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• Storing water in sand • BGF: A tree-planting company with a difference • A whiff of holy perfume • CFAs as vehicles to a better life Ksh 250 Ush 7,000 I s s u e N o.1 0 Ap r il - J u ne 2 0 1 1

From banker to tree farmer

The story of an enthusiastic and eager tree grower

Sand dams or silt traps?

Poorly constructed dams are a huge waste of money

Borrowing from the ancient world

Jessours are a practical way of harvesting water in drylands

Should we pay more for water? Paying for conservation may be the only

way to stop watershed degradation

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A whiff of holy perfume

Relating water availability to trees

Frankincense is found in the drylands of northeast tropical Africa


News and letters

Readers’ views


Miti at SPGS clients’ meeting

Something is stirring in Uganda and it’s good to be involved


Greening the country

Despite challenges, NFA forges ahead with reafforestation programmes


Borrowing from the ancient world

Jessours are a practical way of harvesting water in drylands


Is it time to pay more for water?

Offering incentives for environmental conservation seems the way to stop watershed degradation


Towering over the nation

Despite being a lifeline to livelihoods, Kenya’s five ‘Water Towers’ are threatened


Getting a good return on money

Investing in cypress and pine plantations makes business sense


Storing water in sand

Sand dams are ideal for tapping water from small riverbeds, but proper construction methods must be followed


Sand dams or silt traps?

Poorly constructed sand dams dot our country. They do not work and are a huge waste of money


From banker to tree farmer

The story of an enthusiastic and eager tree grower


A huge market for firewood

Tea factories turn to tree growing as demand for wood fuel rises


Blazing a trail

Better Globe Forestry introduces an innovative business model for sustainable development


Better Globe Forestry

A tree-planting company with a difference


Prosperity with purpose

Better Globe Forestry is setting up an afforestation company from scratch, and all this in ASAL


Exploring new horizons

The new Forest Act involves communities in forest management


CFAs as vehicles to a better life

Opportunities for better forest management and improved livelihoods; emerging scenarios

Mukau: A Kenyan dryla with a brig ht future nds tree Yatta farm er makes farming big businesstree Interview with George May Ugandan farm er, anja

On the cover: Better Globe Forestry’s Kiambere pilot plantation on the shores of Lake Kiambere is a good example of protecting a water catchment. The lake gets less sedimentation while the company gets timber. Inset: This is what the area looks like before trees are planted. (Photos BGF)

t Storing wate t BGF: A tree- r in sand plant t A whiff of holy ing company with a difference tCFAs as vehic perfume les to a bette r life

Ksh 250 Ush


Issue No.1 0

From ba to tre nker

The story e farmer and eager of an enthusiast tree grower ic

Apri l-Jun

e 2011

Sand or sil dams

t traps? Poorly are a hug constructed dam s e waste of money

Borro the an wing from

Jessou cient wo of harves rs are a practical rld ting water way in dryland s

Shoul more fodr we pay water?

Paying for conservati on ma way to stop watershed y be the only degradatio n


Relating water availability to trees


n Wikipedia, “water” is defined as a chemical substance with the formula H2O. It is continually on the move through a cycle of evaporation or transpiration (evapotranspiration), precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. It is essential for humans and other lifeforms and there is a clear correlation between access to safe water and GDP per capita. However, it is estimated that by 2025, more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability. Fifty years ago, when there were fewer people on the planet, the common perception was that water was an infinite resource. Today, water is a strategic resource and an important element in many political conflicts. Our readers can therefore easily understand why Miti attaches so much importance to this unique resource. Miti looks at how to capture water, how to retain it and how to use it efficiently. And all these actions point to tree planting. Moreover, we believe that tree planting should be a rewarding business for those who venture into it. There is money in tree planting! The World Bank, with support from the Program on Forests (PROFOR), and in collaboration with the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and EcoAgriculture Partners, will convene an Investment Forum in Nairobi on May 25-27 on mobilizing private investments in agroforestry, sustainable forest management, and in reforesting degraded lands in Africa. The primary objective of the forthcoming Forum is to explore the potential for private sector investment in tree-based production, marketing and processing opportunities for bringing about landscape restoration in key African countries. This would achieve the “triple wins” of increasing rural incomes, making yields more resilient in the face of climate extremes, and making agriculture a solution to the climate change problem rather than part of the problem. The Forum is an outcome of the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change and is an important milestone leading up to the UNFCCC climate change talks scheduled for December 2011 in Durban. In this issue, while Michael Gachanja is alerting us one more time on how much Kenya’s “water towers” are threatened, James Kung’u and Joram Kagombe develop the idea that offering incentives for environmental conservation seems the way to stop watershed degradation. More on the water related front comes from Erik Nissen-Petersen and our own Jan Vandenabeele as they complete their definition, description and working mechanism of sand dams (see Miti issue 5). This time however, they also have a critical look at what should be avoided when building the same. Joshua K. Cheboiwo shows that investing in cypress and pine plantations makes business sense, while the Kenya Tea Development Agency reveals that tea factories have turned to tree growing as demand for wood fuel rises. Vaflahi Meite writes about Better Globe Forestry’s innovative business model for sustainable development. Erastus Kibuka explains how the new Forest Act involves communities in forest management while Musingo Mbuvi shares his ideas about opportunities for better forest management and improved livelihoods through community forest associations. As for our Ugandan chapter, you will read the story of Lillibert Semakula, an enthusiastic and eager tree grower. Miti was present at SPGS clients’ meeting in Uganda where Jan Vandenabeele found that something is stirring and it’s good to be involved. Moses Watasa of the Uganda National Forestry Authority (NFA) tells us how, despite challenges, the organisation is forging ahead with re-afforestation programmes. Enjoy the reading. Jean-Paul Deprins.

Published by:

Chairman of the Editorial Board:

Managing Editor – Uganda

TQML LTD P.O. Box 823 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: + 254 20 434 3435 Mobile: + 254 722 758 745 Email:

Rino Solberg

Julie Solberg

Editorial Committee

Ugandan Contact

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

Joshua Ondyer

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

Editor-in-chief Jean-Paul Deprins

Contributing Editor Mundia Muchiri

Designer Daniel Ngugi

Managing Editor – Kenya Wanjiru Ciira


Technical Editor Jan Vandenabeele


Miti April-June 2011

Give us more tips

An inspiring story

I came across the first issue of Miti magazine and enjoyed reading an article on composting. As was pointed out in the article, with the current prices, not all farmers can afford to buy fertiliser. The situation is worse in areas where farmers have to shoulder extra costs to battle soil erosion. As such, it is useful to give farmers tips on how to make compost. In addition, other practical tips like “How to start and maintain a tree nursery”, “Effective mulching”, etc, would be useful to small-scale farmers. On a positive note, I would like to congratulate Miti for always carrying an article on water management in drylands. I was fascinated to learn that there is water in drylands – we just need to know where to look and how to harvest it. This information was carried in Miti issue 5. Such articles make Miti a valuable publication for farmers, community groups, NGOs, government agencies and other parties interested in making drylands more productive. Keep up the good work.

I found the article on Mukuyu Farm in Kibwezi (Miti issue 1) very inspiring. It is very encouraging that people are doing such good work in Ukambani. Still on Ukambani, the story of Joseph Nzau, as narrated in Miti issue 5, is another heartening one. He grows mangoes along Athi River in Kibwezi, further demonstrating that one can get a good return in a semiarid area. It is good to see that some people are not discouraged by the environment in which they live but look for ways of making a living within their circumstances. Keep giving us such inspiring articles.

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. We also invite you to send us any interesting photos you might have. Please send your contributions to: The Editor Miti magazine P.O. Box 823 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya. Email: OR Miti magazine P.O. Box 22232 Kampala, Uganda. Email: Miti Magazine-Africa’s Tree Business Magazine

Mwema Mutuku Machakos Miti is available at the following outlets in Nairobi: • Text Book Centre, Sarit Centre • All Times Village Market, Westgate and Galleria • Virdi Pharmacy, Kasuku Centre, Kileleshwa • Karen Provision Stores • Chandarana Supermarket Yaya Centre, ABC Place and Lavington

Jane Nasieku Narok Thank you, Ms Nasieku, for your positive comments. We have noted your request for tips and shall look into it. Editor

Kenya launches the International Year of Forests The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 the International Year of Forests (IYF), to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and development of all types of forests. Forests for People is the theme of the year, to highlight the dynamic relationship between forests and the people who depend on them. Every country is thus preparing activities and programmes aimed at improving the status of forests and creating awareness among the citizenry of the important role of forests in everyday life. Kenya launched the country’s chapter of IYF on March 21 at the Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust grounds, in Karura forest. The Chief Guest during the event was Achim Steiner, the Executive Director, United Nations Environmental Programme.


