This initiative is aimed at conserving and restoring water and forest ecosystems in Kenya. This is in line with ongoing government efforts as recognized in various documents, key among them being; the Kenya Vision 2030, National Climate Change Action Plan 2013 -2017 and the Master Plan for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Water Catchment Areas in Kenya (2012).
To actualize it, WSCSD-Kenya member universities – through WSCSD affiliate student associations – adopt a forest and/or a river ecosystem of choice and commit to undertake its conservation and restoration.
The initiative aims at addressing five (5) gaps as follows;
- Restoration of Kenya’s forest and river ecosystems
- Exploiting underutilized on-campus land resources
- Engaging underutilized on-campus human (student) resources
- Promoting entrepreneurship amongst students and student associations
The initiative has two sub-components; adopt-a-forest and adopt-a-river.
Forest ecosystems in Kenya rank high as the country’s natural asset and play critical ecological, social, cultural, and economic functions. According to the Kenyan Constitution and the economic development blueprint, Vision 2030, it’s a requirement that Kenya works towards achieving a forest cover of atleast 10% of its land area to ensure sustainable resource use, growth and employment creation.
Despite this, deforestation is estimated to result in loss of 50,000 hectares of forest cover annually and yearly loss to the economy of over USD 19 million. Consequently, the current forest cover falls below the constitutional requirement of 10%.
On the other hand, the number of universities as well as their yearly enrolment is consistently rising. Further, the combined university-owned land resource amounts to thousands of hectares.
The Adopt-a-Forest Initiative is therefore aimed at engaging underutilized on-campus human (student) resources and exploiting underutilized on-campus land resources in order to push the current forest cover to the recommended 10%. This is while promoting entrepreneurship amongst students and student associations.
WSCSD – Kenya oversees establishment and maintenance of a tree nursery by its affiliate student association in each of the adopting institution’s ‘Green Zone’. The tree nurseries provide;
- Seedlings for periodic tree planting exercises in the adopted forest ecosystems.
- Seedlings for greening the institutions (WSCSD – Kenya proposes that each institution maintains atleast a 10% tree cover of its land area and commits to offsetting carbon emissions resulting from air travel by its top management).
- Revenue to the respective student associations through sale of seedlings to their institutions and other interested individuals, groups and organizations out of campus.
- Adopt a Forest Initiative Flier
- Report of the Launch of Adopt a Forest Initiative – International Day of Biological Diversity 2013
- Report – Launch of Adopt a forest initiative in Moi University and Relaunch of Moi University Environmental Club
2. “Adopt a River” Initiative
The Rio +20 outcome document, “The Future We Want” noted that: “We recognize the key role that ecosystems play in maintaining water quantity and quality and support actions within respective national boundaries to protect and sustainably manage these ecosystems”. In addition, the document recognized the core role played by water in the achievement of sustainable development (paragraphs 119 – 124).
Wetlands are crucial to maintenance of the water cycle and provision of water-related ecosystem services. They directly and indirectly power myriad sectors including agriculture, tourism and fisheries among others. However, despite their importance, wetlands continue to be degraded and lost in some instances. This is due to the effects of irrigation, intensive agricultural production, urbanization, increased water extraction for domestic and industrial use, pollution and industrial and infrastructure development.
According to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the 168 contracting parties (member states) to the convention have committed to the “conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions, and international coorperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world’
The Kenya State of the Environment Outlook Report (2010) notes that wetlands are the most undervalued ecosystems in Kenya while urban wetlands are among the most threatened. This is due to their direct conversion into built up areas (either planned or unplanned). In this situation, irreversible damages to and/ or loss of aquatic biodiversity, altered ecosystems’ productive systems and adverse effects to human health and safety are inevitable challenges.
In response to this, the WSCSD – Kenya in partnership with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the support of various stakeholders have partnered to implement the ‘Adopt-a-River Initiative’. This is a ‘people-driven’ wetlands monitoring and restoration project that entails adoption of a nearby river by secondary school/university/college student groups, community youth groups and other interested institutions. The groups are expected to monitor the health of adopted river over time using Mini Stream Assessment Scoring System (miniSASS), a simple, user-friendly community river health bio-monitoring tool. The group will then identify possible sources of pollution and take local action towards restoration and conservation of the river.
Overall, the aim of the project is to strengthen the link between the curricula and addressing real sustainability challenges in Kenya. Specifically, it seeks to;
- Strengthen monitoring of rivers by local stakeholders using citizen science tools
- Steer restoration of polluted rivers in Kenya to make them more clean and healthy
- Make learning of biology, especially the dichotomous key more interesting and hands-on for secondary school students
- Enhance knowledge on and spur interest in community-led ecosystem conservation among youths.
The project is currently being piloted within Nairobi River Basin before upscaling to other parts of the country
For more information, download the following project documents: