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Harvesting water in ASAL REDD: The situation in Kenya Growing a backyard forest SPGS: A creative force in Ugandan forestry The New Forests Company looks to the future

Ksh 250 Ush 7,000 I s s u e N o.7 J u l y - Se p t e m b er 2010

Trading in carbon

It could save our forests and alleviate poverty

Where is the money? Comparing commercial tree farming to maize growing

The unrecognised star of the savanna woodlands The shea butter tree could be turned into a gold mine

Against the current

Unorthodox eucalypt management techniques create profits for Kitui farmers

The Magazine for the Children of Africa


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BINGWA magazine is an educational yet fun magazine with plenty of stories, puzzles and cartoons in English and Swahili languages. There are also competitions in every issue with lots of prizes to be won. BINGWA magazine is targeted at children aged between 10 and 13 years. It is published every term with some copies distributed free of charge to primary schools countrywide. BINGWA is now available for subscription at Ksh 300 per year. It is also available in selected outlets. For more information contact us on 020 434 32 68 , 0719 619 006 or email us at Visit our website

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Happiness grows on trees








Against the current

Unorthodox eucalypt management techniques create fat profits for Kitui farmers

Readers’ views


Looking to the future


A market for carbon

Trading could reduce forest destruction and alleviate poverty

The New Forests Company plants trees today, for tomorrow


What is more profitable?

Commercial growing of Eucalyptus grandis vs. agricultural crops


Tabias for harvesting water in ASAL

Planning, calculation, construction and maintenance


Not so shallow

Wells are an inexpensive and efficient way to get water in the ASAL countryside


Hidden under the canopy

Estimating the carbon potential of forests in Kenya


REDD: Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation

Background, explanations and the situation in Kenya


Ahead of the pack

Some Kenyan farmers have already tapped into the international carbon market


Masters of their craft


A creative force in forestry

SPGS links Ugandan growers to sound commercial tree planting techniques

The SOS Children’s Village produces refined furniture makers


GreenLine takes off

Kenyans launch initiative on World Environment Day


Tree ‘Number One’

President Museveni leads the 31-million-tree campaign


The unsung star of the savanna woodlands

Properly nurtured, the shea butter tree could be turned into a gold mine


Growing a backyard forest

The story of a coastal woodland that was grown from scratch


Not yet out of the woods

Bulk tree product buyers have not embraced farm forestry as a reliable alternative to public forests


There is money in charcoal

The sub-sector is more profitable than people think

Mukau: A Ken with a brig yan drylands tree ht future Yatta farm er makes farming big busines tree s Interview with George May Ugandan farm er, anja

On the cover: Castle Forest on the slopes of Mt Kenya. This is a lush tropical montane moist forest, a carbon sink with an average of 120 – 160 tonnes of carbon per hectare, above ground. The root systems below the Trading in carbo ground have a weight of n Where is the mon 20 per cent of the above ey? ground biomass and The re cognised of thun e sava nna woostar will hence sequester an dlands additional 20 per cent of Against the curr ent carbon. Inset: Africa produces less air pollution compared to industrial giants like Western countries or China. Nevertheless, it exists and is increasing. Harvest ing wat er in ASA REDD: The L situatio n in Ken Growin ya g a back yard fore SPGS: A st creative force in The New Uganda Forests n forestry Compan y looks to the futu re Ksh 250 Ush 7,000

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Compari ng comme farming to maize rcial tree growing

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Happiness grows on trees


frica, and more particularly East Africa, has a forestry problem. The region’s forests are declining at an alarming rate, with adverse consequences on the well-being of human beings, animals and the climate. Moreover, the productive land in areas with favourable climatologic conditions is now completely populated, increasingly pushing people to settle in semi-arid and arid areas where they put the survival of the value trees in great danger. On 23rd November 2005, the Government of Kenya ratified a new Forest Act, which opens commercial plantations to lease arrangements by interested groups to supplement government efforts. The aim is to increase the availability of wood and wood products. However, there is a need to gather and analyse data on both deforestation and afforestation, not only in the gazetted forest reserves but also all over the country. Indeed, Kenya has submitted a REDD (Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation) readiness proposal to the World Bank. However, priority is given to countries with substantial forest cover and forest carbon stock. Moreover, the relevance of forests in the economy, including the livelihoods of people, is taken into consideration. In this respect, Kenya is quite representative of many African countries that are situated in ASAL, with dry forests and woodlands which are often large emitters of carbon dioxide through degradation. In this issue of Miti, Jan Vandenabeele gives us the background and explanations on REDD but even before that, James Kung’u hints at how carbon trading could reduce forest destruction and alleviate rural poverty, while Mwangi Kinyanjui estimates the carbon potential of forests in Kenya. Enock Kanyanya makes a case study of tree planting for carbon in the highlands. We are convinced that with these four articles, our readers will get a very good insight into this complex matter. In an interview, Paul Jacovelli, the technical adviser of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) in Uganda, explains how he took on the challenge of commercial tree planting in Uganda and Moses Watasa lists the impressive tree planting efforts and achievements through Uganda’s National Forestry Authority (NFA). And this time, one tree from the Uganda drylands grasped our attention: the shea butter tree. You will not regret reading what Patrick Byakagaba and Joseph Ondyer have to say about it. Joshua also looked at what The New Forests Company has achieved in Uganda since 2005, while Will Knocker inspires us to grow trees in difficult circumstances. From the commercial side, Joshua Cheboiwo and David Langat compare the commercial growing of Eucalyptus grandis and agricultural crops in Kenya. What do you think is more profitable? Finally, Herman Verlodt proves to us all over again that he is an absolute master in water management and harvesting in ASAL with the second part of his article on Tunisian tabias. All the writers have managed to reduce the above issues, some of them very difficult, to understandable levels. From our side we want you all to rally to one theme; “Happiness grows on trees!” Enjoy the reading.

Jean-Paul Deprins

Published by:

Chairman of the Editorial Board:

Editorial Coordinator – Uganda

TQML LTD P.O. Box 823 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: + 254 20 434 3435 Mobile: + 254 722 262 061 Email:

Rino Solberg

Joshua Ondyer

Editorial Committee

Contributing Editor

Joshua Cheboiwo, Enock Kanyanya, James Kung’u, Fridah Mugo, Jackson Mulatya, Leakey Sonkoyo, Jean-Paul Deprins, Jan Vandenabeele, Mundia Muchiri and Wanjiru Ciira

Mundia Muchiri

Uganda office: MITI MAGAZINE ® P.O. Box 22232 Kampala, Uganda Mobile: + 256 752 896 205 Email:

Printed by: Ramco Printing Works Ltd

Editor-in-chief Jean-Paul Deprins

Managing Editor – Kenya Wanjiru Ciira

Advertising and subscription - Kenya Christine Karanja Tel: 0723 065 510

Advertising and subscription - Uganda

Jan Vandenabeele

Managing Editor – Uganda


Julie Solberg

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Brandvision Agency Ltd Tel: +256 312 111 854 or +256 414 530 259

Technical Editor



Miti July-September 2010

Miti Inbox


’ve read both the 5th and 6th issues of Miti and I have to say it was worth it. Jan Vandenabeele’s articles in Miti 5 are well researched and the language used is easy to understand. Although he writes on serious technical topics, he writes in a manner that draws even the non-technical reader. His writing makes Miti worth the read. It was interesting to learn that my kei apple fence has edible fruits full of vitamin C. Previously, I just used to sweep and destroy the fruits. Good reading. “Baba Matunda” deserves recognition for what he has contributed to the development of horticulture. In addition, it was enlightening to find out that the macadamia nut, which I’ve always found “common”, is actually a luxurious nut in the market…worth a fortune. I am thinking about the possibilities. I also liked the story on mangoes in Ukambani and how they can be stressed to produce fruit when convenient. In Miti 6, the article titled “Trees for the coast” was very good. I have been resident in the North Coast for years and apart from the casuarina trees (which Nature Kenya has encouraged the locals to grow), I didn’t know there are many others that one can grow.

Trees for the coast A hands-on tree-grower gives some pointers


By Will Knocker

have been growing trees at the coast for 25 years and would like to share some thoughts on useful tree species, now that commercial tree growing is a popular option for farmers who want to make best use of their land. In growing trees commercially, one’s main concern is time. Trees need time and the tree grower needs to consider species that will mature for harvesting in the short, mid and long-term. Here we are considering species suitable for timber or other wood products rather than agricultural tree species for fruit, for gardens or for forest enrichment, etc. Let us begin with short-term species. The most obvious one is casuarina (Casuarina equisetifolia), commonly grown along the coast and well known for its toughness, drought resistance, fast and straight growth. This is obviously a prime candidate for planting, being a nitrogen fixer as well. The only downside is that everyone else at the coast will also be planting it… Neem (Azadirachta indica) is also a good choice for its toughness, fast growth and resistance to drought, but needs to be planted close together to ensure upward growth. This large-crowned species requires a lot of pruning, and beware; neem is an invasive species if left to seed and to sucker willy-nilly. Gliricidia sepium from South America is a good short-term species with nitrogen fixing properties. It grows fast and is useful for intercropping and companion planting with other species. One of the species made famous by Renee Haller at the Haller Park north of Mombasa is Conocarpus lancifolius, a tall, tough, quick-growing tree from Somalia, suitable for charcoal and building poles. High rainfall and temperatures make the coast climate ideal for fast production of wood products. Among the species we must mention is Gmelina arborea, one of the fastest growing species in the tropics, and exotic Macaranga species, to my knowledge not yet grown or even tried at the Kenya coast. If you have been to Malindi recently, you will have noticed the fine avenue of shady

A young stand of Casuarina equisetifolia planted in the coastal strip. Spacing is close, to produce relatively thin stems (8-10cm diameter) within a few years. Local residents have taken up this crop with great relish, to supply the building industry with poles.

trees growing by the side of the main road as you enter the town from the south. You would be right if you thought to yourself “That’s funny, there never WERE trees here in the past!” for these are Albizia lebbeck, one of the fastest growing medium-sized trees at the coast. In this case, the trees have sprung to maturity in just ten years! Native to tropical Asia, this species would be an ideal candidate for large-scale commercial growing for wood products generally. Longer-term tree species for consideration should include three of the six mangrove species native to the Kenya coast, namely boriti (Rhizophora mucronata) msikundazi (Heritiera littoralis) and Avicennia marina. Avicennia is definitely a quick grower under suitable conditions. Interestingly, it

grows in seawater, and will die in fresh water! It is a suitable candidate for charcoal and firewood. Boriti and msikundazi both take longer to mature, especially the latter, a tall timber species favoured for dhow masts at the coast. Other neglected species for the mid-term are three acacia species A.tortilis (subspecies raddiana), A. robusta and A. rovumae. A. robusta grows very well and very fast in suitable conditions. To see truly massive examples of this species, visit the Tana River Primate Reserve at Mchelelo on the Tana. An easily obtained indigenous species suitable for its straight growth and fast maturity is Diospyros squarrosa in the family Ebenecae. Perhaps the most valuable species to consider are those that inevitably take the


M i ti A pr i l - Ju n e 2010

In Miti 6, the article titled “Trees for the coast” was very good. I have been resident in the North Coast for years and apart from the casuarina trees (which Nature Kenya has encouraged the locals to grow), I didn’t know there are many others that one can grow.

As the article on the doum tree “The king of palm wood” mentioned, the doum tree produces really good timber. The timber is strong and wonderful for outdoor furniture take it from a firsthand user. While I applaud you for a good magazine, you need to improve on a number of areas. For one thing, East Africa is becoming one big, common block and soon we will be sharing everything. So, apart from Uganda, which you already cover, we would appreciate articles from Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.  Again, it would be a plus to make the magazine appealing to all age groups. After all, we need to interest children in treeplanting and conservation matters at an early age. Fun-breaks would also work well. You could introduce satire on trees and related matters. Cartoon strips, crossword puzzles and other fun items would make Miti easily “pickable” compulsively from the desk. The photographs in the magazine could do with a professional touch. I appreciate the pictures because they break the monotony of words and their captions are very informative. However, some are not as sharp as they should be.  Rose Wambui Nairobi

Trees are life

Water articles are very useful

Congratulations for launching Miti magazine. I find the articles, particularly those on tree planting and water management, very useful. I come from a dry area of Kenya where I plant trees. However, water is normally a problem and the trees end up dying. For this reason, I find the topic of water management, especially in dry lands, particularly interesting. I have learnt quite a few things from the Miti issues I have read. However, I think it would be useful to include costings of water management systems in every issue you publish. This would enable readers to assess the viability of their projects.

Thank you for sending me your impressive magazine. Trees are life and the work you are doing is commendable. I really liked the cover photograph of Miti issue 5. It was bright, lively and colourful. I was also impressed to see the kind of serious farming taking place in dry areas like Makueni and Kibwezi. Kaloki Mbiti, Makueni

Mariam Kimathi, Nairobi The views expressed in Miti magazine are the writers’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of Better Globe or TQML. WRITE TO US We welcome feedback on any article you have read in Miti magazine, or on any issue on tree-planting, afforestation and related matters. Please include your name, address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for clarity or space. Please send your letters to: The Editor Miti magazine P.O. Box 832 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya. Email:


Or Miti magazine P.O. Box 22232 Kampala, Uganda Email:

CALENDAR OF EVENTS August – September 2010

XXIII IUFRO World Congress 23-28th August Forests for the Future: Sustaining Society and the Environment Seoul, Republic of Korea  For more information visit International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer

16th September

Zero Omissions Day

20th September

World Habitat Day

International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction

1st October 2nd October

Miti April-June 2010

Now, a market

for carbon

Trading could reduce forest destruction and alleviate rural poverty


By James B Kung’u

lobal climate change is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges facing the human race today. Climate change is not only occurring, it is accelerating. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPCC, 4th assessment) reports that the world has warmed by nearly 1°C since pre-industrial times and the trend is still accelerating. Scientists have warned that without solid action to curb emissions in the immediate future, the global average temperature is likely to increase 2-4 °C further by the end of the 21st century. Increased concentrations of principal Green House Gases (GHGs) of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), per fluorocarbons (PFCs) and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the upper atmosphere over the last 150 years are the primary cause of the global warming phenomenon. The increased accumulation of these gases has in turn been caused mainly by human activity, in particular the combustion of fossil fuels and deforestation. High concentrations of GHGs in the upper atmosphere are expected to result in adverse global climate changes with

potentially severe negative socio-economic and environmental consequences. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation State of the World’s Forests 2003 report, evidence strongly suggests that average global surface temperatures are expected to rise by an estimated 1.4 to 5.80 C in the next 100 years while the frequency of climatic extremes (temperatures, precipitation and winds) will increase dramatically. Carbon dioxide, which accounts for 75 per cent of all GHG in the atmosphere, is reportedly accumulating at a rate of about 3.5 billion tonnes per annum with deforestation accounting for between 1.6 to 1.8 billion tonnes (IPCC, 1996).

Carbon trading In light of the potential negative socioeconomic and environmental consequences of green house gases, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in 1992 agreed to a convention on climate change to stabilise GHG levels in the atmosphere at a level that would not cause dangerous changes in the global climate. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was therefore conceived, with the main objective

of developing national inventories of GHG emissions and sinks and developing modalities for reducing their emissions. At the third conference of the parties to the UNFCCC in Kyoto Japan in 1997 (Kyoto Protocol), a set of nationally differentiated emission targets of green house gases was agreed, subject to ratification, for industrialised and transitional economies for the first commitment period between 2008 and 2012. Signatory nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gases emissions to an overall average of 5.2 per cent below 1990 levels. Developing countries were not assigned emission reduction targets. More than 180 member countries have so far signed and ratified the convention. The protocol allowed developed countries to use flexible mechanisms to achieve their targets. These included emissions trading (trading of allowances among developed countries), joint implementation (transferring emission allowances between developed countries linked to specific emission reduction projects) and the clean development mechanism. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was established under article 12 of the Kyoto Protocol and refers to climate mitigation projects undertaken between the developed

The Shimba hills in Kwale (South Coast) are part of an arc of bio-diversity that stretches from the Usambara mountains in Tanzania towards the Lamu archipelago. The protection of the bio-diversity would be enhanced by carbon trade under REDD. (Photo: KFS)

Miti July-September 2010


or transitional economies and the developing countries. CDM aims to assist parties in developing countries achieve sustainable development while allowing the Protocol objectives to be met. It acts as an international regulatory body to oversee emission reduction projects by either public or private agencies in developing countries. Under the CDM, developing countries or companies are paid for reducing emissions through reduced industrial production, energy substitution and efficient production processes. They are also paid if they provide sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide through the carbon sequestration programmes

Forestry sector and carbon trading In an increasingly carbon-constrained world, tree growers and forest managers are being asked whether their management activities contribute to increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases or whether they are contributing to climate change mitigation portfolios. The forest sector plays an important role in the global climate change debate. Forest carbon offset projects - whether planting trees, improving harvesting techniques, or not cutting trees - have some unique characteristics that may make these a unique investment asset class. The sector influences the global

under afforestation, reforestation or reduction in carbon dioxide release from existing vegetation. Kenya has already acceded to the Kyoto Protocol and has established a Designated National Authority (DNA) for CDM within the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). The country has also submitted the Initial National Communication (2002) and has in addition communicated its definition of a forest to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The country can therefore host afforestation and reforestation projects under the CDM.






Miti July-September 2010

carbon cycle through the sequestration of atmospheric carbon. Tree farming is being recognised in financial markets for the ecosystem services that it can provide, such as biomass for renewable energy, clean water, clean air, habitat for wildlife (especially threatened and endangered species) and now, carbon sequestration. The emerging market for forest carbon could support tree-farming programmes that could alleviate rural poverty and promote sustainable development especially in arid and semi arid lands. The semi-arid areas of Kenya are

characterised by low agricultural productivity due to poor and erratic rainfall, poor soils and severe land degradation. In such areas, growing more trees and improving marketing of tree products is likely to benefit landowners by diversifying their income base, increasing land productivity and raising the standards of living. Proceeds from the carbon market could be used to reward farmers who adopt cultivation techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Such methods could include growing crops under a canopy of fruit or timber trees, planting fodder trees

1 Even dry land bush sequesters carbon. A huge Sterculia africana tree (African star chestnut, or muusya in Kamba) in eastern Mwingi. 2 A eucalypt grove north of Kitui town. The growing of eucalypts is expanding fast in this part of Kitui, due to favourable ecological conditions (note the sugar cane field just below the eucalypts), and a tradition of successful eucalypt poles marketing. Such planting results in a high standing volume that is harvested on a continuous basis. Thanks to coppicing, this cycle goes on for 40 years, which translates into high carbon sequestration rates. The final produce is poles for the construction industry, which typically last for three four years before being converted into firewood. The primary incentive here is growing wood for money, and an additional income from carbon trade would top it up.

3 The Nandi Escarpment as seen from the plains in Kibos, on the outskirts of Kisumu. Once upon a time, these slopes were heavily forested, then cutting and fires took their toll. Erosion followed and stones “started to grow”. Technically, it is perfectly possible to establish high-yielding plantation forests here. 4 The Nandi Escarpment, with its forest cover in a less advanced state of destruction. But still … (Photos: Better Globe Forestry)

Miti July-September 2010

for livestock and curtailing the use of slash-andburn agriculture. The advantage of tree farming providing these new ecosystem services versus other systems, such as algae farms for energy, or underground storage tanks for carbon dioxide, is that trees can provide other amenities that alternative carbon storage systems cannot provide. Such services include clean air and water, wildlife habitat (especially for threatened and endangered species), soil erosion control, wood products and recreation for humans. These ecosystem services provided by trees can reward tree and forest landowners with increased revenue opportunities for their forestland and help in alleviating poverty. Planting trees is hugely beneficial to the world in the face of accelerating climate change. A substantial reduction in the planet’s forest cover over recent centuries has been a major contributor to this climatic change. As trees grow, they absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), the main “greenhouse gas” responsible for global warming, thereby reducing the concentration of this gas in the atmosphere. Forests function as “carbon sinks” and they absorb and store CO2. Planting trees can therefore bolster carbon sink areas and help to offset the loss of native forests and fight global warming. At a local level, tree planting on deforested lands could create more environmental benefits. Forests play a vital role in regulating water supplies, helping to minimise both water shortages in times of drought and damaging floods in heavy rains. Trees reduce soil erosion, thereby conserving soil quality upstream and water quality downstream. Forests also provide habitats for a wide array of plant and animal species, a number of which are threatened with extinction by deforestation. Sustainable forestry management can provide additional climate change and local environmental benefits in the longer term. Once harvested, the wood from the trees may be used either as a source of renewable energy, thereby reducing the use of fossil fuels, or for construction or furniture-making, thereby reducing deforestation elsewhere. A carbon trading for forestry scheme could pave the way for a dramatic turnaround in the rate of forest destruction in Kenya and encourage the establishment of more forests. The writer is the head, Department of Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University Email:


This is exactly what REDD is meant to counter. Degradation of natural forests that are a perfect carbon sink, into non-sustainable subsistence agriculture where erosion will play havoc with the fertile topsoil. In this case, the Mau complex. (Photo: KFS)

Fast growing eucalypt forests quickly absorb carbon from the atmosphere, but this is released after some 10-12 years through combustion (curing of tea), resulting in a zero emission process. This plantation is part of the bufferzone supposedly surrounding the Mau forest. (Photo: KFS)

Hidden under the canopy Estimating the carbon potential of forests in Kenya


By Mwangi James Kinyanjui

enya has already submitted a REDD readiness proposal to the World Bank. The proposal outlines the activities to undertake in the next three years to make Kenya ready for carbon trading. The readiness process seeks to establish an accurate reporting system, involve all relevant stakeholders and ensure that government policies and cultural practices of forest communities are respected. As a result, the proposal process involved three teams - the consultation team, the policy team and the methodology team. What is REDD? The acronym REDD stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. When forests are destroyed, pollutant gases are released to the atmosphere but when forests are conserved by reducing deforestation and forest degradation, the pollutant gases are retained in a non-harmful form in the forest. It is estimated that 20 per cent of global emissions of green house gases are due to deforestation and forest degradation.


How do forests sink carbon? Trees manufacture food by the process of photosynthesis. In the presence of light, plants manufacture their food using carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from the air and build stores of energy in the form of carbohydrates (CH2O). Therefore, as plants grow, they remove CO2 from the air (sequester carbon from the air) where it is a pollutant, and convert it into a harmless product (CH2O). This process continues throughout the growth period of the plant. For trees growing in a large area like a forest, this large-scale process seeks to rescind the pollution by factories and other respiratory processes. Typically, tree tissues (wood mostly) contain about 50 per cent carbon. What is the carbon content of our forests in Kenya? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives estimates on the carbon contents of different vegetation types in the world. However, these are just estimates based on available literature, and in some cases where such literature is unavailable,

estimates are made using research in similar vegetation types in the world. The carbon content in Kenya’s forests was determined using this method. The IPCC estimates indicate that the moist montane forests of Kenya - described by Henk Beentje in his 1994 book, Kenya Trees, Shrubs and Lianas, as having rainfall of at least 1,500mm with two rainy seasons - have a carbon content of about 190 cubic metres per hectare. This vegetation type dominates Kenya’s forest cover and comprises the forests in the five water towers - Mau Complex, Mt Kenya, Aberdares, Mt Elgon and Cherangany. Kakamega forest, a rainforest, has a slightly higher carbon content per hectare than the water towers but its area is quite small. What does the REDD process seek to do? This process seeks to reward the following forest conservation activities: Reducing deforestation Reducing forest degradation Planting trees and maintaining them. All these processes lead to removal of carbon from the atmosphere and storing it in a non-harmful form in the tree trunks

Miti July-September 2010

and roots. As a result, those who pollute the atmosphere should reward those who conserve forests and plant trees. This way, a moderation of pollution levels can be achieved under the climate change and pollution control agreements. For Kenya, which emits very little CO2 compared to the developed countries, we should be rewarded for conserving forests. However, the biggest challenge is the small extent of our forests. We also do not have enough information on the forest stocking levels, tree characteristics like wood density and growth rates. Why do we need to measure the carbon content in the forests? We need to develop a system that will measure, monitor changes and be able to report to a central system the status of the carbon content in our forests. For example, the Mau forest complex, which is over 400,000 hectares, has just about 40 per cent of its total land occupied by natural forests. The rest has been degraded, greatly reducing the potential of the forest to sequester carbon. However, we can only trade in carbon when we are sure of what we have in the forests and the potential of our forests to sequester carbon. Methods used by the Department for Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) to estimate carbon in Mau Forest Complex The multi stage process involves three levels of measurement: Use of high-resolution satellite images (like SPOT) to develop the vegetation types of the forest. An unsupervised classification was made to classify the forest into general vegetation types. Aerial photography to confirm the specific extent of the vegetation types. About 150 aerial photographs were taken by a low flying aircraft in February 2010. Ground truthing to measure the stocking levels of the forest (number of trees per hectare). Twenty-five sample plots measuring 28 metres radius were stratified in the different vegetation types. Trees were measured for DBH (diameter at breast height) and height. Calculation of the carbon contents It was not possible to do destructive sampling, which would have facilitated biomass measurements. Therefore, the DBH and height data was converted into tree volumes using existing volume models (Tables). Using IPCC

Miti July-September 2010

Figure 1: Distribution of vegetation types in the Mau Forest Complex

Table 1: Carbon estimates from different vegetation types of the Mau Forest Complex

Vegetation type

Above ground carbon estimate (T/ha)



7,959 176,160

1.90 42.26

64 - 106 112 -178

Closed canopy regenerating forest Cropland

3,312 24,358

0.79 5.84

Excision Forest bush Forest plantation

63,952 54,622 51,002

15.34 13.10 12.23

44 -170 -

Grassland Pure bamboo

18,504 15,580

4.43 3.73

Bamboo forest mixture Closed canopy mature forest

Tea farm




estimates of basic wood density, the biomass of each species identified was calculated and the total biomass per hectare obtained. Carbon is the equivalent of 0.5 of the biomass of any tree. The sum of the carbon contents of each vegetation type was then calculated. The ground truthing data was used to refine the distribution of the forest vegetation types and the results obtained are shown on Table 1. Estimates of value lost Communities benefiting from REDD projects in the world earn between US$ 5 and 20 per tonne of carbon conserved in the forests. The value of the Mau Forests as a carbon sink that has been lost can be calculated by assuming that the whole forest was well stocked and contained 112 - 178 tonnes of carbon per hectare. This may not be exactly true, because glades were not originally forested. Therefore, there is need to get historical data on forest changes e.g. before degradation started.


10-24 20-100 60-108 -

100 Baseline data This research sought to establish the forest carbon status at present. Using existing trends of deforestation and degradation, it is possible to monitor the carbon lost in the last few years (e.g. from 1973 because satellite data is available at DRSRS). It is also possible to project changes into the future using existing deforestation or reforestation rates. The same kind of study applied to other forests of Kenya would help estimate the current carbon contents of the forests and value the forests. However, the volume of root systems is not known, and this too is a valuable storage system for carbon. The writer is a Natural Resource Scientist, Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) Email:


Kenya’s dry lands that cover almost 80 per cent of the country present a major opportunity for carbon sequestration. KFS concentrates on the five water towers, which is a good strategy, but protection of dry land forests can bring in even more carbon funding. This photo shows a dryland forest on a rocky hill in Mutomo district. (Photo: KFS)

REDD: Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation Background, explanations and the situation in Kenya


By Jan Vandenabeele

s has been explained in another article in this edition of Miti, a relatively new concept called REDD (Reducing Emissions through avoided Deforestation and Degradation) is now added to the existing carbon trade systems. It is new in the sense that the role of forests as cheap and effective carbon sinks is now formally recognised, and it will be included in the Clean Development Mechanism once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Indeed, a study by the University of Leeds shows that tropical forests absorb about 18 per cent of all carbon dioxide added by fossil fuels into the atmosphere, thus buffering some effects of global warming. So, tropical afforestation can mitigate global warming until all available land has been reforested with mature forests. In theory, a mature natural forest is stocked with a stable volume of wood, both above and below ground (root systems), and the carbon absorbed during the day through photosynthesis will be emitted at night by respiration. Thus, a forest acts as a carbon reservoir. If it grows in volume it acts as a sink absorbing more carbon than it releases, and if it is cut down it becomes a source


of (atmospheric) carbon. If wood is harvested for timber or energy according to a sustainable management plan, the forest will regrow its lost volume of wood, sequestering more carbon. Forests that are harvested in such a way allow for retention of carbon in manufactured forest products such as lumber. But only a portion of the carbon removed from logged forests ends up as durable goods and buildings (sometimes estimated at around 20 per cent). The remainder is made into pulp, paper and pallets, which often end in incineration, resulting in the release of carbon into the atmosphere at the end of their lifecycle. The amount of wood in a forest ecosystem has hence to be measured, both above and below ground, to have a true picture of the carbon storage. But it is not as simple as that. If a proposal for carbon credits is made based upon REDD, it has to be proved that the situation before REDD was worse. Also, if afforestation takes place, there are activities that can release carbon into the atmosphere, such as the use of diesel-powered tractors. Ploughing and clearing prior to planting disturb the soil’s upper layers, which also store significant levels of carbon in humus, plant litter or

organic matter in general. Exposed to full sunlight, organic matter will mineralise quickly, releasing the carbon it contained. Despite all these complications, the role of forests is too important to be ignored, and a trade in Certified Emission Reductions under REDD has started. An example of REDD A good example of REDD is what happens in Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary (Taita Taveta) where Wildlife Works, an American NGO interested in wildlife conservation, has been active for 12 years. The ranch/sanctuary is adjacent to Tsavo National Park. Wildlife Works have done a detailed study of the area (80,000 acres or 32,000ha), to find out the amount of carbon being stored and the amount of emissions reduced through their conservation efforts. They have in fact calculated the amount of CO2 that would be released if the forest is not protected. This entailed the following: Comparison of the existing situation with the previous one. Proof had to be given of their legal rights to protect the forest for at least 20 years. Proof that the local communities had been

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given alternatives for income and collection of firewood so that they will participate in the protection of the forest (and not increase degradation somewhere else). Calculation of the tree biomass (through counting of numbers per species and taking their weight), and estimates of biomass contained in other organic matter like shrubs, grass and in the soil. Based on these data and certain hypotheses (e.g. population pressure), it was calculated what the biomass would be without protection. Payment of a third party auditor to verify all the claims. The amount of CO2 was then divided by the number of years of the project, so as to arrive at annual carbon units (annual emission reduction in tonnes of CO2), which are sold. This was a complex, expensive and time consuming process, said to have cost US$ 400,000, and it took six months to analyse and certify the 80,000 acres 1. But according to The Guardian (UK newspaper), they can expect US$ 2 million per year in returns. Thus, the criteria for carbon trade are quite stringent, which is necessary to stop unscrupulous people from exploiting the carbon market. Carbon market and trade Carbon has become a tradable commodity. A lively trade has ensued in Certified Emission Reductions (CERs) under the Kyoto Protocol (through for instance, the Clean Development Mechanism) and the European Union’s Emission Trading System (EU ETS). Both systems are very strictly regulated, while the Voluntary Carbon Market, where companies, entities and individuals buy emission reductions on a voluntary basis, is less regulated. The Voluntary Market is small compared to CDM and EU ETS, but growing. The price of carbon, expressed in US$ per tonne of CO2, and in 2007 was as follows:

To foresters, this photo might look like an overmature cypress plantation that wasn’t felled in time because of the Presidential ban on logging, to business people, it looks just like money, to lovers of biodiversity it is really awful, but in fact it stores over 200 tonnes of carbon per ha. This is sustainable plantation forestry, an excellent means to capture and sequester greenhouse gases. (Photo: KFS)

and reforestation in the Kikuyu escarpment; KFS and partners are supporting a community afforestation programme in Kakamega forest (500ha). The Clinton Climate Initiative: rehabilitation of Enoosupukia Forest Trust Land and adjoining areas (Narok). The latter will act as a demonstration site for the National Carbon Accounting System (NCAS).

2010-04-29, issue 479.

Development of a national strategy for REDD implementation in Kenya To participate in the carbon trade through REDD, developing countries need to have the capacity to implement and monitor a reduction in the rate of national deforestation (and degradation), and Kenya entered this process last year by submitting its REDD readiness proposal to the World Bank. As such, it can count on some funding to assist in the process, and access the REDD programme. To get an idea of what is at stake, Kenya is estimated to be emitting 14.4 million tonnes of CO2 per year through deforestation, the equivalent of 52,000ha. At a minimal imaginary price of US$ 5 per tonne, this is equivalent to US$ 72 million or Ksh 5.7 billion annually. The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has been designated as the national REDD focal point, and is spearheading a multi-stakeholder effort to develop a strategy for implementation of REDD activities in the country. KFS’s REDD readiness proposal identified the following socio-economic factors as contributing to Kenya’s loss of forest: Pressure for expansion of agricultural land, settlement and development. Unsustainable utilisation of forest resources. High dependency on wood energy for lighting and domestic consumption, especially

2 ESCONET stands for Escarpment Environment Conservation Network, working together

with Carbon Footprint Ltd, a UK based company, in conserving Rift Valley forests.

Carbon Market Programme CDM

US$ / Tonne of CO2 6-16



Voluntary off-sets

5-20 (20+)

However, carbon prices also responded to the 2009 world recession, and have gone down across the board, from for instance US$ 18-23 for EU-ETS to US$ 8-12 at the beginning of 2009. Apart from the Rukinga example, the following carbon trading initiatives are ongoing in Kenya: The Green Belt Movement is currently coordinating a carbon financed community based reforestation programme (1,800ha in Mt Kenya/Aberdares); The TIST programme (see article on pg 12); ESCONET 2 is currently involved in afforestation 1 In “REDD: Seeing the forest for the trees” by Khadija Sharife in Pambazuka News

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charcoal Overgrazing and forest fires Institutional failures arising from weak governance structures, inadequate capacity to enforce the law and lack of real stakeholder participation in forest management. KFS’s proposed interventions to stop the trend of deforestation and degradation are as follows: 1. Strict protection of water catchment forests: Mt Elgon, Cherangany, Aberdares, Mt Kenya and the Mau complex; 2. Improved stoves and other energy conservation technologies; 3. Promotion of nature-based micro enterprises; 4. Institutional strengthening to enhance sustainable management; 5. Public education and awareness; 6. Improvement on fire monitoring and management; 7. Provision of incentives, particularly payment for environmental services and tax holidays / rebates; 8. Incentives to promote efficiency in forest resource utilisation; 9. Supporting afforestation and reforestation to reduce the current national timber deficit 3. A REDD secretariat (at KFS), a Steering Committee and a Technical Working Group have been established, with three sub-groups: (i) consultation and participation, (ii) methodology and (iii) policy and institutional. So, the process is well under way, and Kenya will make its mark in the carbon market. The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry

3 And to reach the famous 10% goal of national forest cover instead of the current 1.7%


A typical landscape from Central Province (Murang’a district), close to a valley bottom. Tree growing takes up an important part of the land. Eucalypts and cypress are favoured for their fast growth. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

Ahead of the pack

Some Meru and Nyeri farmers have already tapped into the international carbon market


By Enock W. Kanyanya

armers in the Meru and Nyeri areas of the Mt Kenya region are ahead of many African farmers in innovations to take advantage of global climate change efforts. They have entered a partnership with two American companies - Institute for Environmental Innovation (I4EI) and Clean Air Action Corporation (CAAC) in an initiative called The International Small Group and Tree Planting Program, TIST. The initiative works with smallholder and subsistence farmers to plant trees to improve their livelihoods and at the same time address local, regional and global environmental issues such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. The programme is designed to harness a new revenue stream from the international carbon market to provide long-term income for farmers in the form of Payment for Environmental Services (PES). CAAC is a private sector organisation that teamed up with I4EI to introduce this agroforestry programme in the Mt Kenya region in 2005. According to Charles Ibeere, the coordinator in Meru, the programme has 6,831 registered small groups comprising over 49,674


individual members. The farmers have planted on their farms and in public places close to four million trees of various indigenous species. CAAC pays a stipend to the small groups for every surviving tree to encourage them to plant and manage trees. The trees are measured regularly to get the Diameter at Breast Height, which is used to calculate the amount of carbon in each tree. The data is then stored in a webbased database maintained in the USA. You can view the database at The programme has trained volunteer quantifiers who regularly visit farmers to count and measure the trees. The quantifiers use palm computers to relay the data to the database. Google earth maps are used to locate the farms where the trees are grown. The data is synchronised and the database updated automatically. Based on the data released, random auditing is carried out to authenticate the information and money is released to farmers through M-PESA. The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) recently sent a senior officer to the area to appraise the programme with a view of expanding it to cover riverine protection in gazetted forest reserves. Farmers with small pieces of land will now get an opportunity to plant more trees to increase

their benefits. “We were worried that the limited benefits from forests to the community would reduce community enthusiasm to participate in forest rehabilitation, but with the introduction of carbon money, there is hope to maintain the enthusiasm,” says Daniel Mbithi, the Assistant Director in charge of community participation. Ben Henneke, the President of I4EI says they have developed the monitoring technology for a long time and they will continue improving it. “Despite the fact that international carbon market is in a state of flux, the company will continue working on international carbon criteria along with developing or adopting methods to ensure securing potential REDD credits,” he says. He adds that it is clear that afforestation and reafforestation will be definitely in the United States GreenHouse Reduction plan. I4EI will work with farmers to capture the data accurately and present it in a transparent manner to potential carbon buyers and farmers. This creates trust, which is critical in carbon markets. Before they pay, the buyers want to be sure that the farmers plant the trees. Combining the use of Google Earth, mobile cell phones and GPS has made this possible. You can see the trees on the Google map and confirm the location of the trees with the help of GPS readings.

Miti July-September 2010

The youth in the area have taken up the programme with enthusiasm. TIST carries out regular leadership training of the local community. The youth leaving this training go out with an open mind. Some have taken advantage of the economic stimulus through Kazi kwa Vijana (KKV) to plant trees along riverbanks and registered the trees for carbon credits. They have double benefits since KKV programmes pay them to plant and maintain the trees for 40 days. In addition, once they register the trees for TIST support, not only will they continue getting a stipend, but also wait to sell the carbon in the international market. Youth Vision Group of Nanyuki has used this arrangement to rehabilitate close to one kilometre of River Sirimon at Kalalu village. They raised seedlings, which they sold to KKV, planted the same seedlings and are now paid to maintain the planted seedlings. They have registered the trees with TIST and uploaded the data on the web database. They hope to be paid the stipend as they wait for the international carbon market. The stipend for trees planted along the river is higher than trees planted on farms. The tree species have to be right for riverine planting. Syzygium guineense, Juniperous procera (pencil cedar) and Podocarpus species are among the

A high-potential area in central Kenya. An intimate mixture of trees, coffee and agricultural crops. Note the pollarding of Grevillea, to provide a fodder supplement for livestock in the dry season when other sources of fodder become scarce. Grevillea trees also provide valuable timber. Projects like TIST can stimulate more tree planting. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

most common seedlings planted recently along river Sirimon. There are plans to expand the programme to Mau and Tharaka. There are similar arrangements in Uganda, Tanzania and India. The company is ready to share the technology with any other institution interested in participating in carbon markets in the future. They are looking forward

to formally engaging with KFS to participate effectively in rehabilitating forest areas. The writer is a forests and environmental management specialist and Assistant Treasurer, Forestry Society of Kenya Email:

A creative force in forestry

SPGS links up Ugandan growers with sound commercial tree planting techniques


By Jan Vandenabeele

ganda is facing an acute shortage of timber due to lack of serious tree planting in the last few decades. Between the 1960s and the 1990s, not much planting took place, except for 12,000 hectares scattered in different central forest reserves all over the country, funded by Norwegian Aid. Efforts in forestry have traditionally been directed towards conservation of indigenous forests, while all the same they were supplying timber. This timber source is now depleted, and the shortage is biting - and growing - because of a booming construction industry and a fastincreasing population. In 2002-2006, the European Union started funding a conservation programme for Uganda’s indigenous forests, the Forest Resources Management and Conservation Programme (FRMCP). This was executed through the Ministry of Water and Environment, but soon it became clear that the best way to protect these forests was to establish new plantations. Indeed, by the end of the 1990s, Uganda did not have much left in terms of plantations that could be exploited commercially. Part of the money of the conservation programme went to the forerunner of Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS), the FRMCP, establishing some demonstration plantations. The full-blown programme started in 2004, with its first phase lasting up to 2009. The project was accepted as a separate entity, and not as basket funding, which has become popular with donors. The Chief Technical Adviser of SPGS is Paul Jacovelli, who received his forestry education in Bangor in Wales and Oxford in England. Afterwards, he was employed by the Commonwealth Development Corporation in Swaziland, managing commercial pine plantations for 12 years. It was a good place to learn the trade, as Swaziland is home to some


Paul Jacovelli, the Technical Adviser of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme, in his office in Kampala.

big plantations, where planting started 50 years ago on a big scale (160,000 hectares). Then he came to Uganda, to work in tree plantations of tea companies (the wood is used to cure the tea). Mr Jacovelli was well positioned to take up the challenge of commercial tree planting in Uganda, a country where ecological conditions are extremely conducive for high growth rates, but where sound and simple technical criteria for plantation establishment had been lost, and no contacts existed with modern developments of tree growing (cloning, improved seeds etc). Situated on the Equator, with rainfall of over 1,000mm per year in most of the country, deep soils and altitudes mostly ranging between 1,000-2,000masl, mean annual increment (MAI) of pines is among the highest in the world, at 20-30m3/ha/year. This is for improved seeds of Pinus caribaea var hondurensis, the product of an Australian breeding programme. These are costly seeds, but worth the money. For eucalypts, the MAI can even go to 60m3/ha/ year, especially for clones. However, Eucalyptus grandis can have impressive growth from improved seeds, imported from South Africa (and I think seeds produced by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute and used in tea plantations around Kericho are a very good deal too). Rotation lengths are equally impressive, with 20 years for pines, (Jacovelli thinks it might even be shorter, in the range of 15-18 years).

But that supposes the use of proper planting and maintenance techniques, improved seeds, the right species and good siting. If the planters get this right, bingo. It is a big economic advantage in a part of the world where existing timber reserves will be exhausted soon, and with a rapidly growing population in need of furniture and other timber products. Simultaneously, the policy of the newly formed National Forest Authority (NFA) allowed leasing of government land to private individuals for planting trees. SPGS started with a subsidy policy of granting approximately half of the cost of plantation establishment, which in Ugandan conditions was estimated at Ush 1,200,000 (about US$ 650) per hectare. (Later, it was realised that complete establishment costs could reach Ush 1.5 million.) The subsidy was disbursed in three instalments after site visits to check on fulfilment of criteria like the right seed and seedling source, proper land preparation, planting distance and technique. By the end of its first phase, SPGS had disbursed the grants to about 120 private planters to establish 10,000 hectares of plantations. A great deal of work had gone into research (which species for which areas, where to buy seeds, which nurseries could be accredited) and training, on proper seedling production and planting techniques. A key aspect of the latter was on the use of glyphosate to kill weeds competing with seedlings, as weeds grow vigorously in these ecological conditions. In principle, each farmer was visited at least

Miti July-September 2010

Paul Jacovelli explaining to Jan Vandenabeele of Miti magazine, the ecological background of the SPGS plantation clusters. (Photos: Better Globe Forestry)

twice a year, linked to the disbursements that are scheduled over a period of two to three years. With these results, SPGS managed to convince the European Union and Norway to fund a second phase, to run from 2009 to 2013. The planting target this time is 30,000 hectares, out of which about 24,000 hectares is already signed up. Training at various levels continues to be an important component – from glyphosate spraying to an annual tour of southern African plantations. Links are being set up with learning institutions like Makerere University, where a new course on commercial forestry will be offered. Some lecturers have signed up with SPGS and have become commercial tree growers. Cooperation with the Forest College in Nyabeya however is minimal, as the college’s approach to forestry is quite different. Sustainability The SPGS team has done a great deal of thinking on how the momentum it has built up with private growers can be sustained once this project ends. The most significant development seems to be the creation of the Uganda Timber Growers Association (UTGA), which bundles together the private growers that (mostly) have benefited from the grant scheme. (see article on UTGA in the next Issue of Miti). Profitability is a key issue here, and this in turn is heavily influenced by transport

Miti July-September 2010

costs. Hence, SPGS has taken to clustering its beneficiaries to create a critical mass for marketing. However, the idea came late, but tries to rectify the existing scattering towards more concentration in limited areas. Three of the clusters can count on the future establishment of a sawmill, due to the presence of large growers. One is The New Forests Company, around Namwasa Central Forest Reserve in Mubende; another is Global Forests Ltd (a German company in Hoima) and the third is Green Resources Ltd (Norwegian) in Mayuge. That still leaves other clusters in the cold. One possibility to cut down on transport costs is to convert saw logs in the plantation with mobile mills, though these are more wasteful than using fixed band saws. Chainsaw conversion is not encouraged as it is extremely wasteful. Another key element for sustainability is the training provided by SPGS on plantation establishment and management, to create “contractors” whose services can be hired for this kind of work. This had led to the creation of the Ugandan National Association of Forestry Services Providers. Dynamic evolution SPGS has its own dynamics, influenced and pushed through its close contacts with private growers. Interestingly, these are mainly not farmers but business people who simply see an opportunity for making money. Now that

SPGS’s first plantations (planted in 2004) have started producing poles and small-size trees through thinnings, the scheme has started offering a grant for pruning and thinning, both at US$ 50/ha. More emphasis has been put on research through cooperation with other entities like the Uganda Gatsby Trust that works with cloned eucalypts (hybrids between E. grandis, E. camaldulensis and E. urophylla). It can be said that SPGS reintroduced good concepts of plantation forestry into Uganda, and linked it up with commercial tree growing as it exists in southern Africa, at a time when the legal and economic environment was favourable. Three years from now, 40,000 hectares will have been established through SPGS’s grant system, while other growers will push this figure even higher. The creation of UTGA is definitely a coup, while the training and capacity building of many workers used as “contractors” will also have a positive and lasting influence. SPGS’s consultancy reports and its publication, Tree planting guidelines for Uganda, are quality products. A creative force in Ugandan forestry, SPGS has still three years left to consolidate its achievements and we wish the organisation well. The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry Ltd


Tree ‘Number One’ President Museveni leads the 31-million-tree campaign


By Moses Watasa

ith about 80,000 hectares of forest cover destroyed annually, some environmentalists have warned of an ecological implosion in Uganda. Disasters like floods and mudslides in parts of the country are the ”ammunition” for such forecasts of gloom. Such forecasts notwithstanding, the ominous projections should not blur our solid progress towards re-afforestation in Uganda. National Forestry Authority (NFA) is drawing a lot of inspiration for tree planting from the Ugandan leadership. In May 2010, President Yoweri Museveni planted tree “Number One” at State House Entebbe to launch a 31million-tree partnership between NFA and Nile Broadcasting Services (NBS). In early July, Vice President Gilbert Bukenya planted tree ”Number Two” at Kakiri in full endorsement of the NFA-NBS afforestation initiative. This high-level involvement in tree planting is not a sloganeering forum or a ceremony for the cameras. It is in fulfilment of the government’s commitment to ensuring

a clean and safe environment for Ugandans. For instance, the manifesto of 2006, (on page 55) reads in part, “…the NRM government will enforce a deliberate policy to effect afforestation on all bare hills in the country in a bid to protect our environment.” Apart from the 5,000 hectares planted by NFA annually, the government has provided an initial Ushs 1 billion for a separate community afforestation programme. In the March – May period, NFA raised 3,000,000 seedlings that have been offered for planting largely outside the Central Forest Reserves (CFRs). The programme’s emphasis is on planting endangered native species like mvule (Milicia excelsa), mahogany (various species) and Prunus africana. Apart from high conservation value indigenous trees, communities have been provided with fruit seedlings for agro-forestry. With the on-set of a dry spell, the programme is on hold and resumes in the August-October planting season. Another 3,000,000 seedlings are meanwhile being raised. To maximise participation, NFA has requested district

Dr Gilbert Bukenya, Vice President of Uganda, listens to explanations by Moses Watasa (National Forest Authority) during the planting of tree “number two” in Kakiri Forest, Wakiso district, as part of the 32-million tree campaign of NFA-NBS. (Photo: NFA)


councils to mobilise more communities for the next phases of the programme. The government has other afforestation programmes like the Farm Income Enhancement and Forest Conservation (FIEFOC) Project, which also provides free seedlings to communities. Corporate support remains crucial to hasten tree planting and close some of the reafforestation gaps in Uganda. To-date, MTNUganda, Barclays Bank, Kenya Commercial Bank, the British Council, Uganda Revenue Authority, World Vision and Posta Uganda have contributed significantly towards tree planting. Running for just two years, corporate support to NFA has enabled restoration of over 1,000 hectares in degraded CFRs. Ensuring that such noble tree-planting efforts are irreversible requires improvements in enforcement of the relevant forestry laws. NFA’s enforcement capacity is now improving, particularly with support from a new environment unit created under the Uganda Police. To complement law enforcement, there is need to extend incentives to communities for tree planting and forest conservation. A new programme, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation Will offer such incentives to deal with the underlying drivers of deforestation. With donor support, REDD will address issues like alternatives to wood fuel and other socio-economic causes of deforestation. Now at consulting stage (through NFA), REDD will provide possibilities to entrench tree planting and reverse deforestation. As such, projections of deforestationorchestrated armageddon in Uganda are rather premature. However, such forecasts can also be part of the rallying voices to keep our country green. The prospects for treeplanting and sustainable utilisation in Uganda are bright indeed. The eminent Ugandans who have planted trees “Number One” and “Number Two” are our best examples for the nation to emulate. We should jealously guard Uganda’s status as the beautiful “Pearl of Africa”. The writer is the Public Relations Manager, National Forestry Authority Email:

Miti July-September 2010

‘Trees for Health’ A school tree-planting AAR initiative to make basic health needs available to schoolchildren.

In the meantime, AAR, through its Trust, the AAR Beckmann Trust, has expanded its ‘Trees for Health’ programme by partnering with the Ministry of Health, Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, Greenafrica Foundation, Best Buddies Foundation and VAP (Vijani Amani Pamoja).

In the late 1990s, during one of the routine AAR health camps in a slum school in Mukuru, it was noticed that an enormous lorry arrived with firewood. No one had any idea where this wood originated and as the school needed firewood to cook food for its nearly 2,000 children, they did not ask questions. Mrs. Beckmann, Executive Director and AAR co-founder, suggested the school becomes self-sustainable and grows its own trees! The savings made could be used for the basic preventive health needs of the school, that is, regular deworming programmes, better diet and improving the toilet facilities.

‘Trees for Health’ programme - Outcomes • re-forestation • children are involved directly with preparation of the ground, therefore one creates a sense of the environment being part of their lives • providing for school energy needs • funds generated used for basic preventive health needs of the school children

A slum school, Our Lady of Nazareth (OLN) Mukuru Primary School jumped at the idea and now, some 12 years on, the school has planted over 9,000 trees – and more are planted each rainy season. The first five trees were harvested for firewood in December 2009 to cater for the school’s energy needs for the next six months. The first well organized de-worming was put in place – and the school paid for the pills.