According to the UN, about 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods, with more than 60 million people employed by forest-based industries. In addition, the value of wood removed from forests around the world annually is estimated to be more than US$ 100 billion. In recognition of the roles forests play in everyday lives of all Kenyans, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has scaled up forest protection and recovery of illegally occupied forestlands. For instance, KFS, in partnership with Friends of Karura Forest, has completed fencing Karura forest, making it safe for the public to engage in recreational activities there. The IYF thus comes at a time when the country is refocusing its attention on the role that forests play in the socio-economic wellbeing of a country. At the same time, it

comes in the wake of the realisation that only people’s goodwill and involvement in forest management can lead to sustainable forestry. To this end, KFS is rolling out participatory forest management and engaging communities in forest management through community forest associations as provided by the Forest Act 2005. KFS is also enlisting community representatives in forest management in its 10 Forest Conservation Committees countrywide. This is ensuring that the voice, especially of forest adjacent communities, is continually being heard and their wishes are acted upon. KFS targets to raise over 100 million seedlings for planting in 2010/11. So far, 80 million seedlings are ready for planting this season. KFS further urges Kenyans to plant trees this rainy season, as this is the pathway to achieving 10 per cent forest cover.

Miti April-June 2011

The Kikuyu Escarpment is vital in capturing water for the lower lying areas, but springs have been drying up because of indiscriminate destruction of forest cover. Payment for environmental services (PES) would definitely help to restore the tree vegetation. (Photo KFWG)

Is it time to pay more for water?

Offering incentives for environmental conservation seems the way to stop watershed degradation

By James B. Kung’u and Joram Kagombe


he five main water towers in Kenya, namely the Aberdares, Mt Kenya, Mau, Cherangani and Mt Elgon, are under great threat due to watershed degradation, change in land use and unsustainable management practices. Degradation and destruction of catchment areas has led to serious water shortages in Kenyan urban areas especially Nairobi, Mombasa and other surrounding towns. Due to these shortages, the water providers turn to water rationing, leaving the residents with little option but to buy water from vendors who get the precious commodity from boreholes and other unknown sources. The quality of these waters is not guaranteed and many a time people have contacted water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and others. Internationally, Kenya is classified as a water scarce country with a water endowment at 647 m3 per capita. This is far below the global benchmark of 1000 m3 per capita. Water shortages have largely been attributed to climate change and catchment degradation (Hughes and Hughes, 1992). Forests and trees affect the hydrologic behaviour of a watershed, including the quantity and quality of stream flow, erosion and sedimentation. In general, natural forests yield the highest quality of water of any ecosystem. The lowest erosion and sedimentation rates are usually associated with forested watersheds in natural conditions.

Miti April-June 2011

Stream flow from forested watersheds tends to be uniform, with peak flows lower than those from watersheds with other vegetative cover. Given this background, the role of trees and forests can be viewed in terms of watershed protection, enhancement of water resources and watershed rehabilitation. One way of avoiding the degradation of water resources, and achieving millennium development goals (MDG) is the payment by the beneficiaries of environmental services to the providers of these services as a way of reducing negative externalities and protecting the resources. This concept of Payments of Environmental Services (PES) can be an innovative tool for the financing of sustainable management watershed areas in Kenya.

Payment of Environmental Services (PES) The payment for environmental services concept has evolved over time as the discipline developed. Wunder (2005) classifies PES as a voluntary transaction where a well-defined environmental service (ES) is bought by a minimum of one buyer from a minimum of one ES provider, if the ES provider secures the ES provision. Recent evaluation of PES has shown that it is difficult to meet all the above criteria. Swallow et al., (2007) redefined PES as an approach that aims at transferring a positive incentive to the environmental service providers and are conditional on the provision of the service,


where successful implementation is based on consideration of additional and varying institutional contexts. The use of positive incentives, including and not limited to payment, is the core ideology of PES. Ecosystem services or ecosystem goods and services are the benefits people get from ecosystems. The benefits can be direct or indirect. Ecosystem values are measures of how important ecosystem services are to people and what they are worth (Biggs et al., 2004). To ensure sustainable conservation of water catchments areas, it is important to link the providers of environmental goods and services to the users. The concept of payment for ecosystem services and especially Payment for Water Services (PWS) has been adopted widely since the mid 1980s. PES can be viewed as an “incentive” based mechanism that has also evolved into diverse patterns. To realise the importance of PES to ecosystem management, its practice should be developed gradually to tackle the key questions of ecosystem management that include its complexity, adaptability and integrity to the goal of sustainable development ( Leimona et al., 2007; Waage et al., 2005). The concept of PES is very new in Kenya although it is increasingly being adopted in many other countries in Asia, South America and Europe as a way of providing incentives for conservation of watershed areas. PES should be seen as a way of achieving environmental policy objectives through according monetary value to the environmental services involved, in other words, making a “market evaluation”. PES is normally a voluntary

A small stream originating from a highland bamboo forest. The water is slightly muddy because of cattle coming to drink. Land use can improve if there are incentives. (Photo KEFRI)


transaction where a well-defined environmental service (often a land use) is bought by one or more service buyer(s) from one or more service provider(s) if the provider(s) continuously secure the provision of that service. PES programmes where the actual user is the buyer are more efficient because they act with most information on the value of the service, are directly involved and have clear incentives in ensuring that they function well. Sellers or providers of environmental services are actors who are in a position to secure the delivery of environmental services. Sellers could be land managers who are paid for specific land use practices that generate the desired environmental service. An important component of the PES scheme is that the targeted service is threatened. Although PES instruments are primarily developed to improve the efficiency of natural resource management and to realise an environmental objective, the effect on income redistribution is often an important side objective, especially in developing countries, since those who provide environmental services often constitute the poor groups in society (Hengsdijk et al., 2008).

Concepts of payment of economic services Ecosystems provide valuable services to the local, regional and international communities (Costanza et al. 1997, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) 2005). However, traditional markets are underdeveloped or lacking for many environmental services such as watershed

benefits, biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration and hence decisions to convert or alter the habitat fail to take into account the total service loss (Westman 1977, Hanley 1992, Loomis et al., 2000). When taken into account, these services may tip the scale in favour of environmental service particularly if the competing resource use such as agriculture and timber are only marginally profitable (Pearce and Moran 1994). In cognizance of worth of ecosystem services, PES (also called ecosystem or ecological services) has emerged over the last decade as an approach that provides positive incentives in management of ecosystems. The incentives under PES may be used to compensate those currently providing an environmental service or those who have foregone some of their land use practices that are detrimental to provision of the ecosystem service. Ecosystem services payments could include both monetary and non-monetary transactions (such deals as related to shifting property rights) between an individual (or a group of people) who provides services (“sellers”), and an individual (or a group) who pays for maintenance of those services. The key characteristic of these buyer/seller transactions is that the focus is on maintaining a flow of a specified ecological “service,” such as retaining high quantity and quality clean water, biodiversity and carbon sequestration capabilities. To ensure that the ecological service is indeed maintained - as buyers expect for their money the transactions require independent verification of sellers’ actions and effects on the resource (Katoomba, 2008). Economic value is one of many possible ways to define and measure value. Economists and ecologists agree largely that measures that combine ecological and economic information can help in identifying strategies that reverse biodiversity and ecosystem loss. PES is seen as a direct and efficient way to promote conservation of biodiversity since it bridges the interest of the local people and external actors (Wunder, 2006). Most water users would prefer water to be enough, of good quality and free of charge, while people living in watershed areas would prefer their economic activities i.e. farming or logging, to be unrestricted. People living in the upstream carry out activities that are sometimes in conflict with water management (Asquith et al., 2008). If watersheds are to be improved, then people managing the catchment areas should be given incentives. A reward-based approach that incorporates the upstream communities has the potential to reverse degradation of watershed areas.

