. We thank our partners including the Kenya Forest Service, Cheptais Community Forest Association, Kengen, Ministry of Energy, the county administration and our implementing partner- IFCMS, for their collaboration and support as we strive to collectively address climate change and achieve sustainable development.”
By partnering with the Cheptais Community Forest Association (CCFA), the project will benefit from the knowledge of the CCFA members, and in turn the CCFA members will earn an income by providing labor, seedlings and potentially from apiculture.
“We are partnering with the local communities to scale our reforestation efforts by training them on how to manage the planted trees and encouraging them to form Forest Community Associations to access the forests. With close to 4000 hectares of land, we encourage other organizations to join us together with the EA Infrastructure and adopt more land for reforestation,” said Isaac Simiyu, the KFS Bungoma County Representative.
Commenting on the project, CCFA Chairlady Jeanfrix Talieng Said, “The effects of climate change have challenged us to take responsibility for our past actions as a community and join the government’s bold vision to plant 15 billion trees and reach 30 percent tree cover by 2032. We thank the EA Infrastructure Platform for partnering with us to restore the Cheptais forest for the benefit of current and future generations.”
The new phase of the project is being spearheaded by EAIP in partnership with KFS, Integrated Forestry Consultancy and Management Services Kenya Limited (IFCMS) as the implementation partner and also supported by the Ministry of Energy and the Royal Danish Embassy. The project is anticipated to be completed by the end of June ‘23 and will pave the way for further scaling of the project.
EAIP was incorporated in March 2022 as a portfolio manager for A.P. Moller Capital-owned power assets in East Africa. EAIP provides oversight over portfolio company operations e.g. performance monitoring, audit and compliance, reporting, government and key stakeholder liaison and strategic leadership. EAIP also oversees business development and new investment activities in East Africa with a focus on energy, power, logistics and transport infrastructure.
Established in 2009, Cheptais Community Forest Association (CCFA) boasts a membership of 3,000 – 1,300 men & 1,700 women including 700 widows. The Association’s core goal is to supply seedlings and provide labour for pitting, planting & fencing within Cheptais Forest as a way of providing employment to the local community members while contributing to environmental conservation.
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is a state corporation that was created through the Forest Act, 2005 (now repealed). The Service derives her mandate from the Forest Conservation and Management Act (FCMA), 2016. KFS has a mission of conservation, sustainable development, management and utilization of the country’s forest resources for the equitable benefit of present and future generations.
IFCMS Kenya is a registered consultancy Company dedicated to the development and deployment of skills and technologies that result in quality forestry practices and community development services. IFCMS has a mission to build a well-managed, Sustainable and Profitable Forestry sector in Kenya and beyond.