Reliance on funding for the provision of health and on food aid is anything other than a very short-term crisis management measure. The only way to enable impoverished schools to stand on their feet in the long term is to promote selfsufficiency and alleviate poverty through homegrown resources. One of the most unpredictable, unaffordable, and devastating threats to the individual’s ability to look after himself is ill health. Without good health, a nation is impoverished, not just in the financial sense. AAR is working to mitigate this with its health preventive measures, which start of course at home, but should be encouraged to continue at school. The ‘Trees for Health’ project does just that: to encourage schools to become self sustainable for their own basic health needs. Miti ni mali!

OLN Mukuru Primary School in 1997 (above) and as it looks today, in 2010 (below). It’s all because of planting trees with a purpose!

AAR Holdings Ltd 2nd Floor, Williamson House 4th Ngong Avenue Nairobi, Kenya Tel: +254 20 2895000

The unsung star of the savanna woodlands

Properly nurtured, the shea butter tree could be turned into a gold mine


By Patrick Byakagaba

ganda, like most tropical countries in Africa, has a diverse vegetation. The areas covered by savannah woodlands, which some people refer to as “drylands” because they experience low and erratic rainfall and therefore cannot adequately support agricultural production, support one of the most ecologically and economically important indigenous fruit tree species, the shea butter tree. Among scientists, the tree is known as Vitellaria paradoxa. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has listed it as an important tree species in Africa. In Uganda, it can only be found in the northwest, midnorth and northeast of the country. A small, isolated population is found in Nakasongola district (central Uganda). Coincidentally, in Uganda, relatively large populations of this tree are only found in areas that have suffered insurgency for over 20 years. As such, the tree is very important as a livelihood option for people returning to their homes There has been no record of people planting this tree. Almost all populations in Uganda are wild although heavily influenced by human selection. Farmers across the shea belt selectively conserve large individual trees that can produce fruits whose nuts are processed into shea butter for domestic use and for household income. Both humans and animals eat the fruit pulp, while the butter


extracted from the seed kernel may be used for local consumption, manufacturing of body care products, and in the pharmaceutical and confectionery industries. The wood is used for charcoal, construction and furniture while the latex may be used in glue making. The shea butter tree also plays a role in amelioration of microclimate and soil nutrient recycling. As a perennial woody plant that sheds its leaves every year, it helps in nutrient recycling in the soil through decomposition of its leaves and fine roots. Compared to other woody plants, it has a slow rate of decomposition, suggesting a more long-term impact on soil fertility. The traditional process of making shea butter, which is the most important product, involves the following. Shea butter fruits that fall to the ground are picked, sun dried, depulped and kernels pounded using a mortar and pestle or a press. The fruits are later boiled and all the oil that settles on top is skimmed off and, after solidification, kept as butter. Most fruits will only have one or two kernels that are processed into butter. Currently, farmers throw away the “cake” that is left after processing. However, research shows that it can be useful as animal feed. The husks left after de-pulping are of no commercial value. However, farmers use them to line the inside of chicken houses. The butter has potential for export, considering that it has properties that make it suitable

The fruits of Vitellaria paradoxa or shea butter tree (karité in West Africa), contain a seed with a fat content of 50 per cent, used for cooking, in soap, ointment or cosmetics. (Photo: Patrick Byakagaba)

for use in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Currently, small farmer groups in northern Uganda and a few private companies export the product. Locally, people use the shea butter in their food and beauty products. In most villages in northern Uganda, shea butter is considered the best beauty product for children and women. The butter is also revered as a food supplement due to its organic nature and the flavour it gives food. Looking at some online shops for body care products reveals that a 100ml bottle of pure shea butter oil goes for 15 sterling pounds, yet this tree only grows naturally in 19 countries in the world. These are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo, Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Guinea. There is no doubt that the value of shea butter will continue to rise, due to ever-increasing benefits that research keeps unveiling. Despite the current and potential value of the shea butter tree, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN) the tree could become extinct in the near future. This situation has triggered extensive research on the species in recent years. For instance, studies have been conducted focusing on its ecology and growth under different conditions, distribution and spatial patterns

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in relation to farmers’ practices, seasonal variation of its phenology, impacts of land management regimes on its flowering, phenology and human influence on its genetic structure. In the quest for sustainable management of this tree, this writer is currently investigating how changes in selected environmental conditions (climatic and edaphic) will influence the population, phenology and fruit yield of the shea butter tree in the savanna woodlands of Uganda. Preliminary findings indicate that the population of this tree is threatened in Uganda due to low densities of juvenile trees in all the areas studied. Fruit yield occurs at around 15 years, seems to be cyclic and is influenced by climatic variations. The study is still going on and it is almost certain that models useful for the sustainable management of this important tree species will be generated. The writer is a PhD candidate and Assistant lecturer, Makerere University Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation.

A Vitellaria paradoxa tree in the savannah grassland in northern Uganda, standing in a cotton field. It looks like the tree might yield more money than the cotton.

The challenges of commercialising shea butter By Joshua J Ondyer


am Gwali, a Research Officer with Uganda’s National Forestry Resources Research Institute (NaFORRI) is using biochemical analysis to find out why people prefer particular varieties of the shea butter tree. This tree, whose fruit has a potential export value of US$ 118 million if properly harnessed, can have a great impact on the economy of Uganda. Today in Uganda, the trees grow widely, but most of them are old and very tall. Therefore, harvesting of the fruits is only done after the trees have fallen to the ground. This reduces the quantity and quality of the harvested fruits since some rot before their seeds are processed. Thus, commercialisation of shea better in Uganda is very low. In fact, people mostly use it at the domestic level while the little amount left over is converted to shea oil and sold in local markets, mostly by women and children. For this reason, all initiatives to conserve and propagate this tree are being targeted at women and children. In northern Uganda, the oil, locally known as moo-yao is mostly used in cooking. (Moo means oil and yao is the local name of the shea butter tree).

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According to Mr Gwali, West Africa has done a lot to produce this tree commercially. Long-time breeding processes (over 1,000 selections have been carried out) have resulted in trees that start fruiting after five years compared to the 20 years it takes in Uganda. The West African varieties are also short, allowing for easy harvesting. The shea tree is easy to graft, like mango, which explains the many different selections. Today in Uganda, purification of the oil is not done properly, leading to poor sales. Most of the shea butter products made in Uganda emit an unpleasant smell. However, a number of countries have shown interest in this tree. For instance, Israel is doing genetic studies on this tree due to the similarity of its oil to olive oil. French companies have also indicated an interest for use in cosmetic products. The West African variety turns into butter because it contains more stearic acid. This makes it a good substitute for cocoa in confectionaries. The Ugandan shea butter has more oleic acids and therefore liquifies at room temperature, making is useful in cosmetics. Challenges hindering optimal utilisation of

the species are both cultural and institutional. Cultural beliefs that hamper extensive commercialisation include: The traditional belief that when people die, they live in shea trees. Whereas the land might be owned individually, the trees are owned communally, so when fruits fall on the ground, you cannot stop anyone from taking them. On the other hand, some traditional customs show how deeply embedded the use of this tree species is in the areas where it grows. During marriage, its oil is presented to in-laws. The oil is also applied on newborn babies in the belief that it makes them healthy. Institutionally, the major challenge is lack of government support. According to Mr Gwali, Uganda has good trees, but serious efforts to exploit the tree commercially and sustainably have not yet been made. NAFORRI’s research might help to change this. The writer is the Editorial Coordinator, Miti Uganda. Email:


Heinsia crinata, the most spectacular of the flowering shrubs.

Blossoms of mbambakofi (Afzelia quanzensis), a hardwood tree much valued by Lamu woodworkers for traditional furniture, doors etc.

Psychotria punctata, one of the favourite nectar sources for coastal butterflies.

Growing a backyard forest The story of a coastal woodland that was grown from scratch

M By Will Knocker

any of the most valuable timber species take many years – often more than a single person’s lifetime to mature. The destruction of a forest, then, is very tragic indeed, because that forest can never be replaced as it is, especially in terms of its mature trees, some of which might be hundreds of years old. It is against this background, and with the ongoing destruction of many of Kenya’s forests, that I would like to tell the story of a forest that has been grown from scratch. My father, Roddy Knocker, bought a beach plot at Watamu at the coast, in 1963. The original owners had bought the plot in the 1950s and had cleared it of “bush” to mark out their property in what was then a veritable ocean of “bush”. How things have changed! Almost 50 year later, the “ocean of bush” has given way to property developments which threaten to eliminate the “bush” altogether! Beach plots at Watamu are about as unfavourable to tree-growing as you can imagine. Soil consists of thin red sand, the product of broken down limestone from ancient coral reefs. There are essentially two seasons – a wet season (kusi) lasting from April (if lucky) to August, and a long very hot season (kaskazi) from September to March which often causes major water stress to vegetation. My father planted coconuts on the plot in the 1960s and the trees were mature when my parents


retired to the coast in 1980. That same year, my father decided to let the natural vegetation return whilst at the same time beginning an intensive planting of trees in each rainy season (May). The main challenge was to create the conditions - and especially topsoil (humus) - to enable a forest to grow. This could only be achieved over the long term, echoing René Haller’s famous experiment in a similar coral-rag environment at Haller Park, Bamburi. Our plot is an interesting one, positioned as it is on the seafront and going back to a seasonal rain pan associated with Mida Creek at the back, so going from sea level, transecting dunes, which have built up over an old reef, to sea level again at the back, along the main road. We have seen some interesting changes to the various eco zones that exist on the plot. These are the ocean foreshore, a fearsomely salty zone right next to the high water mark; and the dune sector above the beach, where trees grow most easily owing to the water held in the sand. Then there is the dry coral rag bush zone behind the dunes and the wetland, with a high but saline water level adjacent to the main road to the west. The foreshore, consisting of white beach sand, the remains of millennia of molluscs and coral polyps crushed by the sea and bleached white by the wind and sun, has twice increased by at least 50 metres, the most recent event having been after the tsunami of 2005. Each time, the foreshore has

been colonised quickly by pioneer, necessarily saltresistant species such as casuarina and coconut. My father planted a barrier of casuarinas in the 70s, when we first “gained” beach, to protect the wind-swept dunes behind from salt spray generated at high spring tides. A very interesting variety of Indo-Pacific foreshore plants are found here, including Scaevola, Pandanus kirkii, Guettarda, Sophora, Thespesia populnea and Hibiscus tiliaceus, some of which were planted. However, high rainfall species, such as takamaka (Callophyllum inophyllum) from the Seychelles, quickly dried up and died in the dry conditions. On the dunes behind the beach, one finds classic evergreen dune-forest consisting of species such as Pycnocoma littoralis and Drypetes natalensis. These grew up well in the lee of the wind/salt barrier created by the wonderful Casuarina, which are not only salt tolerant (exuding salt solution from their leaflet ends) but also fix atmospheric nitrogen through a bacteria that grows in symbiosis with their root nodules. Behind the dune top, large trees grow well protected from the salty sea winds and feeding from underground moisture trapped in the dunes. Here grow Afzelia quanzensis – an important timber tree at the coast as its wood is used in the building of dhows, Mimusops obtusifolia, Drypetes reticulata and Tamarindus indica as well as doum palms –Hyphaene compressa. This eco-zone was largely

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A view of Watamu beach from the forest.

A young baobab (Adansonia digitata); a fast grower that can live for thousands of years.

(Photos: Will Knocker)

spared in the original clearing, so there are some very attractive mature trees here, all creating a dense green canopy where a troop of Sykes monkeys (Cercopithecus or guenons) roost at night. This was a zone best suited for growing trees. Lateral swales were dug horizontally along the back of the dunes to catch the meagre rainwater, which otherwise just ran off. Some of the interesting and little known species that have done particularly well in this zone are Lannea welwitschii, Sorindeia madagascariensis and Cordyla africana (the wild mango) all beautiful fruit bearing indigenous coastal trees. The biggest challenge was in the coral-rag bush zone, where lack of water and extreme heat in the kaskasi season conspired to kill all but the very toughest species. Here the bush (natural vegetation) was allowed to come in by itself though invasive species such as neem (Azadirachta indica) and mukingiri (Dicrostachys cinerea) were managed. The famous neem proved a mixed blessing. It was one of the first species to appear and is a very tough and drought resistant species that develops quickly into a large, handsome, leafy tree producing good mulch. However, it IS very invasive and will take over an area if left to it. Roddy Knocker was not a great tree expert when he started out and tended to plant anything he could get his hands on each year. The great lesson here was of indigenous versus exotics. Many exotics like Senna and Terminalia species were tried but the terrible constraints of water dependence were reached during the drought of 2005, when the forest was 25 years old and trees

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had grown into substantial saplings. Except for the leguminous and therefore soil improving Gliricidia sepium, whose leaves make a good nitrogen-rich mulch, all the other exotic species died. In this zone we have planted what has grown up to be the biggest type of forest enrichers -Acacia robusta, a quick-growing and massive acacia species. Here secondary species include Euclea and Grewia, which provided the shade and initial humus for the establishment of many of the primary species such as Drypetes and Mimusops, among many others. An interesting result was the planting and maturity of Prosopis, which, thank goodness, turned out to be a sterile hybrid not like the two Leucaena whose seedlings still appeared ten years after the parent trees were removed. Leucaena is an invader of note at the coast –DO NOT PLANT IT! Prosopis is good for the soil, very tough, and therefore ideal for the conditions … if sterile. Our forest is not yet mature but we now have over 250 species of trees, shrubs and lianas, not counting woody herbs, forbs and grasses! Along the seasonal water pan, we have grown mangroves such as the msikundazi – Heritiera littoralis and the puzzle–seed Xylocarpus granatum. Our forest is now 30 years old. The primary species - Mimusops, Drypetes, Afzelia, etc, are now healthy saplings three metres high, their crowns poking out from the secondary bush surrounding them. Underneath the canopy, at ground level, a thick layer of humus has been laid down over the years. So, a self-sustaining nutrient cycle has been

established, the limiting factor being the presence or absence of water, which cannot be easily evaporated owing to the canopy and which is soaked up and stored in the humus. The forest floor is alive with ants, including the nasty stag horn beetles (kata miti beetles) which cut off tree stems, especially Bombacacae, the bombax family. Whilst birds are not so common in the forest, all the representative species are found and as the forest matures, you can be sure more birds will be attracted to this prime habitat. We have planted plenty of Rutaceae species as butterfly larvae food and we expect our already large and diverse butterfly population to increase. Mammals to be found include giant rats amongst several different species of rodent, two species of mongoose, Sykes monkeys, bush squirrels and the diminutive suni - a pygmy antelope. Monitor lizards rush off across the forest floor and various snakes occur, especially the common speckled sand snake. The harmless and confiding red plated lizards are the most visible reptiles. To sum up the lessons of our 30-year experience of growing a forest: let nature get on with the process by letting native species grow. Do not burn, try not to disturb, minimise chemicals for a healthy forest and ENJOY! The writer is a keen conservationist, most interested in indigenous trees and shrubs. He lives on the edge of Nairobi National Park, whose attractions and challenges preoccupy him when he is not in the forest described in this article. Email:


Transport of cypress logs from a plantation to a plant (Timsales). (Photo: KFS)

Not yet out of the woods

Bulk tree product buyers have not embraced farm forestry as a reliable alternative to public forests


By Joshua K Cheboiwo1 and David Langat2

he Kenyan forestry sector is characterised by a shortage of wood and a rising demand for timber and other wood products in the construction and other sectors. Forest cover in Kenya, estimated at 2.5 per cent of the total landmass, is relatively small compared to international standards. This scenario is made worse by the rapid degradation of public forests. The proposed Forest Policy 2007 outlines activities to be undertaken by the government in collaboration with various stakeholders in promoting the development of farm forestry. Recent studies have shown that farmers are responding positively to these changes and many are taking trees as an important land use activity. The large round wood consumers in western Kenya have recently initiated a number of partnerships with tree growers in the region. This article documents existing partnerships and their experiences. The article was split into three. Part I - carried in Miti 5 - introduced the concept. Part II, in Miti 6, gave some examples of partnerships, while the last part, in this issue, deals with more examples and the lessons learnt.