Miti April-June 2011

The prevailing attitude towards watershed management is that water will always flow from the mountains freely and so there is no urgency or incentive to institute sustainable use of land and water. As a result, we do not recognise the role of farmers or even Kenya Forest Service in the provision of water. Consequently, land degradation at the catchment areas continues, inflicting heavy costs to downstream areas through siltation of reservoirs, damage to infrastructure and reduced flows during dry seasons. The creation of a payment scheme for ecosystem service depends on the existence of beneficiaries that are willing to pay the costs of these services. A recent study by Stanton et al., (2010) indicates that PES programmes are still at an initial stage with 288 programmes globally, while Africa has only 20. Latin America has the highest number of PES programmes. Payment for Water Services (PWS) programmes are either demand or supply driven. In many programmes, the main players are sellers, administrators and buyers. The sellers in Kenya could be the upstream landowners as either individuals, groups, communities, county councils, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service. The buyers can be municipal councils, city councils, industries, big farms, water companies and the Kenya Electricity Generation Company (KENGEN). Payment could vary, depending on land management requirement, the type of programme, whether local, national or regional and whether the programme incorporates poverty alleviation goals. The growing trend in PWS programmes is not strictly limited to cash payment but also includes other types of compensations, supporting a range of activities. These range from adjusting land management practices to improving and protecting water quality, flow and storage, poverty alleviation and institutional capacity building, technical assistance, overall social concerns and community development. The role of government is therefore very critical in developing policies and regulations in PWS.

Process in development of PES programmes The factors that influence the development of PES programmes include governance structures, population density, land tenure systems, availability of hydrological data and level of awareness (Marjorie et al., 2007). These factors are bound to influence the development of PES programmes in Kenya. PES could work with well-defined environmental services. The most common services

Miti April-June 2011

Clear water, a rare find these days, high up in a catchment area. (Photo KEFRI)

under the programme could include improved water yield, augmentation of seasonal river flow, improved water quality, general watershed rehabilitation and soil erosion control. While the environment services are based purely on downstream hydrological needs, the actual PES mechanisms adopted are an indicator of whether market mechanisms are at work or whether the government could regulate goods and services. In Asian countries, the widespread lack of land tenure has been cited as a key constraint to PES (Landell-mills and Porras, 2002) unlike in Kenya where there are clear land tenure systems. In developing a watershed PES, the ES must be well defined, valued economically and be easily measured and monitored. Studies on water utilities in other countries like the United States of America show that every dollar invested in watershed protection saves tens to hundreds of dollars in water treatment costs (Greenwalt and McGrath, 2009). In designing a PES scheme, there is need to determine the length of contract, type of payment or rewards, fee structure, targeting and transaction costs. The contract between buyers and sellers should be initially negotiated for a couple of years with a provision for extension if the demand still exists. In most cases, the reward systems could be cash payments to a group. There should be well laid down rules and cash should rarely be given to individuals. Instead, cash payments could be complimented with in-kind rewards such as provision of services like roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, piped water and even technical advice.

Conclusion Payment for Environmental Services (PES) has the potential to contribute effectively to the conservation of Kenya’s five water towers. The design of a performance-based payment scheme should combine the land use index and associated cost of each land use. The underlying logic is that incentives offered to KFS, KWS, private companies and farmers to maintain or improve water quality and quantity should be positively correlated both to magnitude of cost involved and most important, to the generation of the environmental service which should be reflected in the land use index (Francisco and Roger, 2008). If designed as targeted incentives, PES has the potential to become a highly cost-efficient environmental management tool. It can also attract new sources of conservation financing especially the private sector. Compensation for environmental services presents an opportunity for incentive-based conservation, enabling livelihood and conservation goals to be more easily reconciled. To achieve the benefits of PES, there is need to sign conservation incentive agreements between the buyers and the sellers. These agreements have to be evaluated on the basis not only of their efficiency to achieve conservation objectives but also on the criteria of equity. Prof James B. Kung’u (PhD), Department of Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University. Email: Joram Kagombe, Kenya Forestry Research Institute. Email: Note: This article contains 22 references that, for reasons of space, are not retained but can be consulted at the Miti offices.



The Aberdares are the water catchments of the Sasumua dam (shown) and the Ndakaini dam, which provide over 95 per cent of the water for Nairobi. (Photo KFWG)

over the nation Despite being a lifeline to livelihoods, Kenya’s five ‘Water Towers’ are threatened By Michael Gachanja


lthough they cover only 1.7 per cent of total land area, closed canopy forests are crucial water catchment areas, and harbour a large amount of Kenya’s biodiversity. The forests support Kenya’s human and wildlife population with water, energy and other goods and services. Among these forests, five, referred to as “Kenya’s Water Towers”, are the most important. These are Mt Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Complex, Mt Elgon and the Cherangani Hills. These form the upper catchments of all main rivers in Kenya (with the exception being the Tsavo River, whose upper catchment is Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania). These catchments provide water to all installed hydropower plants that produce 70 per cent of Kenya’s total electricity output. In addition to energy, they support two key important economic sectors in Kenya - tourism and agriculture. These forests also support the more than 4 million rural households that depend on forest products for their day-to-day needs.

The Five Major “Water Towers” of Kenya Aberdare Range forests These are located in central Kenya. They comprise a number of forest reserves, including the Kikuyu Escarpment, Kijabe Hill, Kipipiri and Nyamweru, as


the slopes of the mountains (from 1,800 to 3,600 metres). There are great differences in altitude within short distances, which determine a great variation in climate over relatively small distances. The Aberdare Range is endowed with rich diversity of flora and fauna and offers spectacular scenery for tourism. Increasing population pressure threatens the forests of the Aberdare. The main threats emanate from illegal logging, over-grazing, wildlife poaching, illegal water abstraction, encroachment and illegal cultivation, charcoal production and fire.

Mt Kenya forests

well as some forest areas in the Aberdare National Park. The forests cover 250,000 ha. The eastern part of the Aberdare Range is the catchment for Tana (Kenya’s largest river) and Athi rivers, while the north eastern slopes form the catchment area for Ewaso Nyiro (North) River which transverses through the dry areas of Laikipia and Isiolo, as it drains into the Lorian Swamp. Malewa River, on the western side of the mountain range, drains into Lake Naivasha. The Aberdare forests are also the main catchments for the Sasumua and Ndakaini dams, which provide most of the drinking water to Nairobi. The forests are rich in biodiversity because of the wide altitudinal range differences between

Mt Kenya forests are located on the equator, on Africa’s second highest mountain. The Mt Kenya ecosystem represents one of the most important pristine mountain ecosystems in the world and the most impressive landscapes in East Africa, due to its mountain peaks with rugged glacier-clad summits and diverse forests. Most of the forest belt is protected as national reserve with some forest areas located within the National Park. The National Park and upper parts of the ecosystem are inscribed as a Natural World Heritage Site under UNESCO’s World Heritage Site programme. The forests of Mt Kenya cover 220,000 ha and form the upper catchments of the Tana and Ewaso Nyiro rivers. Mt Kenya forests alone are estimated to meet more than 40 per cent of the country’s tourism. They support livelihoods of many of the people living around them and beyond. The value of Mt Kenya forests for rural households is estimated by IUCN to be US$ 94 million a year. The

Miti April-June 2011

An indigenous forest in Imenti North, part of the Mount Kenya water tower, gazetted under the Forest Act and protected by KFS. (Photo KFS)

main threats facing these forests are similar to those facing the Aberdares.

The Mau Complex Forest The Mau Complex Forest is the largest closedcanopy forest ecosystem in Kenya, as large as Mt Kenya and the Aberdare combined, and is the most important forest in the region. The combined forests of the Mau Complex cover an area of over 403,000 ha. The forests of the Mau complex could be easily divided in two main parts - the southern and the northern sections. The southern part comprises South West Mau, Southern Mau, Maasai Mau, Eastern Mau, Mau Narok, Western Mau, Trans Mara Forest Reserve, Eburru Forest Reserve, Molo Forest Reserve and South Molo Forest Reserve. In total, these cover 281,263 ha. The northern part comprises Mount Londiani, Londiani, Tinderet, Northern Tinderet, Timboroa, Nabkoi, Kilombe Hill, Metkei, Maji Mazuri, Chemorogok and Lembus forests, all covering 131,635 ha. Mau Complex Forest is the single most important water catchment in Rift Valley and western Kenya. It forms the upper catchments of all, but one, rivers that drain west of the Rift Valley, including Nzoia, Yala, Nyando, Sondu and Mara, which flow into Lake Victoria. It is also the main catchment of critical lakes and wetlands in the Rift Valley, including lakes Baringo, Nakuru, Naivasha, Natron and Turkana. The forests of the Mau Complex are also very rich in flora and fauna. Through the ecological services provided by its forests, the Mau Complex is a natural asset of national importance that supports key economic sectors in Rift Valley and western Kenya, including energy, tourism, agriculture (cash crops such as tea, sugar, rice, pyrethrum, subsistence crops and livestock) and water supply. Despite its critical

Miti April-June 2011

importance for sustaining current and future economic development, the Mau Complex has been impacted by extensive illegal, irregular and ill-planned settlements, as well as illegal forest resources extraction. This destruction brought a public outcry, particularly after 2001, following the infamous forest excisions that year. At the time, over 67,000 ha were excised countrywide, most of them from two of the largest Mau Complex forests blocks (22,798 ha in South West Mau and 35,301 ha from Eastern Mau forests). The public outcry pushed the Kenya government into forming a Task Force on Conservation of Mau Complex Forest in July 2008 and the Mau Interim Coordinating Secretariat (ICS) in September 2009 to coordinate implementation of the Mau Task Force recommendations.

Mt Elgon Forest Mt Elgon forest is located north of Lake Victoria on the border between Kenya and Uganda. The forest belt is protected as a national park and forest reserve; the latter covers 73,706 ha. Mt Elgon forms the upper catchment area for two major rivers Nzoia and Turkwel. It also provides water to the Malakisi River that cuts across the small farming area south of the mountain, before entering Uganda. The forest is home to species that are threatened globally, making the area critical for species conservation and a tourist attraction. However, the forest is being degraded due to deforestation and over-use, human encroachment and fires. This is lowering its water catchment functions, leading to declined land productivity in the surrounding areas.

Cherangani forests

An all too common picture of a Kenyan highland forest. Farmers have all but cleared the indigenous trees. Only a few original trees remain although secondary vegetation is making a comeback. (Photo KFS)

western ridge of the Great Rift Valley. The forests cover an area of some 120,000 ha and form the catchments of the Nzoia, Kerio and Turkwel rivers. Altitude varies between 2,000-3,365m with the hills rising to 3365m above sea level at Cheptoket Peak in the north central section. To the east, the Elgeyo Escarpment drops abruptly to the floor of the Kerio valley, while westwards, the land falls away gently to the plains of Trans-Nzoia. The Cherangani hills forests are important water catchment areas, and sit astride the watershed between the Lake Victoria and Lake Turkana basins. Streams to the west of the watershed feed the Nzoia river system, which flows into Lake Victoria while streams to the east flow into the Kerio river system. The forests are important bird areas. Despite their importance, Cherangani forests have been heavily encroached on over the years. Parts of the critical water catchment areas, including bamboo and wetlands, have been settled and cultivated.

The future of the “Water Towers� The five Water Towers are a crucial part of the environmental and economic health of this country. All efforts should therefore be made to ensure that they are well conserved. Despite the fact that Kenya has not managed to address the underlying causes of forest loss, all is not lost. The New Forests Act, the National Land Policy (2009), Vision 2030 and the New Constitution (2010) provide this hope. However, it is important to note that policy making in itself will not change anything. There must be a will to implement. The writer is Deputy Director, EA Wildlife Email:

The Cherangani forests comprise a number of forest reserves covering the Cherangani hills on the



a good return on money

The remnants of an old KEFRI trial on introduction of pine species in Kenya. This specimen, most likely a Pinus tecunumannii, shows the potential of certain Rift Valley sites (Masaita, close to Londiani). (Photo BGF)

Investing in cypress and pine plantations makes business sense By Joshua K. Cheboiwo


he Pinus patula tree, commonly known as Mexican weeping pine, is native to Mexico. It grows between latitude 24° to 18° north and 1800 to 2700 metres above sea level (masl) and can reach heights of 30 metres. It thrives in areas with 1100 to 2000mm average annual rainfall. Pinus patula has been grown as a plantation species in many countries outside Central America. In Africa, it grows well in the highlands of Kenya, Tanzania, Angola and Zimbabwe. Pines are among fast growing softwood species that include P. radiata, P. patula, P. caribaea, P. elliottii and P. oocarpa. Though most of these species are grown in Kenya, the widest grown species is P. patula. Cupressus lusitanica (cypress), also known as Mexican white cedar, is native to Mexico and Central America and grows at an altitude of between 1200 to 3000 masl. It grows up to 40 metres tall. Fast growing, it has been introduced from Mexico to different parts of the world. It has been planted widely for commercial production at high altitudes in South Africa, East Africa and New Zealand.

Kenyan experience Cupressus lusitanica and Pinus patula are some of the key exotic species introduced for planting in public forest plantations in the 1920s that have become popular timber species in Kenya. They are popular because of their relatively fast growth and short rotation compared to most indigenous species in high and medium potential areas of Kenya. The two exotic species produce high quality timber with high market demand. Cupressus lusitanica and Pinus patula were planted on farms due to availability of free


or highly subsidised seedlings from the Forest Department nurseries in the 1970s. As such, early planting on farms radiated around government run nurseries. Many farms in high-potential areas have hundreds of the two species, mostly growing in homesteads and boundary lines. For a long time, public forests dominated the growing of cypress and pines for sawn wood markets, a situation that changed drastically with the ban on harvesting of saw logs from public plantations.

Growth performance and financial returns Recent surveys show that cypress and pines still constitute a good proportion of planted trees on farms, accounting for up to 30 per cent of the planted trees species in Kenya’s Rift Valley. The supply shortfall after the ban on harvesting in public forests and closing of sawmills resulted in an increase of sawn wood retail from Ksh 7,000 to Ksh 25,000 per metric tonne by mid 2003. Similarly, cypress saw log prices at farm level rose from Ksh 800 to Ksh 3,000 per m3 for premium logs, mostly over 25 years. These changes transformed farmers from subsistence saw log and sawn wood producers into key commercial producers. The lucrative

saw log and sawn wood markets brought a huge financial windfall to farmers who planted trees in the 1960s and 1970s. The developments have motivated farmers and private companies to expand planting of saw log plantation as a commercial venture to fill the gap left by declining public forest sector. Cypress plantations can accumulate wood at an average growth rate of approximately 26m3/ ha/yr and P. patula records higher growth of up to 30m3/ha/yr under good climatic and management conditions. Two commercial thinnings are done at 12 and 17 years, yielding a total volume of 300m3. The final yields between ages 25 and 30 years range from 420 to 560m3 or 0.78 to 1.5 m3 per tree. At the current stump price of Ksh 2,500/ m3, income ranges from Ksh 2.2 to 5.5 million/ha, or net present value (NPV) discounted at 10 per cent, Ksh 240,000 to 400,000 per hectare. The returns are better than low input maize enterprises of Ksh 88,000 and 96,000 but lower than tea and high input maize crops. However, the rate of return for saw log plantations is 1:4 compared to 1.14 for maize enterprises, showing that trees give higher returns to every shilling invested.

Miti April-June 2011

A plantation (about 10 years old) of Caribbean pine (Pinus caribaea var hondurensis) in Uganda. Maintenance is done well, although pruning could have been higher and more thinning is required. However, this plantation is well underway to sawlog production. (Photo BGF)

Market opportunities Kenya’s importance as a player in industrial forestry production and processing in the region has declined since the ban on logging was enacted in March 2000. It is estimated that about 400 sawmills, worth approximately US$ 60 million, had been forced to close by August 2006 because of shortage of sawlogs since the ban took effect. Lifting of the ban will not solve the current shortage immediately because of the decreasing stock of wood in public forests. The growing stock on public forests in 1990 was estimated at 52.05 million m3, which was reduced to 16.3 million m3 by 2008. Public plantations projections indicate that they will fall from 115,000 hectares in 2009 to stabilise at around 80,000 hectares by 2050. The annual allowable cut will fall from 540,000 m3 and stabilise at 326,000 m3 by 2050. Thus, timber production in public plantations will not be sufficient to meet the country’s needs and private sector and farm forestry will have greater opportunities to fill the gap. Currently, the private sector (mostly farms) supplies the market with about 95,000 m3 of sawn wood worth Ksh 2 billion whereas the demand

Miti April-June 2011

for industrial logs in the country stands at about 1.5 million tonnes per year. Serious shortages are being experienced in the pulp and paper, saw milling, plywood and particleboard industries. In fact, the country is importing wood from Tanzania, South Africa, Malawi and Sudan. Timber imports from Tanzania began in 2003 due to the ban and high prices and since then, imports have risen ten-fold. Kenya has been importing timber worth US$ 13 million each year, mostly from Tanzania, Malawi, the DRC and Uganda, to meet the deficit in supply in the local market.