FAN’s experiences with private partnership initiatives Forest Action Network (FAN) is a leading NGO working in natural resources management and the environment with a focus on forests. The Forest Policy and the Forests Act No. 7 of 2005 envisage and provide for partnerships in the


management of forests and in the growing of trees on private farms. In an effort to put to test the applicability of the provisions of the Policy and Act, FAN in 2006 initiated a tree-partner arrangement between the private sector, tree farmers and the civil society. The aims were to promote trees as an agricultural crop, providing material for forest based industries and creating jobs and incomes for rural communities. The farms were also to be used as pilot demonstration sites for individuals and communities interested in tree growing. FAN facilitated capacity-building and mobilisation of tree-growing farmers in six districts in western Kenya to form the Western Kenya Tree Planters Association WEPTA (see article in Miti 6) with the objective of entering into partnerships with Pan African Paper Mills (PPM) and other private companies to supply them with pulpwood and firewood. In 2006, FAN embarked on a pilot tree farmer out-grower scheme in six districts in the North Rift and western Kenya with the aim of linking tree growers to large consumers such as Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) affiliated tea factories and PPM. The pilot aimed at setting up 10 hectares of demonstration sites but that rose to 20 hectares by May 2006. Other initiatives that FAN started were facilitation of black wattle tree growers in North Rift and western Kenya (Lugari, Nandi South, Trans Nzoia and Uasin Gishu districts) to enter into partnership with the Kenya Vegext (EPZ) Ltd for supply of black wattle bark at better prices. Kenya Vegext (EPZ) Ltd was established in 2002 to manufacture vegetable tanning extract in powder

form and was experiencing a shortage of the raw material, wattle bark. The partnerships resulted in the supply of 60 tonnes of bark and an income of Ksh 180,000 to farmers in western Kenya. Criteria for selecting farmers FAN has drawn a list of criteria for selecting tree growers that include the following: proximity to a potential market (PPM or KTDA factory); willingness to place at least 0.2 hectares under trees; willingness to sign a partnership with FAN or the private sector; suitability of land for growing a selected tree species; availability of other land to grow food crops; and willingness to use the shamba system for the initial years of establishment. FAN – farmer contracts FAN has drawn an elaborate contract format that contains information on the tree species and whether it is in line with market demand. Farmers on the partnership must also allow other farmers and visitors to access the land planted with trees on notice; they must support land preparation and seedlings and use the shamba system to establish the trees. The farmer must let the trees remain in the farm until maturity and erect a partnership signpost on the farm, among other requirements. The contract documents contain details of district, division, location, size and elevation of land

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above sea level, as well as the geographical GPS coordinates. Lessons learnt It is possible to grow commercial trees on individual farms. It is expensive to grow trees on-farm due to high establishment costs. Promoters of tree growing should be prepared for new lessons in this area. There is need for a long-term funding mechanism for donors and the private sector to support farmers to grow trees.

Experiences on partnerships The sampled out-grower schemes and partnerships between farmers and the industry were still at an infancy stage. However, some lessons are already emerging. Among them: Most partnerships lack evidence of binding agreements and principles of engagement. Various problems frustrate supplies from scattered small-scale growers, including high transport and assembling costs for roundwood, cumbersome harvesting and movement permit requirements. The high costs of seedlings, establishment and extension services make most industries reluctant to enter into partnerships. Low quality seeds that result in low germination and poor quality seedlings. Standard measurements for industrial wood at farm level are lacking, hindering convergence in the bargaining process. The use of stacking is possible at farm level and at tea factories, but not for supplies to PPM, which uses tonnage. Most farmers are not conversant with the two methods and thus prefer sale by standing tree. High expectations from farmers and extension staff have proved expensive to meet.

Some farmers supplied with subsidised seedlings were reported to sell them instead of planting, thus defeating the purpose for the partnerships. No remedy exists for such actions. There is a general feeling among wood-based enterprises that the farmers’ roundwood is of poor quality due to poor adherence to conventional silvicultural practices, and hence likely to attract low prices. Roundwood supplies from farmers are irregular because most of the harvesting is done only during post-crop harvest season to avoid crop damage, and hence cannot provide continuous supplies to industry. The above-cited lessons have led bulk tree product buyers not to embrace farm forestry as a reliable alternative to public forests for the supply of tree products.Thus, there is need to provide solutions to the problems that hinder the stakeholders from entering into equitable and viable partnerships in farm forestry development. These partnerships are necessary for the farm forestry sector to access lucrative markets, competitive financial and technical services for high productivity and hence remunerative incomes from farm forestry enterprises.

Other partnerships and collaborative activities Farmers have other partnerships with various stakeholders in western Kenya to support tree growing and tree products marketing. The core partnership approaches between tree growers, industry and other stakeholders consisted of seedling subsidies, technical services, marketing facilitation, transport subsidies and market guarantees for tree products. At the lower end were leasing of land, joint woodlot development, licensing by public authorities and formation of tree growers associations.

Conclusions and recommendations The findings showed that there were scattered tree out-grower schemes in western Kenya, mostly at trial phases but which have shown potential to serve both tree growers and the industry. However, experiences point to high initial costs to the few institutions that support such initiatives. Though the provisional Forest Policy 2005 and Forest Act 2005 favour out-grower schemes, the two have not been operationalised and are grounded at the farm level. Experiences from other countries indicate that tree out-grower schemes have motivated a large number of farmers to plant commercial trees with varying problems and successes, mostly related to prevailing policies and legislation and local tree product demand and supply conditions. In India, companies experienced insecurity of supply because contracted growers sold to other buyers. There were also high loan default rates that made some companies alter their strategy to focus on supply of high quality seedlings. In South Africa, out-grower schemes that received credit, fertiliser and extension services were the most successful. This is because the farmers’ main concerns were access to credit, market guarantees, good prices, stable incomes, choice on the species to plant, their rights to determine when the trees are harvested and to whom they are sold, and the price paid for the trees. In India, laws that obliged companies to source roundwood from smallholder growers and restriction on access to public land are two critical factors that have encouraged partnership schemes and made farm forestry a viable land use in some states. From the cross-country experiences and findings from western Kenya, the government should enact farmer friendly policies and legislation in the production to consumption market value chain, so that smallholder growers can realise their enormous potential. These policies/regulations could include compelling large wood consuming industries to source a certain proportion of their roundwood from private sources, restricting land concessions to large forest based industries and encouraging partnership concessions where local farmers have a controlling stake. These conditions would encourage companies to enter into partnership arrangements with farmers and at the same time offer guaranteed markets and good prices to tree growers. 1 Principal Research Officer, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Londiani Regional Research Centre. Email: or jkchemangare@yahoo. com

The log yard of Pan African Paper Mills in Webuye. Since this wood is for pulping for different types of paper, the quality of the logs (knots, straightness, etc) is not important. Note the scarred logs on the foreground, salvaged from a forest fire. (Photo: KFS)

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2 Senior Research Officer, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Londiani Regional Research Centre. Email:


Charcoal bags in Mbeere district, ready for transport to an urban area.

There is money in charcoal

The sub-sector is more profitable than people think, and provides an economic alternative to fossil fuels By Fridah Mugo

Economic benefits of charcoal: The value of the charcoal market for 26 sub-Saharan African countries, for which there is known data, exceeds US$ 1.8 billion per year. Charcoal production and trade contributes to the economy by providing rural incomes, tax revenue and employment. It also saves foreign exchange that would otherwise be used to import fuel. In the Licuati region of Mozambique, for example, 65.4 per cent of rural incomes are derived from charcoal. In Kenya, the annual consumption of charcoal has been estimated at 2.4 million tonnes (Republic of Kenya, 2002) valued at Ksh 36 billion. The 2005 Energy for Sustainable Development Africa (ESDA) National Charcoal Survey estimates the figure to be 1.6 million tonnes worth Ksh. 32 billion. The Baobab Farm in Mombasa, Kenya, has reported twice as much income when wood is converted to charcoal, compared to when it was sold as fuel wood. The pattern is similar in the other countries in the region. In Uganda, charcoal production provides about 20,000 jobs and generates more than Ush 36 billion (US$ 20 million) a year for rural populations. Charcoal making provides a considerable amount of employment in rural areas; it allows for a quick return on investment and is often practised in conjunction with agricultural activities. The production, transportation and marketing of charcoal for cooking creates the biggest number of jobs per tera joule of


energy when compared to electricity, LPG, across different sectors, making it difficult for and kerosene, which are estimated at 200- their provisions to be enforced. In addition, 300; 80-110; 10-20 and 10 respectively. In even when there are sufficient provisions, Kenya, the industry is estimated to employ implementation tends to depend largely 700,000 people directly and supports another on the political goodwill of those in office, three million dependants. However, despite hence limiting the effectiveness of the policy its significant contribution, charcoal has been and legal provisions. Sudan, for instance, has had specific kept out of the formal economies of these countries, mainly because its importance is legislation governing the charcoal industry and the sector has performed well. Since 2004, not well understood and appreciated. Despite its negative image, there is Kenya has formulated quite an impressive array no doubt that the charcoal trade will not of policy and legal instruments, which target stop. Instead, it will remain the main and, the overall management of the environment in some cases, only source of energy for and attempt to tackle issues in the energy millions of people in the region for a long sector. For instance, the Environmental time to come. Considering the increasing Management and Coordination Act of 1999, distance from market to source, J. A. Fuwape the Energy Sessional Paper No. 4 of 2004 and in a 1993 study found that on the basis of the Forest Act of 2005 provide for promotion physical and combustion-related properties of tree growing for energy and efficient of charcoal and fuel wood, charcoal was utilisation of the same. In addition, the recently released charcoal considered better. Another wood fuel study by Christophersen A. Kjell and others in subsidiary legislation provides regulations for Niger in 1988 concluded that charcoal is a enforcement of the policies. Specifically, the technically and financially feasible energy Energy Policy seeks to promote cultivation of option, but should be produced under a long- fast-maturing tree species; gives 10-year tax term scheme to ensure a Table 1: Economic cost of charcoal – one cubic metre of wood (5.3 bags) sustainable supply. Activity Cost (Ksh) Estimated Cost/Bag (Ksh) Tree growing 396 75 Policy and legal Kiln construction 104 20 status: In many Harvesting cost 205 39 countries of subOperational cost 56 11 Saharan Africa, policies Handling cost 63 12 and laws relating to Store and stock 18 3 wood management for Total cost 842 159 energy are scattered Source: Kakuzi Report 2003

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holidays to producers, and asks the state to issue 20-year leases on its land for commercial production of woodfuel. There has also been institutional transformation of Kenya’s Forest Department to Kenya Forest Service, a semiautonomous institution that is expected to be more effective. Now that the policies and legal environments are conducive for profitable production of charcoal, all the key stakeholders including the private sector should consider serious investment in the sector. This includes investment in sustainable management of the natural woodlands, establishment of community, public and private sector commercial plantations and smallholder woodlots. Profitability of the sub-sector: As reported by one of the key charcoal producers in Kenya, charcoal is a profitable enterprise even when the charcoal is manufactured from wood grown in woodlots or plantations. For example, as indicated in Table 1, in an analysis conducted by Kakuzi Ltd in 2003, the total cost of producing one bag of eucalyptus charcoal was reported to be Ksh 159. The farm-gate selling price was Ksh 260. Transportation to the main market (Nairobi) cost Ksh 50 per bag. The retail price was Ksh 350; therefore, the margin for the trader was Ksh 90 per bag. In this case, the producer got a profit of Ksh 100 for every bag of charcoal, while the trader also got a reasonable income from the same. A similar analysis of charcoal yields from Acacia mearnsii in the former East African Tanning and Extract Company (EATEC) farm in Eldoret reported a charcoal yield of 245 bags per acre after seven years from a 2m x 2m spacing woodlot and using a 30 per cent efficiency kiln. Using the same farm gate price of Ksh 260, this gives a return of Ksh 63,700 per acre for the producer. The wood not suitable for charcoal is used as fuel wood.

Four-year- old Acacia polyacantha in Nyanza Province, grown for charcoal production. However, at this age, the trees are not yet fully mature for charcoal, and a waiting period of a further two years is recommended. (Photo: KEFRI)

Investing in the charcoal sub-sector: In a bid to produce charcoal sustainably to meet rising demand, countries such as Brazil and Sudan have set up large plantations in low-population areas and under-utilised land. Many developing countries are also promoting the making of charcoal briquettes from biomass waste. Developing countries should seriously consider investing in the charcoal sector for sustainable supply. For Kenya, those wishing to grow trees in woodlots, plantations or even farm boundaries can be assured that if proper management of the trees is applied, they can

A half-orange brick kiln for charcoal production, with logs of Acacia xanthophloea piled in front of it. The acacia wood comes from a plantation and is six years old. (Photo: KEFRI)

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get sufficient returns to their investments. The species to be considered for charcoal include all the acacias, although the fast growing ones to be given priority are Acacia xanthophloea, Acacia polyacantha, Acacia kirkii, Acacia gerrardii, Acacia seyal and Acacia mearnsii. Other species include Casuarina equisetifolia, Terminalia brownii, Combretum species, Croton megalocarpus, Eucalyptus maculata, E. camaldulensis, E. paniculata, Senna spectabilis and Croton macrostachyus. Seeds for all the species can be obtained from the Kenya Forestry Research Institute. One way of ensuring wide scale growing of trees for charcoal is to have charcoal producer associations formed in all the charcoal growing areas probably at the sublocational level. Each association could then have a charcoal buying centre in each sublocation similar to the tea buying centres. All the charcoal produced in the sub-location could be sold at these centres. The association could then sell to transporters. This would minimise the exploitation by middlemen and result in a win-win outcome for all the value chain actors. The writer is a lecturer – Environmental Planning and Management, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Nairobi. Email:


Against the current

Unorthodox eucalypt management techniques create fat profits for Kitui farmers


By Jan Vandenabeele

itui district is best known as semiarid, and does not strike one as having something like “highlands”. But, as Einstein said, “all is relative.” In this case, the existence of a hill complex north of Kitui town rising up to a maximum of 1776 masl, with rainfall corresponding to a semi-humid zone, around 900-1000mm/year, and belonging to the agro-ecological Upper Midland zone, is certainly akin to highland conditions, compared to the dry and hot lowlands that surround it from all sides. A good indication of climatic conditions is given by the fact that the area is a sugarcane and banana-growing zone. This is where in 1951-52, within the framework of the ALDEV programme (African Land Development Board), the colonial authorities introduced Eucalyptus saligna plantations on some hilltops like Museve and Kyawea, with standard spacing of 2.3x2.3m to 2.5x2.5m. The favourable environment eventually produced big trees, for which no market was found. At the same time, access roads are steep and of poor quality due to the slopes and the abundant rainfall. Local farmers watched all this happen, and noticed that the demand for withies, sticks and poles, among others used for scaffolding in the construction industry, was high. By the end of the 1960s, the farmers had concluded that small planting distances could do the trick to grow this type of wood, and that repeated coppicing of the eucalypts did not seem to exhaust the soil, neither significantly increased the mortality of the stumps. However, this only worked when the cutting was made at least one foot above the soil with a panga, making a cut as clean as possible. “Coppicing” is the forestry term used to designate the cutting of a tree to induce the sprouting of new shoots. Coppicing is a commonly used management technique in growing eucalypts. After allowing the tree to grow a couple of years and establishing a solid root system, it is cut, the stem is sold and the remaining stump regenerates a dense number of shoots from which the grower selects one to three that remain while eliminating the rest. These shoots or coppice quickly become big, as the root system is already established and mature enough to supply nutrients for all of them. Therefore, the time the coppice needs to become as big as the original stem is in fact shorter.


The Assistant Zonal Forester of Kitui, Kenneth Riungu Muthuri, standing at a roadside loading site of eucalypt poles. Each pole goes for Ksh 50, and harvesting is year-round. (Photo: Better Globe Forestry)

In an industrial plantation, the coppicing is done after a clear felling over a large area, like some tens of hectares, to facilitate the marketing of a big volume of wood and to create homogeneous working conditions. Small holders will not do clear felling, but practise a rotation of uneven-aged trees all mixed in the same area. They select individual trees, scattered around the plantation, cut them and let them re-grow. This is what a number of farmers in Kitui’s Central Division started doing, with a twist. People like Julius Mbila Nzoo, chairman; Victor Musili Ngambe, secretary; Theresa Angeti, treasurer; and members Erastus Musaki and Martha Muthui of the self-help group Miti ni Maisha; are growing eucalypt plantations with a spacing of 2ftx1ft (equivalent to roughly 55,000 seedlings/ha). And surprisingly, it works; to an extent. The weakness of the system was exposed during last year’s exceptional drought. But more on that later. In the meantime, these and other farmers have been busy selling sticks, poles and withies to an ever-increasing market. Typically, a small pole of 6-7cm diameter (DBH) and a height of 5m, is harvested 14-20 months after planting the seedling, and is sold for Ksh50 per piece. Buyers are allowed access to the plantation, which can be anything between one and 20 acres, and chose the stems with the dimensions they want. It is important to note that, at establishment,

the trees do not grow uniformly, although they are all planted at the same time. This is due to genetic differences, the quality of the individual seedlings, as well as site micro-variations in soil, moisture and nutrients. So, 14-20 months after the planting, the stem diameters vary between 2 and 7-8cm, and the height between 4-7m. The resulting sticks and poles are extracted to the roadside, debarked and quickly dispatched to Kitui town, Yatta, Machakos and even Nairobi. After one year, the same stump that was cut can be harvested for a new pole. And in between, each month some more sticks grow into a merchantable size and are consequently harvested. The farmers claim that plantations stay productive for up to 40 years. Moreover, and this makes sense, they say that their eucalypt plantations limit erosion. True, as the soil is not bared at any moment, but stays covered with trees. Therefore, the trees intercept the rain at canopy level. Another claim is more complex, notably that their plantations increase soil fertility. The farmers derive this from observing growth of maize after finally clearing an exhausted coppice forest. All tree species do indeed transfer nutrients from deeper soil layers to the surface, thanks to their root systems penetrating metres inside the ground. The nutrients make the tree grow, including the leaves that are systematically

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shed as the tree matures. The fallen leaves increases organic matter in the upper soil layer, which partly gives origin to humus or so-called forest soil, with good fertility. However, one would expect some exhaustion of certain nutrients in general in the Kitui woodlots, as no fertiliser is applied and continuous export of nutrients takes place, through harvesting and removal of poles. It is not possible to certify the claim of increased fertility during a short field visit, but it might be a possibility, at least regarding organic matter in the topsoil layer. It is however obvious that this management system, with very few inputs but which gives results for up to 40 years, is far more profitable than growing agricultural crops like maize (see box “Some educated guesses about costs and benefits”). Indeed, inputs are minimal. No fertiliser or insecticide against termites is applied. Neighbouring farmers have joined the above mentioned self-help group, and have increased the acreage under eucalypt. A

short glance around the hills illustrates the point. More and more space is occupied by young eucalypt stands, all incredibly densely planted. The self-help group wants to put more hilltops under eucalypt, to create a better ecological environment and create more employment. As land prices have reached levels of Ksh 200,000 per acre, acquisition of more land is not an option for most members and they satisfy themselves by converting more of their land into eucalypt plantations. Certainly, there is room for improvement in their business model. For instance, the members could jointly buy a light truck to market the sticks and poles by group members instead of selling to the current brokers. The farmers would earn more for the poles, which sell at Ksh100 to Ksh120 in Kitui market and Ksh 250 in Nairobi. The group has been exploring this possibility with local credit organisations. At the end of the visit, Mr Nzoo the chairman insisted we see part of his property, where a young plantation of E.