Recommendations The findings indicate that despite competition from agricultural land use, cypress and pine plantations are viable enterprises with good cost-benefits ratios, indicating higher returns to invested funds as compared to high-input

A mature, gazetted, plantation of cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) with some patula pine trees (Pinus patula) in between. Some trees have lost value as timber because of stem injuries. Felling is required but no exploitation is taking place because of the logging ban ‌ (Photo KFS)

agricultural crops. The increasing saw log prices make business sense to invest in round wood cypress and pine plantations on private land, farms and public forest concessions. The changing demand/supply situation for industrial round wood is increasingly making the business more profitable. The KEFRI findings provide strong support for farmers and the private sector to enter industrial forest plantations. The writer is the Principal Research Officer, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Londiani Regional Research Centre. Email:


A huge market for firewood Tea factories turn to tree growing as demand for wood fuel rises


he Kenya Tea Development Agency has launched an ambitious reforestation programme to put some 40,000 acres (16,000ha) of land under trees. The plan requires each of the 54 factory companies to plant at least 700 acres (280ha) of trees within the next five years. This translates into 56ha or 100,000 trees per factory per year, or 5.4 million trees. Some of the factories have made impressive progress, putting hundreds of acres under different species of trees. Many others are in the process of acquiring land for that purpose. KTDA manages 54 factory companies and 11 satellite factories, bringing the total number of factories under the aegis of KTDA to 65. The factory companies, which own KTDA as corporate shareholders, are owned by some 562,000 smallscale tea farmers who are both shareholders and suppliers of leaf to their respective factories. The area under tea has grown phenomenally over the last decade. Today, nearly 110,000 hectares is under tea cultivation, with an estimated 1 billion bushes. While KTDA and its managed factories have always been keen on conservation, the current push began several years ago following a sharp increase in the cost of furnace oil on the international market. Furnace oil has been the primary source of energy for powering boilers used to dry tea. Soaring prices of the commodity however brought home the stark reality that many farmers would not remain in business unless urgent measures were taken to find alternative energy. That development forced factories to convert their boilers from purely furnace oil-driven to include a chamber for wood fuel-driven. In fact, some boilers are 100 per cent firewood dependent. That decision helped many factories to manage energy costs and to keep paying their shareholders more than 70 per cent of the total revenues. The last two years have in fact seen farmers register unprecedented earnings in the agency’s history. During the 2009/2010 financial year, farmers earned Ksh 38.2 billion, an increase of 50.4 per cent over the previous year. This was a result of prudent management of costs across the value chain as well as better prices and favourable exchange rates. However, the



2 prospect of relying on wood fuel in the long term was an uncomfortable reality that many factories had to contend with, considering the country’s low forest cover. To deal with the environmental challenge, factories began raising their own tree nurseries with seedlings being distributed to small-scale tea farmers to plant on their farms. The nurseries located in each factory propagate both indigenous and exotic species at the ratio of

1. A smallholder farm with some Grevillea trees. Smallholders used to grow trees for conservation, now they do it for profit as well, as they can sell the fire wood to tea factories. 2. Tea processing at a KTDA-managed factory. The use of fuel wood in the drying of tea has helped factories to lower their costs and maximise shareholder value.

Miti April-June 2011



5 3. In view of rising fuel bills, tea factories have turned to fire wood to cure tea. The wood is procured from their own plantations or from small-holder eucalypt woodlots. 4. A nursery of both indigenous and exotic seedlings, located at a KTDA-managed factory. 5. Increasingly, tea factories have started planting their own woodlots such as this one owned and managed by Nyankoba Tea Factory in Nyamira. The eucalypts are only two years old. All photos KTDA

Miti April-June 2011

30 per cent and 70 per cent respectively. These serve two purposes - increasing the forest cover in tea growing areas and enabling the farmers to earn money from the commercial species by selling them to factories as fuel wood. But the factories did not stop there. They also embarked on massive acquisition of land across the country for planting trees. The challenge, however, is that most tea growing regions are in high potential areas, making it

difficult to get expansive pieces of land for reforestation. This meant the factories had to venture out of their catchment areas and purchase land in neighbouring counties. For instance, Kisii factories have mostly acquired land in neighbouring Transmara, while Kericho and Bomet factories have acquired land in areas such as Kipkelion and Molo. The common species grown for wood fuel are Eucalyptus grandis and E. camaldulensis because of their fast growth rate, high calorific value, a wide variety within the species available for different ecological regions and ability to regenerate (coppicing). Most types of eucalyptus mature within seven to ten years. Grevillea robusta and Pinus radiata are the other common species. Different factories are at different implementation stages of the project. Research is currently on to establish other tree species that are fast maturing and have high calorific value. Attention is being directed at bamboo. As the trees reach maturity in different catchments, a wave of excitement is sweeping through tea growing areas, as this will end the over-reliance on private growers, as factory outgrower schemes are yet to be established. Fuel wood is collected from the farms by factory trucks but at times, the firewood suppliers use their own transport under different terms. The wood fuel is stacked within the factory premises and is used on a first in first out basis. Fuel wood is measured by volume and usually the price is the same for both dry and wet wood. Current prices average about Ksh 1,500 per cubic metre. The prices are however moving upwards due to increasing demand. The factories have no kilns currently and seasoning of the wood fuel is done naturally from sunshine, and is thus weather dependent. The firewood is supplied already cut and split to required size. However, each factory keeps some power saws just for further size reduction before use. This article was supplied by the corporate affairs department of KTDA Email:


Blazing a trail

Better Globe Forestry introduces an innovative business model for sustainable development

Rino Solberg and Jean-Paul Deprins (on the right) with the Committee members of Witu-Nyangoro Ranch, in Witu (Lamu district). (All photos BGF)

hen I met the Chairman and the Managing Director of Better Globe Forestry Ltd (BGF) in 2007 in my office,1 I had some doubts about their project concept. Indeed, expecting European business people to invest in planting trees in Kenya, with an estimated payback period of 20 years, was very surprising to me. Four years later, I have come to appreciate what has been achieved by BGF so far. The unique model grounded on the partnership with the landowners to develop commercial plantations on arid and semi arid lands (ASAL), where the trees are not competing with food production, is praiseworthy in the spirit of sustainable development. Considering the global environmental challenges, the concept of sustainable development, and BGF’s contribution towards the common goal at its micro level, I have the pleasure to explain below why it is my inward conviction that the company needs more support for its innovative operations. This is my personal view and it should not, under any circumstances,

be regarded as the official position of the institution for which I work.

Modern society is embedded within the environment, being dependent on it for the materials and energy needed to maintain civilisation. As shown in figure F1, all environmental problems fundamentally involve either depletion (consumption) of sources or pollution (waste) of sinks. We can hence measure the environmental impact of society by these two processes. Depletion occurs when the accelerated cycling and flow remove matter and energy faster than natural processes are renewing them. Conversely, pollution occurs when the environmental equilibrium is no longer achieved.2 The earth has a certain number of resources - perpetual (direct solar energy, winds, tides), potentially renewable (fresh air, fresh water,

fertile soil, plants and animals) and nonrenewable (fossil fuels, metallic and non-metallic minerals). These resources are subjected to the pressure of the activities and human behaviour. The management of potentially renewable and non-renewable resources requires a considerable change of human modes of production and consumption, where both resource depletion and/or pollution should be controlled. Human population and consumption are two main forces accelerating the alteration of the natural environment: the environmental impact. The following equation is a simple way to summarise that explanation: Impact = Population x Consumption. Both worldwide population and consumption per person have been increasing very rapidly. This has led to an extremely rapid increase in environmental impact. Consequently, the world faces many environmental threats. These include climatic change due to greenhouse effect, the hole in the ozone layer, acid rains, biodiversity erosion, desertification, ocean degradation, etc. For all these threats, preventive and corrective actions at all levels are essential. Thus, the need for better family planning3 and appropriate management of natural resources (and environment protection) has been raised; even if it did not always receive the responses expected.

1 I was then the manager of the regional office of the Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE) for Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi.