A young eucalypt grove in a valley bottom. Note the very high planting density.

Some educated guesses about costs and benefits Cost per seedling (produced in Swaziland beds without plastic bags, farmers’ estimate) ~ Ksh 1.50 Number of seedlings per ha, at planting distance of 0.3x0.6m ~ 55,000 Cost of seedlings/ha ~ Ksh 82,500 Other establishment costs - land clearing, marking, pitting and planting ~ variable, but over Ksh 40,000 First-year mortality of seedlings (termites and other) ~ 20% Remaining productive seedlings/ha ~ 45,000 Availability of first crop (5-7cm DBH and 5-7m high): 14-16 months after planting, at 3% of total trees ~ 1,350 poles First income at 14-16 months after planting @50Ksh/pole ~ Ksh 67,500/ha After that, a similar amount every couple of months, for at least 20 years and then gradually declining towards end of crop at 40 years Maintenance costs are minimal (no fertilising, no replanting, no pest and disease protection) and mostly for coppice management (cleaning and selecting shoots) Comparison with maize Yield varies with inputs and rainfall, between 500 and 1500kg/ha Price per bag (90kg) assumed at Ksh 2,000 Seasonal income ~ Ksh 11,000 – Ksh 33,000/ ha Costs - ploughing, labour for sowing and harvesting and inputs (seeds, insecticide, fertiliser) saligna perished last year (see photo). He attributed it to the then prevailing and exceptionally severe drought; though surrounding stands survived and continued to grow normally. We agreed with him, observing that the site – a valley bottom along an east to west axis - traps more heath than the surrounding slopes, resulting in higher transpiration rates from the eucalypt leaves, having them finally drying as the soil moisture retention was stretched to the limit. In all likelihood, wider spacing (like 1x1m) and a correspondingly more voluminous root system would have prevented this and the trees would have survived. However, as Mr Nzoo noted, such droughts only occur once every 7-10 years, enough time to make money from densely planted seedlings. Then comes the exceptional drought and the trees die; well, he will replant. (However, planting fewer seedlings would also save money.) Even so, Mr Nzoo is convinced that this is much more profitable than growing maize or other food crops, a statement with which all farmers present unanimously agreed (see box, “Comparison with maize”). The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry Ltd Email:

But this can happen in extremely dry years … (Photos: Better Globe Forestry)

Miti July-September 2010


A plantation of The New Forests Company Ltd in central Uganda. Main species are Pinus caribaea var hondurensis and Eucalyptus grandis.

A 25-month-old trial plantation of eucalypt. Growth rates are very high due to the high rainfall.

Looking to the future The New Forests Company plants trees today for tomorrow By Joshua Ondyer

In May 2009, NFC received the Forest Stewardship Council Certification on two of its three plantations in Uganda, an important indicator of the sustainable way in which NFC deploys its resources. 28


he New Forests Company (NFC) is a profit oriented forestry company operating in sub-Saharan Africa to supply sustainable value-added timber products to local and regional markets. The company has adopted a triple-bottom line approach, prioritising conservation, community development and commercial profitability. Apart from Uganda, the company has branches in Mozambique and Tanzania and is exploring opportunities in other East and southern African countries for expansion in 2010-2011.

In Uganda, The New Forests Company started operations in 2005 and quickly became the biggest private commercial tree planter in the country with over 8,000 hectares planted to date. The majority shareholder in The New Forests Company Uganda Limited is New Forests Company Holdings UK Ltd, while East African Development Bank has 1 per cent shareholding. According to Meredith Bates, the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, in 10 years the timber and wood shortage in Uganda will be severe. This is because over 95 per cent of Ugandans use trees for charcoal and firewood and because mature timber plantations are almost nonexistent. For this reason, NFC’s guiding principle is to reduce dependency on natural forests and sustainably utilise the environment in a responsible and commercially viable way. The drive towards commercial profitability is in full gear. NFC has leased land from private individuals and obtained licences from the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to plant Central Forest Reserves to ensure it achieves its goal of 26,000 hectares of sustainably planted timber trees in Uganda. By the end of

Miti July-September 2010

Part of The New Forests Company’s corporate social responsibility programme; construction of schools in the plantation’s environs.

…and inside a classroom at the school. (Photos: The New Forests Company)

this year, NFC will have planted 9,400 hectares of this target. The company is looking for large tracks of land all over the country to meet this target. In Uganda currently, NFC’s plantations are in Namwasa in Mubende, Luwunga in Kiboga and Kirinya in Bujiri. NFC would be interested in exploring land in northern Uganda but has decided to delay this expansion due to the communal land tenure system in use in the area. Trees are a long-term investment. Some tree investors are discouraged by the long periods required before an investor records revenues, not to mention a profit. The New Forests Company, in a bid to generate early revenue as well as add value to its products, commissioned a pole treatment plant in Mityana District in April 2010. The plant, with a capacity to treat 120,000 poles annually, will reduce the cost of importing poles from South Africa or as far as Paraguay, thus reducing the cost of rural electrification, as well as generate much needed revenues to finance the running of the company. This is apart from creating employment, among other benefits. On the social responsibility front, The New

Miti July-September 2010

Forests Company has made big leaps already. The company has built a secondary school, Forest High School, constructed six primary school double classroom blocks and supplied more than 150 desks. Surely, the communities around the NFC plantations have reason to smile. NFC fully understands the concept that a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. Therefore, peer education, health fairs, HIV/ Aids counselling and testing are provided to ensure that the beneficiaries fully optimise the education offered. NFC is also currently constructing private clinics on its plantations for its workers to receive quality health care services to improve productivity, morale and retention. NFC also subsidises seedlings for the communities, provides technical advice to the out-growers and guarantees them competitive markets for their products, to ensure improved livelihoods in the surrounding communities. The company will also begin a bee-keeping programme in August as another way to help farmers in the neighbourhood of the plantations. Now, NFC has constructed 135 kilometres of forest roads to improve transport and ease of access

across the plantations. On top of all that, over 1,380 jobs have been created in Uganda alone. In every plantation, NFC has set aside conservation zone where the area’s flora and fauna is conserved. Each of these conservation areas has a conservation plan, which is readily available on the NFC website. In badly degraded natural forests, NFC has done enrichment planting in the company’s conservation areas. Indigenous species such as musizi (Maesopsis eminii), mvule (Milicia excelsa), indigenous fig and indigenous yellow wood, among others, are planted to counter the possible effects of their foreign commercial species. However, industry standards are increasingly moving away from enrichment planting in conservation areas and instead promoting natural regeneration. In May 2009, NFC received the Forest Stewardship Council Certification on two of its three plantations in Uganda, an important indicator of the sustainable way in which NFC deploys its resources. However, like any good cause, challenges exist. The major one experienced in the last one year has been illegal encroachment on the Central Forest Reserves that NFC was licensed to plant. According to unverified information, encroachment currently stands at 800,000 in the 506 forest reserves nationwide. Although the Namwasa plantation has eradicated encroachers, some illegal cultivation continues in unplanted areas of the Luwunga plantation. NFA has made significant progress in dealing with encroachment in the last year, and looks forward to using the voluntary vacation processes at Namwasa and Luwunga as a model for dealing with encroachment in other areas around the country. Another challenge identified by Ms Bates is opportunists who extort money from the encroachers, promising to get them legally settled. This is a heart-breaking story. Instead of using the money to move off the land and establish themselves elsewhere, encroachers end up paying these instigators and then have to move off the land subsequently when the relevant authorities like NFA become involved. NFC co-operates with other forest entities such as the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS). The latter offers NFC technical advice as well as funding on some of the plantations. NFC is also working with SPGS to uplift its commercial out-grower programme. The writer is the Miti Editorial Coordinator, Uganda. Email:


Eucalypt plantation owned by a tea estate in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province. The biomass will be used either for firewood (curing tea) and/ or for electricity poles. Standing volume is very high, over 500m3/ha by 10 years of age. This is among the highest growth rates in the world, even competing with clonal material. (Photo: KFS)

What is more profitable?

Comparing the commercial growing of Eucalyptus grandis and agricultural crops in western Kenya By Joshua K Cheboiwo1 and David Langat2


ucalyptus was introduced in Kenya between 1903 and 1906 to provide firewood for steam engines that were used for rail transport. In Kenya, over 20 eucalyptus species have been introduced and of these E.grandis and E. saligna are grown on a large scale in public forest plantations, farms and tea estates mostly for firewood and power transmission poles. The principal planting areas are in the highlands between 1,800m and 2,700m in altitude and with a rainfall of 750 to 1,800mm per year. Eucalypts are the preferred tree species by farmers because of fast growth, good stem form, coppicing ability, reasonably durable wood, tolerance to water logging, multipurpose use, ready markets for its products and easy workability. Tree growing by farmers is rising and it is important that these efforts be supported through clear incentives and the provision of relevant information (technical, economical). Recent studies by KEFRI covering four types of farm forestry enterprises (sawlogs, transmission poles, charcoal and construction pole production) showed all were financially viable investments, but due to long waiting periods, were inferior to competing agricultural enterprises except for transmission poles.


Eucalyptus production costs and benefits The costs for eucalyptus enterprises were obtained from KEFRI’s experimental records and from tea companies in Kericho and Nandi districts. Data included seedling purchase, land preparation, planting, tending and harvesting. The costs were mostly labour related and in a few cases tractor ploughing and use of chemicals in pest and weed control. Harvesting costs were factored at Ksh 220/m3 based on experiences from tea estates in Kericho. Similarly, data for competing crops were obtained from the Tea Research Foundation (TRF) and district agricultural offices. Calculations for the benefits from eucalyptus as well as from maize and tea agricultural enterprises were based on current prices. For comparative analysis, a discounting procedure was used to equate tree-based and agricultural enterprises.

Some assumptions for the determination of specific costs and benefits Current and future stumpage prices The current analysis used field stumpage prices; that is, sold as standing timber. Tree stumpage price is affected by demand and supply; the location of the stand and the tree species under consideration. For this analysis, we have used stumpage prices advised by

the Forest Department General Order No. 252 (2005/6; M.E.N.R. 2005) for plantations for sale by volume revenue estimates. The prices for firewood and pole wood were based on 2005 market surveys in Western Kenya (Cheboiwo, 2008). To ease calculations, we assumed a constant stumpage price over the investment period. Cost of capital and labour The current prevailing prices of farm inputs and labour are assumed to be actual market prices and not distorted. The average market prices of input and labour are therefore used in investment analysis and are assumed to apply throughout the investment period. Opportunity cost of land The land value in Kenya is highly developed and the market price in terms of lease or sale is the actual cost of land. For purposes of economic evaluation, the opportunity costs of land have been estimated from the value of accruals if the land used for woodlots could be used for the highest earning competing agricultural crops such as maize and tea. Yield calculations The volume of wood that can be achieved from 1 hectare of land during a given period

Miti July-September 2010

depends on many factors, namely; site quality, quality of seedlings, silvicultural operations, competition and use of fertilisers to increase soil fertility. Data obtained from Sotik Tea Company Estates was entered into the yield model on young Eucalyptus grandis (Kiriinya, 2004). The study assumed a spacing of 2.5m x 2.5m (1,600 plants per hectare) commonly used by tea estates. No intermediate thinning is undertaken until clear felling. Afterwards, two stems are left per stump, in any coppice cycle. The volume of wood obtained in any coppice cycle is equivalent to a single rotation of eight years. It has been observed that a eucalypt coppice crop yields 25 per cent more than the first single crop and afterwards experiences a gradual decrease in yields. In this analysis, we have assumed that the same volume as from a seedling crop is attained at seven years of a coppice crop. Taxation The income from tree growing is tax exempt. Therefore, the revenue from eucalyptus is not taxed.

Evaluation criteria Many financial evaluation methods are used to test the viability of woodlot investments on farms in western Kenya but for simplicity, only two were considered for the current work: Net Present Value (NPV) and Equal Annual Equivalent (EAI). Net Present Value (NPV) The Net Present Value is the present value of all benefits (revenues) less the present value of costs. Net present value uses a discount rate that is taken to be the cost of borrowing investment money for long-term projects. The discount application equates the future stream of costs and benefits that occur over the investment period to the present day values for comparative analysis with short rotation competing crops. The same is done using standard mathematical equations commonly used by economists in land use financial valuations. Equal Annual Equivalent (EAE) When comparing land uses that have different investment time periods (e.g. maize is harvested annually, while tea and eucalyptus are harvested after several years), we need to have a common analysis period. The equal annual equivalent formula combines all costs and benefits into a single sum that is

Miti July-September 2010

Table 1: Growth and yield data for Eucalyptus grandis, Kericho, Kenya Age (years)

DBH (cm)

Height (m)

Volume/ tree (m3)

Volume /ha (m3)

Mean annual increment (MAI) (m3/ha)























































equivalent to all cash flows during an analysis period spread uniformly over the period. It is an annual payment that will pay off the NPV of an asset during its lifetime. The same is done using standard mathematical equations commonly used by economists to determine EAE for various investment projects.

Growth and products of E. grandis in western Kenya Growth The study revealed that in Kericho, fiveyear-old E. grandis from various selected plantations attained an average of 12.2cm diameter at breast height (DBH) and a height of 13.2m. The growth rate between five and 13 years varied between sites but knew an average of 1.9cm diameter per annum and 2.2m in height, with best performing stands attaining an average DBH of 4.5cm and 5m in height, in less than seven years. The average desired poles for construction are between 5 and 8cm DBH and a height of 8 to 10m. Thus, the sizes for construction poles are attained between ages 2.5 and 3.5 years, which is less than those shown in the tables below. The sizes for transmission poles are between 22 and 25cm DBH, attained at 10-12 years. However, the best performing stands attain the same between 6-8 years. Volume growth showed that at five years, individual trees were estimated to contain 0.09m3 per tree, translated to 151.8 m3 per hectare. The volumes per tree increased by an average of 0.07m3 per year and volume per hectare by 104m3 per year. At 13 years, the volume per tree on average stood at 0.66m3 and volume per hectare was 985m3.

The mean annual increment in volume (MAI) measures actual volume increase per hectare during subsequent years that varied but showed a consistent increase from 30.4m3 for 4-5 years to 75.8m3 for 12-13 years. This indicates that growth was still on the upward trend and hence it pays to maintain the stand in production for the coming years until the rate starts to stagnate or falls, keeping the time factor for money out of the decision making process. Products The eucalyptus enterprises in western Kenya yield various produce for own consumption and sale. These products can be sold in various forms ranging from standing trees and single poles to processed products such as firewood stacks and sawn wood (running lengths). In this article, we only deal with farm gate products that are sold as standing volume and poles. The rotations for eucalyptus products are evaluated for single rotations or multiple rotations under a coppice regime.

Financial returns to single and multiple rotations of E. grandis Using the volume and single pole sale methods while varying the discount rates, the two financial methods realised the returns shown in Figure 1. The incomes show variations with age and discount rates. There was a progressive decrease in value across the three ages with increasing discount rates. This is consistent with the principle of time value of money, which results in diminished returns for longer time horizon.