2 McKinney M. L. and Schoch R. M., “Environmental science, systems and solutions”, third Edition, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, ISBN 0-7637-0918-2, (2003)

3 Although very important, family planning is not the subject of this article and will not be developed further.

By Vaflahi Meite



The global environmental context and BGF’s contribution

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Regarding family planning, it is not my intention to restart the debate pitting the Malthusians (for whom the uncontrolled growth of population hinders economic development and environmental protection) and their opponents. Nonetheless, with an estimated population density of 33.5 habitants/km ² compared to the average figure of 45 habitants/km ² for the entire world, Africa is not heavily populated. Africa’s population is more than Oceania, as much as America, but less than Europe and much less than Asia. There is no problem from that angle. The serious concerns regard the average growth of Africa’s population, estimated at 35 per cent per year. This is three times more than Europe, a cause of concern for a continent that faces many problems such as limited economic growth, chronic malnutrition, deforestation, soil erosion and pandemics. As such, my personal view is in line with the Malthusians’ theory for Africa (especially in the countries with less economical potentials). Controlling the demography is necessary. Coming back to environmental protection, let us note that since the early 1970s, thousands of summits, meetings and conferences on “sustainable development” and environment management are held around the world every year. At the global level, the main environmental summits held in Stockholm (1972), Rio de Janeiro (1992), Kyoto (1997), Johannesburg (2002) and Cancun (2010) have come up with some key resolutions and recommendations. Unfortunately, the essential problems are yet to be solved and concrete results on the ground are far from expectations. The reality is that all the environmental agencies and stakeholders around the world need to appreciate the necessity for better control of all activities that contribute to the above-mentioned phenomena of worldwide pollution and its detrimental effects. Although it is true that environmental problems are numerous, everyone should be conscious of the fact that reacting only under pressure of serious accidents and natural disasters is no longer enough. Moreover, global environmental problems are the result of local actions of many individuals, and the problems can hence only be solved if those local issues are addressed. Therefore, new approaches are essential to reach environmentally sustainable development. This calls not only for technology and for scientific understanding, but laws, ethics, economics and other aspects of human behaviour will play a key role in solving current environmental problems. The BGF project contributes to greening ASAL in East Africa and is an example of concrete actions that need to be replicated and

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Figure F1: Society in the environmental system


Modification of the natural Environment

Consumption of natural resources

Deficit of the natural Environment

Increase of humans needs

Figure F2: Concept and component of sustainable development

expanded as much as possible. By developing commercial plantations that do not compete with food production, BGF is providing an innovative and replicable model, which can be a creative answer to reducing deforestation while ensuring long-term income to rural people in ASAL. BGF’s innovative business is a giant step towards the sustainable development of hosting communities.

The sustainable development merits of BGF activities Sustainable development (SD) goes beyond the static maintenance of the ecological status quo. The term was used by the Brundtland Commission,4 which coined what has become the most often-quoted definition of sustainable development as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The field of sustainable development can be conceptually broken into three (or more if necessary) components parts, namely, environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and social sustainability (see figure F2 above). 4 The Brundtland Commission, formally the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), known by the name of its Chair Gro Harlem Brundtland, was convened by the United Nations in 1983.

BGF operations consist mainly of “sustainable agricultural programmes through microfinance schemes, educational programmes and building schools.” How many examples exist in the world of a private company promoting massive planting of trees in ASAL where the trees are not competing with food production? How many examples of such a partnership with landowners exist in the world whereby a company has turned its back to old and debatable practices of imposing solutions on indigenous people? Before developing the plantations, BGF engages in comprehensive memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with the landowners. To the best of my understanding, BGF has “developed a whole range of interventions to cooperate with communities and individuals neighbouring its plantations”; with all the company’s transactions being conducted with integrity and in accordance with business ethics and practices. There is here a strong case of three-dimension sustainable development – in the economic, environmental and social dimensions. Economically, even if at present there is not yet such income mainly due to the nature of this business, both the indigenous community and BGF will increase their earnings in years to come. Indeed, the species selected and planted will produce economically strong products for highquality timber, gum arabic and energy. At the macro level, the country will get the


related benefits such as the foreign currency earnings that will be generated by exporting the products and job creation for local transformation. However, for me, the most important aspects are the socio-environmental sustainability dimensions. The environmental merits of the BGF business model are enormous. From Miti issue No 001, we note that “the desert in Africa is moving south very fast and without massive forestation, in the next 20 - 30 years, most land suitable for farming will be gone.” Moreover, as in many sub-Saharan countries, the Kenyan forest cover is very low. It stands at less than two per cent in comparison to the internationally accepted 10 per cent. Thus, it is almost, if not already, a critical case. Knowing the ecological advantages of tree cover such as water catchment, soil conservation, biodiversity, etc, the contribution of BGF to environmental sustainability in its operating countries is self-explanatory. Indeed, the environmental sustainability focuses on the overall viability and health of living systems, defined in terms of a comprehensive, multi-scale, dynamic, hierarchical measure of resilience, vigor and organization.5 Equity and poverty alleviation are the key social sustainability components of this operation. Social sustainability usually refers to improvements in both individual well-being and the overall social welfare. By empowering the local communities and landowners in decision making, strengthening social cohesion and networks of relationships and reducing the occurrence of possible conflicts, the BGF approach ensures the social sustainability of its activities. In view of the above, I must re-emphasise that BGF needs additional support. At this stage of its life, the company operates with limited financial means, human resources and technical capability, while it must pursue imperatively the operations so as not to lose all the assets and investments made to date. International support “Before proper planting can start, various studies need to be done. These include feasibility studies, an environmental impact assessment, a soil survey, a typographical survey, a baseline to establish existing vegetation, a baseline in buffer zone for defining community development action and an overall management plan.”6 5 Costanza, R. 2000. “ Ecological sustainability, indicators and climate change” in M. Munasinghe and R. Swart (eds) Climate Change and its Linkages with Development, Equity and Sustainability, IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland. 6 Cf M. Rino Solberg, Chairman of Better Globe Group in MITI 001


Farmers around Mboti Primary School (Nguni, Eastern Mwingi) during a meeting to discuss an out-growers project for mukau trees. Profitable growing of trees is one of the few options for sustainable farming in ASAL.

Rino Solberg of Better Globe Forestry and Elias Musyoka, chairman of Sosoma Ranching Society and a respected local elder, share a relaxed moment at Mboti Primary School in Nguni (All photos BGF)

This statement shows the necessity of additional support in terms of technical assistance. Nonetheless, there are many multilateral and bilateral development organisations and agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGO) dealing with the thematic “… multifunctional sustainable forest management and its enabling legal and financial environment, the conservation and sustainable development of forest resources, the development of the institutional framework of the public and private forestry as well as the forestry cooperation with countries in transition forestry administration, the increasing of public awareness of forest issues, involvement of the public in forestry matters and recognition of the cross-sectoral nature of most forestry issues.”7 Moreover, the European Union funds many

7 Forestry cooperation in countries in Transition, Status report 2002, prepared in accordance with MCPFE Resolution H3, “Cooperation with Countries with Economies in Transition”, by Dr. Peter Csoka for UNECE/FAO, Geneva, UNITED NATIONS

technical assistance instruments and programmes for private sector development, agricultural and rural development, capacity building and strengthening of national expertise in this wide field of agriculture and forestry, environmental engineering etc. To provide more information on these facilities is not among the objective of this article. However, the BGF management is invited to investigate this further and to identify the most relevant partner to enlarge its pathway towards its noble objectives. The BGF model is replicable in many other ACP countries as a creative answer to reducing deforestation while ensuring long-term income to rural people in ASAL. Let me conclude by just saying “asante sana” to BGF and “kila la kheri”.

The writer is the Manager of the Operations Department, Centre for the Development of Enterprise (CDE).

Miti April-June 2011

Workers in the Kiambere plantation all ready for manual watering of seedlings. It is full dry season. (All photos BGF)

Better Globe Forestry A tree-planting company with a difference


By Rino Solberg

ost forestry companies in Africa plant trees mainly to make money for their owners in the shortest possible time. As such, they plant fast-growing eucalypts in farmland where there is plenty of rain. Better Globe Forestry has adopted another approach to make money. We primarily have the following interests in mind: • Eradication of poverty in Africa by building communities and creating work for poor people in arid and semi arid lands (ASAL) and by planting billions of trees in places where regular forestry companies do not go. • Helping communities with microfinance, farming education and water. • Building schools for the children of the host communities. Better Globe Forestry believes in social entrepreneurship and making sustainable plantations and communities in Africa and has

a long-term approach to our plantations profit structure. Another thing that separates us from other forestry companies is that we take onboard people and companies that want to buy trees as a commodity, with an estimated good profit and at the same time doing much good in the process, by helping us eradicate poverty in Africa. At Better Globe Forestry, we have a different approach to using land in Africa. We work very closely with landowners like ranching societies, cooperatives and other communities in ASAL, and incorporate them in agreements. This way, they see clearly the benefit we give them.