Table 2: NPV and EAE for single harvest rotation at 8, 9 and 10 years at different discount rates using sale by volume method Age (yrs) 8



Evaluation criteria

Discount Rate (%) 8




Net Present Value





Equal Annual Equivalent





Net Present Value





Equal Annual Equivalent





Net Present Value





Equal Annual Equivalent






Table 3: NPV and EAE for multiple harvests rotation to three coppice rotations at 29 years at different discount rates using sale by volume method Evaluation criteria Net Present Value Equal Annual Equivalent

Discount Rate (%) 8 12 750,717 449,602

16 237,991

20 139,772





Table 4: Summary of NPV and EAE for different eucalyptus enterprises Enterprise

Evaluation criteria (‘000) in Ksh

Sale by volume (10) Pole wood (10) Pole wood (29) Pole wood +firewood (29) Firewood (10)

NPV 72-292 130-565 208-1,020 40-400 32-234

showed a similar trend as shown in Table 3. The same calculations done for other eucalyptus products for single and multiple rotations with varying discount rates follow similar trends as shown in EAE methods (Figure 1). The financial returns for various eucalyptus enterprises ranged from low priced firewood to high demand transmission poles. The sales methods also influence income levels as shown by sale by volume that for age 10 varied from Ksh 72,000 to Ksh 292,000 and Expected Annual Equivalent (EAE) from Ksh 18,000 to Ksh 48,000 as compared to single pole sales that ranged from Ksh 130,000 to Ksh 565,000. Figure 1: Variation of EAE for various eucalyptus enterprises with discount rates (10sh ~ single harvest at 10yrs; mh29 ~ multiple The multiple rotation ages harvest through repeated coppicing at 29 yrs) also generated comparatively higher incomes as compared 170000 to single rotation due to Firewood10sh the coppicing ability of 150000 eucalyptus, meaning there is Firewoodmh29 no new establishment costs. Polewood10sh 130000 This is established by returns Polewoodmh29 for multiple rotations that ranged from a Net Present 110000 Firewood+PolewoodMh29 Value of Ksh 32,000 to Ksh 1.02 million at high and low 90000 discount rates. Annual returns range from Ksh 7,700 to Ksh 70000 38,000 for single harvest firewood at 10 years to Ksh 50000 163,000 for pole wood at three coppice cycles to 29 30000 years (Table 4). Even at high discount rates, the eucalyptus 10000 growing returns are positive and it makes business sense 0.08 0.12 0.16 0.20 -10000 for investors to enter the sector. EAE (Ksh)

The NPV and EAE progressively decrease with age at the varied discount rates. As the interest rate (discount) increases, the NPV and EAE will decrease. Based on this analysis, it is worth noting that investing in tree growing returns a positive value. Even at a high discount rate, the NPV is positive, which indicates that the rate of return to eucalyptus growing is beyond 20 per cent. Even when the opportunity cost of land is taken into consideration in the analysis, there is still a positive return at 20 per cent and this shows eucalyptus as a viable investment (Table 4). Multiple rotations under volume methods

-30000 Inte re st rate

Table 5: Net present value of maize growing at three input levels in a typical maize growing area Level

Evaluation criteria

Low Medium High

Net Present Value /ha Net Present Value /ha Net Present Values /Ha

800 -3,737 2,325 16,450

Unit Price (Ksh) 1000 3,762 12,325 31,450

1200 11,262 22,325 46,450

1600 26,262 42,325 76,450

Table 6: NPV and EAE of tea growing to two pruning cycles Evaluation criteria

Discount rate (%)

Net Present Value Annual Equivalent

8 627,932 83,326


12 472,195 76,212

16 329,115 63,321

E.A.E 18-48 31-92 50-163 9.5-65 7.7-38

Financial returns for competing agricultural crops To evaluate the financial superiority of eucalyptus enterprises in western Kenya, a comparative analysis with some of the competing crops (mostly maize and tea) was undertaken. It is acknowledged that farmers in the region vary in their crop management levels depending on input application. Three levels of fertiliser input per hectare per season were considered in the analysis: low (0kg), medium (150kg) and high (200kg). Medium and high levels (II and III) were assumed to use tractor for ploughing, harrowing and planting whereas low levels used labour in all activities. These three maize crop levels were considered the optimal output achievable, within the abilities of the range of households in the region. Secondly, if significant commercial farm forestry is to take place in these districts, it is likely to be adopted by small, medium and large-scale farmers whose production abilities are reflected by the three maize land use levels. The data for tea production, obtained from the Tea Research Foundation, showed that the potential income ranged from Ksh 329,000 to Ksh 627,000 (NPV) or from Ksh 63,000 to Ksh 83,000 (EAE). See table 6.

Comparison of eucalyptus enterprises with agricultural crops When the returns from eucalyptus, maize and tea enterprises are compared, eucalyptus growing is more profitable than maize growing. However, tea is more profitable compared to eucalyptus firewood but not as high as eucalyptus pole wood. The returns from maize growing are less than half the returns from eucalyptus pole wood. This is based on projected revenues at pole wood and firewood sold at eight years. The revenue from maize is based on net aggregate returns for the same period. This analysis shows that eucalyptus growing is good use of land and farmers are encouraged to grow trees and manage them like any other crop. Tree growing is less intensive in terms of inputs but the returns are comparable or exceed other agricultural crops (Fig 2 and 3).

Miti July-September 2010

A privately owned woodlot of eucalypts. This farmer has opted for production of electricity poles, which will yield a good profit, better than any agricultural crop, including maize. (Photo: KFS)

Fig.2: Comparison of EAE eucalyptus enterprises, maize and tea 70000

Fig.3: Comparison net returns from eucalyptus enterprises, maize and tea









Net Revenue (Ksh)


50000 EAE (Ksh)






800,000 540,000 600,000


400,000 200,000

10000 0

0 pt ly ca


9 )2






0 P1

Notes Maize (M) - Maize is grown at medium level of

intensification F+P (29) - Eucalyptus grown with objective of firewood and small diameter pole wood for multiple harvests (three coppice cycles to 29 years) Pole wood (P29m) - Eucalyptus grown for pole wood (8yrs) for 3 coppice cycles Pole wood (10sh) - Eucalyptus grown for 10 year single rotation pole wood Firewood (F10) - Eucalyptus grown for firewood (10yrs) Tea - data obtained from TRF based on ten-year yield data

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(P us













) (M


pt ly ca



ai M


Maize(high) Eucalyptus Eucalyptus fire wood pole wood

Conclusion Landowners must make decisions about the best use of land and resources. Subjecting potential land use enterprises to profitability and economic analysis can do this. Based on the current market prices, prevailing economic conditions and the results of the analysis, it can be concluded that growing of eucalyptus is profitable

and can compete favourably with other land uses. It can be more viable than low and medium level maize production. This analysis is meant to give a guide to farmers who wish to invest in tree growing. The results can however vary depending on the assumptions made and the objectives of the farmer. If the farmer’s primary objective is to maximise on annual returns, it is important to analyse potential land uses and convert income to an annual basis to be able to compare (use of EAE criteria). 1 Principal Research Officer, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Londiani Regional Research Centre. Email: or 2 Senior Research Officer, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Londiani Regional Research Centre. Email:


Tabias for harvesting water in ASAL Planning, calculation, construction and maintenance


By Herman Verlodt

his article is a follow-up on “A solution for semi arid regions. Tunisian tabias and jessours may hold the answer for dryland water use,” that appeared in the April – June 2010 issue of Miti magazine. In Tunisia, tabias are not only a traditional way of harvesting water for growing trees and crops in arid areas, but also a current and living undertaking. A special division in the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture is charged with the maintenance and construction of tabias. In Kenya, relatively flat areas like eastern Ukambani are prime locations for construction of similar structures, for growing crops such as mangoes and green grams. Preparation and planning A tabia is principally a type of earth dike for interception, retention and infiltration of runoff water. It consists mainly of a principal dike and two lateral dikes, to form an U. Terracing for construction of the dike is done from inside the U, while creating a storage zone about 20-30cm deep. Successful construction and use of tabias requires the following conditions: Deep and fertile soil, with good infiltration and a good retention capacity. Existence of a zone creating runoff water (catchment area on a hill slope or an artificial impluvium) from where water runs towards the tabia zone; the runoff can also be provided by road catchments. The alimentation of the retention basin of a tabia can be done by direct interception of runoff water coming from above the tabia, or by deviation of runoff water coming from a thalweg, a small seasonal river or a road catchment. Knowledge of the region is necessary in order to know if there is usually runoff during the major rainy seasons and if road catchments are possible. Aerial photography can also be used to determine an area’s suitability. Photos at a scale of 1:20,000 or 1:25,000 can provide the necessary details to select favourable sites. Topographic sheets on a scale of 1:50,000 can also be used. Work preparation will in both cases be done on transparent millimetre paper or with a planimeter. This preliminary work should establish the extent of the suitable


The Acacia-Commiphora bushland in the east of the old greater Kitui district towards Tana River district. It seems flat, but in fact contains a micro-relief that allows for creating tabia-like structures where crops and fruit trees can be profitably grown. (Photo: Better Globe Forestry)

land, to determine if the work should be done for one owner (if sufficient suitable land is available) or for a group of owners.

Selection of a site This should take into account the following characteristics: Soil depth: Soil of a minimum depth of 80cm is required to store a wave of water of around 300mm. Such water cannot be stored in soil 50cm deep. Soil depth can be established by obtaining a few samples with a hand drill. Usually, drilling is not even necessary, as farmers normally know the depth of their soil. Slope: The slope is very important and should range between 0.5 to 3 per cent. The regularity of the slope and of the soil surface are crucial for the realisation of tabias, especially for construction of the retention basin. Availability of sufficient soil surface (for the catchment area) has to be checked. The tabia should be centred on the property and some 60m is needed

to install a deviation dike. In the absence of this space, the lateral dike should be protected with stones, at least at the deviation. Other factors to be checked are the existence of vegetation and of water and soil conservation works, which can reduce the runoff.

Dimensioning of the tabia Rainfall Dimensioning of tabias is taking into account annual rainfall (mm/year), or the rainfall per growing season (mm/season), and intensity of rainfall (mm/hour). However, since annual rainfall fluctuates greatly between a wet year and a dry year in arid regions, it is very difficult to do an optimisation of the dimensioning. The decision on the rainfall to be taken into account is mostly a compromise. It is interesting to know average, minimum and maximum rainfall, but for tabias, we also take into account the average of the rainfall occurring during dry years with a frequency of five years. For instance, average annual rainfall in Sfax, a town in central Tunisia

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In this picture taken in the south of Tunisia, there are five tabias, each supporting a small orchard of olive trees. The trees would die if not for the water accumulated behind the dike after a rare rainstorm. (Photo: Herman Verlodt)

along the Mediterranean coast, is 200mm, with a maximum value of 357mm and a minimum value of 37mm, but the average rainfall for the dry years is only 105mm. Another option is to take the available rainfall data of 20 years, classified from high to low, and take the 16th value. (80 per cent of the annual rainfalls are higher than this value). Intensity of the precipitations should also be taken into account. Rainstorms that last for just five minutes can result in very important runoff. In general, the value of the occurrence of such rainfall every 10 or 5 years is used. Rainfall characteristics can be obtained by interpolation from the country precipitation maps or from the records of meteorological stations close to the site. To avoid problems of too little water for growing and too much water that destroys tabias, it is best to underestimate the yields of runoff water and to overestimate the intensity of rainstorms, respectively. General considerations about dimensioning The width of the tabia depends on the mode of

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Table 1: Percentage runoff and runoff in m3/ha in function of the annual rainfall and the surface of the capturing zone Annual rainfall in mm

Runoff in % and m3/ha

80 mm

m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha % m3/ha %

90 mm 100 mm 110 mm 120 mm 130 mm 140 mm 150 mm 160 mm 170 mm

Surface of the catchment area (ha) 300 ha

200 ha

100 ha

50 ha

20 ha

10 ha

<0,1 ha

26 3.3 36 4.0 46 4.6 54 4.9 68 5.6 76 5.8 86 6.1 100 6.7 108 6.8 120 7.1

36 4.5 46 5.1 56 5.8 70 6.4 80 6.7 88 6.8 104 7.4 118 7.9 128 8.0 140 8.2

46 5.8 56 6.2 70 7.0 84 7.6 100 8.3 108 8.3 124 8.9 136 9.1 146 9.4 160 9.4

56 7.0 68 7.6 84 8.4 100 9.1 114 9.5 130 9.7 148 10.6 168 11.2 186 11.6 200 11.8

66 8.3 80 8.9 96 9.6 114 10.4 134 11.2 156 11.3 178 12.7 204 13.6 228 14.1 254 14.9

76 9.5 90 10.0 110 11.0 130 11.8 150 12.5 176 13.0 200 14.3 228 15.2 268 16.4 296 17.4

86 10.8 108 12.0 124 12.4 146 13.3 168 14.0 196 14.4 224 16.0 256 17.4 304 19.0 348 20.5

construction. The dike is constructed using the soil obtained from digging out the retention basin of about 30cm depth. For economic reasons, a span of approximately 30m with a grading machine is considered optimal. A width of 30m allows for three lines of trees, at 10m spacing. The length depends on the soil surface and on the size of the property. Lengths of 80 to

120m are considered optimal, but in exceptional cases, one can go up to 150m. A dimension less than 80m is only recommended if the property is not large enough or when the field has a very irregular profile. Tabias longer than 150m are difficult to level and are often divided into two or more parts by the construction of lateral dikes.


The height of the dike and the depth of terracing depend on the slope. For slopes of up to 1 per cent, the height of the dike is in general limited to 1.30m. For slopes greater than 1 per cent, the height of the dike should be increased by the height of the embankment. Estimations on the yield of runoff water To estimate the possible yield of runoff water, one needs to know the surface of the capturing zone or catchment area, based on available maps or air photographs. The coefficient of runoff may vary from 2 to 40 per cent and depends on the dimension of the capturing zone and the average annual rainfall. The bigger the capturing zone, the lower the runoff coefficient; and the higher the average rainfall, the higher will be the runoff coefficient. For fruit trees, it is best to take the average rainfall of the dry years (see Table 1) The volume of runoff per ha can be estimated from Table 1. Interpolation can be done for data situated between two milestones. Estimation of the water needs The water needed to obtain good results on the tabia is the deficit that the plot will experience in normal conditions of the region. This deficit is the difference between the average water need of the tree or fruit tree (on a yearly basis or a growing season base) and the average rainfall or the rainfall of the dry years (see above). For instance, if the average water needed for successful growing of trees is 450mm and the average rainfall of the dry years on a five year base is only 100mm, the tabia will need 350mm, which corresponds to 3500m3 per ha . Surface of tabia For a capturing zone of 15ha and with an average rainfall of 100mm/year, the expected

runoff is 103m3/ha per year (or season) and for 15ha the expected runoff is thus 1545

can be an option for one 147m-long tabia or two 74m-long tabias.

m3 (=103m3/ha * 15ha). A deficit of 350mm corresponds to a height of 0.35m or 3500m3/ha. The available runoff of 1545 m3 can be used on 0.44ha (=1545m3 / 3500m3/ha). Taking into account an optimal 30m tabia, the length can then be 147m (4400 m² / 30m). Depending on the limitations of the property and the regularity of the slope of the plot, there

Effect of the slope on terracing and excavation works To construct the principal and lateral dikes, one needs 3m3 and 1.5m3 respectively per linear metre of terracing, which corresponds to 3.75m3 and 1.875 m3 non-compacted soil. The excavation works for construction of the retention basin are used for the creation of

Table 2: Specifications for the construction of tabias in function of the slope for a length of 60m Slope in %

Difference in height in cm

0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 2 2.2 2.4 2.6 2.8 3

0 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60 66 72 78 84 90





Max depth in cm

Volume excavation in m3/m

Width of excavated section

Max height in cm

Volume in m3/m

Width in m

Height in m

Volume in m3/m

15 18 21 24 27 30 33 37 41 44 47 51 54 58 61 65

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.53 4.88 5.25 5.37 5.52 5.92 6.07 6.47 6.65 7.05

30 30 30 30 30 30 27.5 26.4 25.6 24.4 23.5 23.2 22.5 22.3 22.8 21.7

0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 7 10 13 15 18 20 23 25

0 0 0 0 0 0 0.04 0.09 0.15 0.28 0.42 0.51 0.68 0.77 0.94 1.04

00 0 0 0 0 0 2.5 3.6 4.4 5.6 6.5 6.8 7.5 7.7 8.2 8.3

1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.33 1.35 1.37 1.4 1.43 1.45 1.48 1.5 1.53 1.55

5.63 5.63 5.63 5.63 5.63 5.63 5.61 5.99 6.38 6.38 6.38 6.75 6.75 7.13 7.14 7.51

Miti July-September 2010

Soil excavation for road works during the rehabilitation of Garissa highway in Eastern Mwingi comes close to creation of tabias. (Photo: Better Globe Forestry)

the dikes and also for some embankment where slopes are more than 1 per cent. The volume (V) of excavation needed for creation of the dikes depends on the length (L) and width (W) of the tabia : V = 3 + (3W / L) The width of the tabia is in general 30m, while the length may vary from 60 to 150m. From the above formula it is obvious that for a 60m long tabia, the volume needed for the dikes is 4.5 m3/m and for a 120m long tabia, this is reduced to 3.75 m3/m Calculation of the maximum excavation The maximum depth of the excavation (P) can be calculated from the necessary excavation (V) and the topographic measurements: P = (V / W) + ( 0.5*h) [with V being the volume needed in m3/m, W the width of the tabia and h the denivellation (the difference in level) in m] For a volume of 4.5m3/m and a width of 30m and a slope of 2 per cent (h = 0.02*30 = 0.6m) the depth of excavation will be 4.5/30 + 0.5*0.6 =0.45m or 45cm, while for a slope of 0 per cent (h = 0.02*0 = 0m) the excavation will be 0.15m only. It is also necessary to take into account the

Miti July-September 2010

mandatory filling in of slopes of more than 1 per cent, and for that reason for slopes between 1.5 and 2.5 per cent, the calculated value of P is increased by 5 per cent and for slopes of more than 2.5 per cent, the value is increased by 10 per cent. Slopes of 1 per cent are ideal for constructing tabias, and slopes varying between 0.5 and 2 per cent present no difficulty. The maximum slope that can accommodate a tabia is 3 per cent. The excavation needed for realisation of the retention basin is used for the creation of the principal dike. Normally, a supplementary 25 per cent of volume is necessary for creation of this dike, including the lateral protections. The need for embankment diminishes with an increase in the length of the tabia because the relation lateral dikes / length of principal dike diminishes. For a length of 60m of the principal dike, this relation is 1, and for 120m this relation is 0.5. The slope influences the volume of excavation by maintaining a constant initial level of excavation (-30 cm). For a slope of 1 per cent, no excavation or filling in needs to be done at the base of the principal dike, and the volume of excavation can be used integrally for the construction of the dikes. For slopes of less than 1 per cent, the excavation will be bigger than the

needs of the dikes and for slopes higher than 1 per cent, the excavation will be insufficient for dike construction. Terracing has to be adapted in relation to the slope and in order to have sufficient excavation for construction of the dikes. For slopes less than 1 per cent, the excavation has to be reduced to less than 30cm and the prolongation of the lateral dikes can be used to maintain the depth of terracing and also to store water outside and behind the excavation works. For slopes greater than 1 per cent and in order to prevent erosion, special check dams with stones are built to reduce the speed of water. Table 2 presents the detailed specifications for construction of the tabia in function of a length of respectively 60. For interested readers, the Miti magazine team can provide the tables for lengths of 80, 100 and 120m. In the next issue of Miti: Evacuation of excess water from tabias. The writer is a former professor of the University of Tunis, Tunisia and a researcher specialising in horticulture and irrigation techniques Email: or h.verlodt@ yahoo.frs


Excavation of a shallow well. Workers are digging in dry conditions in a stable pit, to allow for construction of 3m-wide shallow well. They have arrived at a depth of 3m, where soft upper soil has given way to harder rotten rock.