From Dryland to Greenland One of the biggest problems in ASAL is unemployment. In their search for work, the young people growing up in ASAL normally end up in the slums of the big cities and towns and often turn to crime to survive.

However, with Better Globe Forestry starting massive tree planting in dry areas, and creating big development projects there, we hope to bring work to all people living in such areas and thereby reducing migration to towns. Our biggest challenge is to get water in these areas and we need help here because of the high cost of building water sources in dry places.

Tissue culture Good seeds are critical to successful tree planting. If the seeds are poor, the results will be poor. That is why we at Better Globe Forestry do not leave anything to chance but have developed a protocol for mukau in cooperation with the University College of Ghent, in Belgium. The first 3,000 mukau seedlings are expected in Kenya between April and July this year and we are very excited to see what the results will be. We expect this cooperation with the University College of Ghent to yield the best seedlings and hopefully, the best trees. At Better Globe Forestry, we believe in making money by being unique and developing a sustainable business model. We do this by helping the communities with whom we work to build their livelihoods in a sustainable way too. The writer is the Chairman, Better Globe Forestry.

Left to right: Rino Solberg, Jean-Paul Deprins (respectively Chairman and Managing Director of Better Globe Forestry Ltd) Jeremiah Mavuti and Gideon Muthenzi (Sosoma Ranching Cooperative Society), against a backdrop of the large plain of Sosoma in the eastern part of Mwingi district. The land is flat, relatively featureless and dry. BGF has a lease here for 60,000ha.

Miti January-March 2011


Prosperity with purpose Better Globe Forestry is setting up an afforestation company from scratch, and all this in ASAL By Jan Vandenabeele and Jean-Paul Deprins


n line with the vision of its founder, Rino Solberg from Norway, which is “Poverty alleviation in the African countryside�, Better Globe Forestry (BGF) has been created to plant trees on a massive scale in truly poor areas – arid and semiarid lands (ASAL). As it happens, ASAL are still largely empty lands, and large, empty spaces are what you need for large-scale, industrial style afforestation. Although ASAL are sparsely populated (5-30 inhabitants/km2), the people still need ways of earning a livelihood. BGF provides this. Apart from getting jobs in the plantations, the people are organised in outgrower schemes, where they will grow the trees, with BGF providing the market.

Jan Vandenabeele (Executive Director of BGF) standing beside a mukau plus-tree somewhere in the bush around Mutha (SE Kitui).

TECHNIQUES AND TREE SPECIES The range of tree species that can provide a return on investment in ASAL, in less than 20 years, is quite limited. BGF has identified the following: Melia volkensii (mukau), a fast-growing species limited to Kenya, the south of Somalia and north Tanzania. It belongs to the mahogany family and produces mahogany timber. Mukau is a hardy species that can withstand low rainfall, is not susceptible to termites and grows fast. Its drawbacks are mostly a lack of good seed sources, propagation in the nursery is problematic and it has to be pruned frequently. BGF is working with the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) to set up a breeding programme and more silvicultural research to push this species onto a higher level. Nevertheless, its potential is huge and not yet fully grasped. Acacia senegal and A. seyal, both producers of gum arabic, an ingredient with many industrial applications. Plantation forestry of mostly A. senegal is well developed in


Sahelian countries like Senegal (yes) and the Sudan, while for Kenya more research is needed on yield and again, breeding. Both species can start producing at four years, providing returns on a yearly basis. Depending on site conditions, other species - for example, indigenous acacias for energy - can be grown. BGF planted 55ha of Jatropha curcas (JC) in Kiambere (Mwingi district). However, poor yields and costly management (phytosanitary protection) made it clear that this species was not destined for ASAL, and BGF opted out of the project. These JC compartments have now been cleared and replanted with mukau, except for some trials started up with other institutions. All good plantations start with quality seedlings. And quality seedlings come from quality seeds. That is a bit of a problem with mukau, as the best trees may have already gone.

BGF collects mukau fruits from selected trees in Mwingi, and has a programme in place to clone these plus-trees for establishing a seed orchard. This will serve as a basis for more advanced breeding work. The Kenya Forestry Research Institute is an important partner here. For fast propagation, as quality seeds are in short supply and cannot sustain a monthly planting programme of, say, 500ha, BGF counts on clonal, or in-vitro mass multiplication. Over the past three years, the University College of Ghent, in Belgium, has developed a protocol. Development of a tap root system was the main hurdle, and this has been cleared, though minor improvements are still needed. Taproots are essential in drylands, to reach moist soil layers deep down, complementary to a well-developed superficial root system that intercepts moisture from rains. A tap root system will also anchor the tree firmly in the ground, as sudden gusts of wind can uproot a seemingly

Miti April-June 2011

A two-and-a half-year-old mukau plantation in Kiambere. (All photos BGF)

stable tree. The first batch of in-vitro plantlets will arrive in Kenya in April, to be tried out at BGF’s pilot plantation in Kiambere.

Site preparation Site preparation and plantation establishment is the next step. Moisture stress and lack of rain in general require a total cleaning of the planting plots. As planting distances are wide (4x4m to 5x5m) not all soil is left bare, a needlessly costly operation, but spots or strips along the planting line are completely cleared of grass and weeds. Planting is year-round, with irrigation as required. This is expensive, but avoids serious strains on labour, seedling production and logistics to plant the whole year’s target in a few weeks in November, the only month during which rains can really be counted upon. All measures that limit water losses are applied. These include repeated mulching and making small basins (“half-moons”) around individual seedlings, and establishing check dams or other erosion-combating structures. To give the freshly planted seedlings a boost, they receive fertiliser rich in phosphorus, to stimulate fast development of their root system. Soil conditioners based on water-absorbing polymers have not yet been tried, but trials are on the cards.

Maintenance Maintenance consists mostly of weeding (keeping the competition out), pruning, thinning and firebreak management. The weeding as practised now is a combination of strip ploughing

Miti April-June 2011

Two Melia volkensii seedlings produced “in vitro” showing good root development.

between the tree lines, and spraying of a chemical weed-killer (glyphosate) in the lines. The strip ploughing is very important to capture and stop any run-off as no protective soil cover is in place. In the future, more attention will be paid to soil structures to conserve moisture, and their layout to stimulate tree growth.

SITES AND SOCIAL ASPECTS These two go together, as we shall see. The big planting blocks are mostly lands leased from ranching societies that acquired them from the government in the 1970s and 80s, but for various reasons (drought being a prominent one) never managed to turn their land into productive use. BGF now works in: (i) Kiambere, on land assigned to Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA), with

300ha to be planted by the end of the year. The site is on the banks of Lake Kiambere, on river Tana, at an altitude between 750-850masl. Soils were previously under agricultural use, and have been severely eroded and depleted of fertile topsoil. (ii) Sosoma, a compact block of 60,000ha in Mwingi East, bordering Tana River district, where preparatory works are in progress. Rainfall is low, with an annual average of 300500mm, and highly irregular. Altitude is equally low (400-550masl) and temperatures high (mean annual temperature 24-30oC). This area is arid to the east, and is becoming worse in this era of climate change. (iii) Nyangoro, on 21,000ha of a ranch in Witu (Lamu district), where 160ha has to be established by the end of 2011. The southern boundary of the area borders the MalindiLamu road, but the northern boundary goes towards Ijara district, quickly becoming semiarid. BGF has an MoU with a commercial farm in Kibwezi (Mukuyu Farm) for demonstration and training purposes regarding horticultural and agroforestry practices in drylands. Communities neighbouring the sites are given priority in employment. BGF pays special attention to gender parity. As a rule, 30 per cent of the employees must be women. Currently, BGF employs 130 people in Kiambere and 60 in Nyangoro. A significant evolution is taking place in Mboti, a primary school in Nguni division, bordering Sosoma. The area is semi-arid, and


local farmers survive through subsistence farming and keeping some livestock, mostly goats. Interestingly, they know the mukau tree and are willing to grow it for cash. In fact, they are already doing this in a small way, by leaving mukau trees in the midst of their fields while clearing the bush. Despite the dry climate, and thanks to the growing in an agroforestry outlay, they sell the logs by the age of eight years (25cm DBH) for a good price. An out-growers movement is being set up, embedded in an umbrella development committee with concern for water supply and micro-credit facilities for the local community. BGF has proposed assistance to smallholders to plant mukau in an elaborate scheme where BGF partly pays for the establishment costs in kind, and the beneficiary does the same as well as paying an amount in cash. In case the smallholder cannot comply, a micro-credit institution assists, guaranteed by BGF. A special provision is made for adapted crops like green grams as a short-term agroforestry cash crop. Mukau seedlings are raised locally, for which water is required. BGF has pledged to establish water infrastructure, starting with a borehole, from which the whole community will benefit. A great deal of capacity building is planned, not only in tree growing and producing mukau logs of acceptable quality, but also in running the borehole in a sustainable and profitable way. No easy task, as all the ASAL of Kenya are littered with water infrastructure works that have been run down and no longer function. The school itself has been refurbished through a grant from ChildAfrica, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) founded in Uganda by Rino and Julie Solberg. ChildAfrica builds schools and offers a decent education to disadvantaged children. This model integrates tree growing with water supply, micro-credit provision and educational assistance. The rationale is that BGF provides a stable log market through a nearby sawmill, serving both its plantations and the out-growers. The plan is to extend this pilot project into the buffer zone of all BGF plantations, creating a friendly environment. It is a model for development designed for poor dryland areas with few alternatives for income generation. Information that is more detailed is available at The writers are the Technical Director and Managing Director respectively, of Better Globe Forestry. Email: and