Not so shallow

Wells are an inexpensive and efficient way to get water in the ASAL countryside


By Jan Vandenabeele

hallow wells are perhaps the second most popular method of getting water in the ASAL countryside. The wells come second to holes dug in sandy riverbeds, sadly, the method on which far too many people depend for water. As opposed to a borehole that ranges from 50 to over 200 metres in depth, a shallow well is usually between 8 and 15 metres deep, though occasionally it may go down to 20 metre or a bit more. It has to be deep enough to supply water throughout the dry season, when levels are at their lowest. Ideally, the water is used for everything – from drinking and cooking to watering livestock, irrigating a tree nursery or vegetable growing. The water is also sometimes sold. It is good to have this commercial dimension to the use of a shallow well, for providing funds for maintenance and – in general - stimulating development of the people that depend on it. Demand for water The dimensioning of a shallow well, notably its diameter and depth, reflects its use, especially if it is to be used for irrigation. When a shallow well is only meant for drinking water, its diameter should be at least 1.2 metres, as this provides at least a metre of working space during digging, while a diameter of 3 metres can be a standard size for irrigation


purposes. The latter offers a larger infiltration area for the surrounding water table, for instance, if an infiltration area 2 metres deep into a water carrying soil layer is at hand. A 1-metre-wide well provides 6.28m2 for infiltration of water, while a 3-metrewide well offers 18.84m2. As water trickles in slowly, replenishment is faster with a wider well, and its storage capacity is higher. This is important when one plans to do commercial vegetable growing, like on an area of one acre (4,000m2) or more, when daily water requirements reach 10m2 or more. Human consumption of water in the countryside ranges between 20 - 40 litres per person per day, hence water requirements there are far less than in urban areas. Supposing 100 families of six members each use the well, that makes for a consumption of 12 24m3 per day. Water consumption by livestock can reach high levels, especially during the dry season, at 5 – 20 litres per animal (depending on species), totalling easily 5 - 10m3 per day. Pumping is done during the day, and the well’s water is replenished to its highest level again during the night. Recharge rates vary a lot, typically less than 0.5m3 up to 2 or more cubic metres per hour. Water quality All is well, even if a well is at minimal recharge capacity, as long as the water quality is not salty.

Salt originates from mineral rich rocks, where water has been “loading” the salts and minerals, and sometimes there is no avoiding it. Strangely, a shallow well dug some tens of metres away from a salty one sometimes can contain sweet water. However, salinity rates can vary on a seasonal basis, from 1 - 2 mS/cm in the rainy season up to 3 - 4.5 mS/cm by the end of the dry season. (mS means milliSiemens, which is a measure for electrical conductivity. This can be measured with a simple hand-held conductivity meter.) One mS is equivalent to about 7g of salt per litre of water, and even hardy tomatoes can only be grown in water with a maximum salinity of 4mS/cm. Human consumption becomes uncomfortable when water contains 2mS/cm. Just as for a borehole where it is a legal obligation to obtain a chemical analysis of the water, water from shallow wells should be routinely tested, especially when it is for drinking. Siting Locating a site for a shallow well is crucial, as this determines the presence and availability of water. Sometimes shallow wells are dug in sites where very little or no water is available, especially during the dry season. Incidentally, timing of digging of the well is very important. The midst of the dry season is the best time, when underground water levels are low and dropping. When the diggers hit

Miti July-September 2010

The next step after the digging; construction of the shaft, in this case with locally burnt bricks. Steps in iron are fixed inside the wall shaft, and a temporary platform for a waterpump is provided.

A traditional shallow well, about 1m diameter, with a windlass. The donkey will carry a load of four plastic containers, each containing 20 ltr of water. In the dry season, fetching water is a daily chore, performed by women. A shallow well with a permanent platform for a waterpump. Such construction allows for the use of a cheap pump, that normally has a maximum sucking power of 7m. This is meant for larger water quantities like for irrigation (10-15m3 per day) where manual pumping is not sufficient.

water, conditions invariably become harder for work and water has to be removed either manually or by pumping, which is a cost. If the siting is on private land, there is no ownership dispute, but when the well is sited in the middle of a streambed of a seasonal river, it becomes a community affair, and proper consultations and agreements must precede any work. When looking for a suitable site, factors to consider are the topography, the nature of the soil (stones, rocks), presence of watercourses and the vegetation. In an article in Miti issue 6 of April -June 2010, “Water from dry riverbeds” more details have been given on tree species indicating presence of groundwater, as well as methods such as dowsing and probing dry riverbeds. A good and sure site for digging a shallow well is just downstream of an earth dam or another water collection point, where natural seepage occurs. This gives the added advantage of purification of the usually dirty water contained in the dam, through its passage inside the soil from the dam to the shallow well. Other good sites are alongside riverbanks or even in the midst of them. In the latter case, a hydrodynamic wellhead can be constructed, which is simply a wedge-shaped construction surrounding the well to deflect the force of water currents and flash floods (see Water from dry riverbeds, 2006, Erik Nissen-Petersen at

Miti July-September 2010

Construction Low-cost materials like burnt bricks can be used. These can be manufactured on site, provided soil with adequate clayish texture is available. These are used to line the wall shaft. If the soil is stable, the shaft can be excavated to its final depth and built upwards with the bricks. However, if the soil is less stable, i.e. more sandy, and there is a risk of collapse and serious accident, the “sinking” method should be used. In that case, a concrete foundation ring is manufactured upon which concrete blocks are reinforced together. The concrete blocks are then mortared and tied with galvanised iron wires onto the foundation ring with steps built in the wall for easy entry and exit. Sand is then dug out, and the foundation sinks gradually into the shaft. More blocks are added, sand is dug out from underneath the foundation, and it sinks further. This goes on until the shaft has reached its final depth. Pre-cast concrete rings can also be used, put on top of each other, and sunk into the shaft. If a waterpump is used for evacuating water during the digging of the well, care has to be taken to place the pump outside of the well shaft, as exhaust fumes high in CO2 may sink down into the well and poison the diggers. The bottom of the well can be plugged with a layer of gravel or pebbles to avoid silt or fine sandy material being drawn into the well, as this diminishes its porosity and recharge rate. Water can be drawn from the well using a simple windlass or handpump. A hand pump is preferable from a sanitation point of view, as the bucket and rope used by the windlass can become polluted

through contact with dirty hands. The windlass is however cheaper, can be manufactured on site and easily repaired. Maintaining proper sanitation standards is important, as so many common diseases like diarrhoea are water-borne and can be avoided through simple measures. One such measure is to construct a fence around the shallow well to keep away the livestock that often throngs around any watering point in ASAL during the dry seasons. Costs The estimated cost of an 8-metre-deep shallow well is Ksh 180,000. The cost is distributed between tools (wheelbarrows, shovels, pick-axes, buckets etc), hardware materials (cement and its transport, iron bars, galvanised iron wires etc), fees of the contractor or fundi (around Ksh 60,000), materials (river sand, ballast etc), labour (by either casuals or the local community members) and other costs (site for the well, accommodation for the fundi, etc). These costs evidently increase if the subsoil contains stones or hard layers, and when the depth is more than 8 metres. The rewards of a successful investment in a shallow well are considerable. The price of water in the countryside is high, and availability of water saves women and children long treks to fetch water. Education standards improve as children can do their school homework and go to school instead of spending hours on the road looking for water. The risk of water-borne diseases diminishes and health bills go down. Shallow well construction should be encouraged. The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry


Quality furniture from the workshop of SOS Children’s Village in Buruburu.

Masters of their craft The SOS Children’s Village produces refined furniture makers


By Jan Vandenabeele

n our quest for outstanding and successful forest products-based businesses, Miti visited an unlikely place, namely the SOS Children’s Villages, a non-governmental organisation (NGO). Unlikely, because you would not expect an NGO to be involved in business activities, nor a children’s village to engage in furniture making. But it turns out that there is a link, although indirectly, and it is educational. SOS Children’s Villages started in 1949 in Austria to offer homes to the many children orphaned by the Second World War. From Austria, the children’s welfare institution spread its wings to 132 countries. Currently, 70,000 children are cared for in 450 SOS Children’s Villages. Primary, secondary and technical schools as well as medical facilities were built to cater for the children. In Nairobi, an SOS Children’s Village was set up in 1972, complemented by a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in 1986. Woodwork, metalwork, fashion and design, food and beverage and electrical engineering are taught in the VTC in a three-year programme for Standard 8 leavers (1415-year-olds). SOS looked for qualified teachers for the different subjects. Fritz Bachlechner, an Austrian, volunteered to teach woodwork. Thus, two years after the setting-up of the VTC, Mr Bachlechner, or Fritz, as everyone calls him, started working in Buruburu, sharing his expert knowledge on carpentry and furniture making. Indeed, Fritz is an accomplished wood worker, a perfectionist who attaches great importance to detail and the finish of the products. He was successful in his teaching job, as gradually his job description extended into training the teachers and, by 1992, he assumed the management of the “production unit” or workshop.


Set up as an autonomous entity in 1989, the unit’s objective is to further the skills of the young apprentices after leaving the school. This means that the budding furniture makers also receive training in entrepreneurship, preparing them for life “in the open” (or “in the wild”). Even so, they are only called “craftsmen” after a subsequent apprenticeship of one to two years with an established industry. Such apprenticeships are not difficult to come by, as industries are eager to get well-trained woodworkers. The production unit has established a reputation of excellence, and its graduates find jobs easily. The graduates can also set out on their own, create a business and become self-employed. The workshop currently employs 25 people, of whom 18-20 are permanent, and the rest casuals, mostly students who use their wages to pay their school fees. Another reason for establishing a production unit was that SOS needed furniture for its expanding operations. So the unit has made furniture for the new Children’s Villages in Eldoret, Mombasa, Meru and Kisumu, as well as at Kakiiri outside Kampala, Entebbe, Gulu and Fort Portal in Uganda as well as Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar in Tanzania. Fritz, being passionate about woodwork, always pushes his students towards high quality standards. Apart from good and adapted machinery (saws, sanders, planers), and a stock of dry wood, this means paying special attention to detail and finishes. The woodworkers at the SOS VTC use joints and glue, instead of nails, to join pieces of wood together, a practice that makes all the difference to the quality of the furniture. In fact, this is only one of the many aspects that is standard fare in the woodworking classes of the VTC. Logically, the quality of the finishes is reflected in a higher price for the finished product. This could

be seen as a handicap in a highly competitive environment, but the centre has no problem finding clients. In fact, it has to turn down orders, as the first priority is to meet the needs of the Children’s Villages. The wood is air-dried in a shed, where it is properly stacked to allow free circulation of air, and the shed is well stocked. Obviously, this is a serious investment but one can look at it as a savings account, where the capital accrues interest, as the dried timber is far more valuable than fresh one. In fact, this is better than a savings account, as it is protected from the vagaries of the banking system, with its recurrent crashes and crisis, not to mention banking costs and fees. The timber stays in the shed for one to two years, depending on its thickness and the tree species. The centre uses mukanga (Aningeria altissima), a hard wood from around Kakamega and Eldoret, mahogany (Khaya spp or Entandrophragma spp) and mvule (Milicia excelsa) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Purchase prices for these DRC woods are respectively Ksh 105 and Ksh 115 per board foot. The centre does not use local pine, as it is difficult to find, but wood conglomerates as block board are used, depending on the nature of the work. Since its beginnings, approximately 1,200 students have gone through the school Some 200 to 240 of these studied woodworking. Fritz estimates that about a quarter of the graduates have the capacity to become entrepreneurs. And indeed, some of those have their own workshops (See article in the next Issue of Miti) The Vocational Training Centre’s reputation for quality is well deserved, and is most likely superior to government schools. Its running costs are not exorbitant, and are partly (40-45 per cent) covered by the school fees, while the rest is subsidised by the SOS Children’s Villages. The school fees vary according to the course. For instance, the woodworking and fashion and design courses cost Ksh 30,000 and Ksh 40,000 respectively, per year. Currently, there are 170 students in the centre, of which 10 to 15 are children from SOS. The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry Ltd

Miti July-September 2010

GreenLine takes off

Enthusiastic Kenyans launch initiative on World Environment Day


By Jan Vandenabeele

he Nairobi GreenLine initiative was officially launched at East Gate of Nairobi National Park, early in the morning of June 5, 2010. Thanks to intensive preparations, all necessary infrastructure was in place to receive the public. It involved quite some work by the GreenLine Committee to get tents, toilets, the fence, security arrangements, a PA system and parking space ready, while the press had to be briefed, VIPs invited and the public informed. T-shirts, caps and wristbands were on sale, and the seedlings and planting pits were prepared. A breakfast meeting started at 7.30 am until 9.00 am when different speakers took the floor. Anoop Shah, chairman of the GreenLine Committee and Julius Kipng’etich, the Director of KWS, explained the GreenLine initiative; Vimal Shah and Betty Maina of the Kenyan Association of Manufacturers also spoke, while the guest of honour, Josphat Ole Nanak, Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, expressed the support and appreciation of the Government. The public showed up, in large numbers, and the high point of the event was the formation of a human chain of about 5,000 people, holding hands and “drawing the line” alongside the boundary of the park, to symbolically protect the park from intrusion and grabbing. A wide variety of people turned up: from corporates, schools, foreigners from across the world, individuals that wanted to make a difference and even students from the Thika School for the Blind. The youngest tree planter we saw was two and-a-half years old. Everybody planted a tree; some even planted more than one. There was great enthusiasm, as people could see the GreenLine taking shape around East Gate, extending some 3 kilometres north of it, and 3.5 kilometres south.

To date, 25,000 tree seedlings have been planted in good wet conditions that ensure excellent survival. These realisations on the ground are backed up by successful fund-raising, in both cash (Ksh 12 million) and kind (worth around Ksh 9 million). The initiative still requires more money in view of expenses like fencing, boreholes and labour. Therefore, there can be no slowing down, and a series of mini-events is planned in the following weeks and months, where companies, schools and institutions are invited to come and plant tree seedlings. The objective is to have the whole northern side of East Gate towards the Carnivore planted by October. This is a distance of roughly 8.4 kilometres, and will need about 46,000 tree seedlings. From November onwards, tree planting will continue along the boundary to the south of East Gate towards Athi River, and an impenetrable hedge of Acacia mellifera will be planted alongside the outer fence. This has to be completed by May 2011. It will be followed by two years of maintenance after which it is expected that the GreenLine will have become a beautiful plantation with trees standing between two and six metres in height. Remember, you can support the GreenLine by donating Ksh 200 per seedling. See the website w w w.nairobigreenline. com, as well as Facebook, the KWS website and YouTube. The GreenLine is still looking for sponsors, both in cash and in kind, as the work is far from finished!

These realisations on the ground are backed up by successful fundraising, in both cash (Ksh 12 million) and kind (worth around Ksh 9 million).

TOP: The Managing Director of Better Globe Forestry, JeanPaul Deprins, does the job. It’s a seedling of Acacia xanthophloea, a beautiful indigenous African thorn tree, and it is part of BGF’s contribution to environmental conservation in Kenya.

(Photos: Better Globe Forestry) LEFT: The human chain extended for various kilometres along the boundary of the park, as a symbol to protect it.

A view of the human chain during the Megalaunch of the Nairobi GreenLine on the 5th of June. An estimated 5,000 people participated in the event. (Photo: Gareth Jones)

Miti April-June 2010



BIRMINGHAM - BRISTOL - MANCHESTER - NEWCASTLE Miti July-September April-June 20 1 0 2010