Mystica (Ruby Villanueva Cassidy), Managing Director of Better Globe Marketing Philippines, with Mboti Primary School children.

Jean-Paul Deprins (right), with Pieter Quaegebeur, DemonstratorInstructor, Construction & Mining at Bergerat Monnoyeur CAT (Belgium) in front of BGF’s latest purchase - a D6M LPG.

Jean-Paul Deprins with Prof Stefaan Werbrouck in the “in vitro” propagation laboratory at the University College of Ghent (Belgium). The laboratory is full of bits and pieces of mukau, all growing in little pots.

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BGF’s mukau (Melia volkensii) nursery in Kiambere - the biggest mukau nursery in the world! Hardening off of mukau seedlings.

Mboti Primary School in Nguni (Eastern Mwingi district). The roof catchments and water tanks were donated by ChildAfrica. BGF’s nursery in Kiambere. A view of the propagator and tunnel section, where fragile mukau seedlings germinate and grow in a protected environment before hardening off in the open. (All photos BGF)

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Exploring new horizons The new Forest Act involves communities in forest management By Erastus N. Kibuka


he Kenya Forest Service, a corporate body, was created under the Forest Act No 7 of 2005. Its operation is directed by this law, which commenced in February 2007, after having had the draft Forest Policy, the Kenya Forest Master Plan (KFMP) and the Environment Management and coordination Act (1999). The Forest Act (2005) and the draft forest policy have their origin in KFMP which proposed far-reaching measures to support forestry development in Kenya. The Act, whose key thrust is the creation of strong forest governance institutions, also expands the mandate for forestry development to cover all forests on state, local authority and private lands, a major departure from the previous law, which only applied to state forests. The new Forest Act 2005 addresses national and global challenges, which were not addressed in the old Act. The shortcomings of the old Act include;• Failure to address the management of other forests other than state forests (gazetted ones) • Failure to incorporate the participation of other stakeholders in forest conservation and management. • No strict measures to prevent the conversion of forestland into other uses and lacked harsh measures for forest destruction.

What is participatory forest management (PFM)? • An arrangement where key stakeholders enter into a mutually enforceable agreement that


Illegal charcoal burning inside a gazetted forest. Participatory Forest Management can be a great force for better protection of forests. (Photo KFWG)

defines their respective roles, responsibilities, benefits and authority in the management of defined forest resources. • A management that involves the active participation of forest adjacent community representatives and registered community associations, as well as other relevant stakeholders in the use, management and conservation of a forest area or part thereof.

What is the vision for PFM? It is to improve forest conservation and the livelihoods of forest adjacent communities through:• Ensuring forests are conserved and managed in a way that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the rights of future generations by safeguarding environmental and biodiversity benefits. • Promoting improvement of the livelihoods of forest adjacent communities in all strategies

and actions designed to conserve and manage the forest. • Encouraging and facilitating public participation in the management and conservation of forests. • Facilitating greater public awareness of the cultural, economic, and social benefits of conserving and increasing forest cover. • Promoting equitable sharing of forest benefits within special focus on disadvantaged groups; with emphasis on women and the poorer section of the community.

Characteristics of PFM. a) PFM as a process is;• Sharing information, negotiating an agreement, clarifying rights and sharing roles, responsibilities and benefit from forest management and utilization between key stakeholders. • Goes beyond signing of agreements to

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implementation, monitoring and adaptation of agreed management systems.

b) PFM as the product;• A mutually enforceable PFM agreement. • A forest Management plan prepared in participatory manner. New forest Act 2005: Provisions for Community involvement in forest management. The new forest Act 2005 was achieved through serious lobbying by different stakeholders. This gave hope to communities who were interested in PFM. The Forest Act 2005 was approved by Parliament in July 2005 and received Presidential assent in November 2005. The Act provides the following provisions for community involvement in forest management. • Promotes formation, registration and empowerment of CFAs section 46 (1 & 2). • Provides for communities to make application for management rights of either a site in state or local authority forests section 46 (2). • Provides for representation of local forest communities in forest management decision making through institution like CFAs, FCC section 13. NB. CFAs are the major tools for implementing the PFM concepts.

Forest Conservation Committee Definition: A Forest Conservation Committee (FCC) is a committee based in a conservancy area or part thereof (ecosystem) to advice the Forest Board on all matters relating to the management and conservation of forests in that area. The Forest Conservation Committee (FCC) is included in the New Forest Act 2005 section 13. It has a membership of 10 members. The members of the committee, except the chairperson and the forest officer in charge, are to be nominated by different institutions and stakeholders, which are explained in the Forest Act as Provincial Administration, timber merchant association, ministry of agriculture, NEMA, and four (4) persons nominated by forest associations operating in the conservancy. The objective of the FCC is to enhance the wider objective of the reform process of improved forest management and sustainable economic development through (i) decentralisation of decision making, (ii) participation of stakeholders in decisionmaking and (iii) cross sector cooperation.

Functions of the FCC: Section 13 (3) of the Forest Act defines the

Functions of the FCC. They are as follows:

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A forest adjacent community is sensitised about Participatory Forest Management. (Photo KFWG)

(a) Inform the Board on the ideas, desires and opinions of the people within the forest conservancy areas in all matters relating to the conservation and utilisation of forests within such areas; (b) Monitor the implementation of this Act and other forest regulations within the area; (c) Review and recommend to the Board applications for licences and renewals thereof; (d) Regulate the management of forests in the conservancy area, including the setting of charges and retention of income; (e) In consultation with the Board, assist local communities to benefit from royalties and other rights derived from flora or fauna traditionally used or newly discovered by such communities; (f) Identify areas of un-alienated Government land or trust land to be set aside for the creation of forests; (g) Recommend to the Board the establishment of forest division conservation committees; and (h) Perform such other function as the Board may require or delegate to it.

PFM concepts, they need a management a plan followed by a management agreement. About 40 Participatory Forest Management Plans (PFMP) have been drawn and have been launched (approved) by the Director of Kenya Forest Service. Signing of Management Agreements with respective CFAs is ongoing. Forty per cent of the FCC membership is from CFAs, giving them a great advantage in decisionmaking. This means that, very soon, the slogan could become, “Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to assist the community manage the forests unlike when the community was called to come and assist the Forester manage forests.”

CFA Challenges a) It is intended that one CFA should operate in one station and come up with one management plan. In some stations, we have more than one CFA. b) Lacks funds for management plan drawing by CFAs. c) Issue of entrepreneurship activities by CFAs not automatic e.g. sawmilling, etc.

Community Forest Association (CFA):


Definition: It is a group of persons who are registered as an association under the Societies Act (CAP108) and who are resident in an area close to the specific forest. The communities usually have a traditional association with a forest for purposes of livelihood, culture or religion.

While practicing PFM, the community is saying! “It is ours, we will look after it” In the absence of PFM, they say! “If you only want us to look after your forest, then we will do so but demand more and more benefits and/or payment from you for doing so”.

CFA achievements

The writer is Assistant Director, Kenya Forest Service – Kisumu Zone Email –

So far, we have 325 registered CFAs with the Registrar of Societies. For a CFA to implement the


A forest adjacent community working at a tree nursery. The community produces seedlings both as an income generating activity and as support for forest conservation and maintenance. (Photo KFWG)

CFAs as vehicles to a better life Opportunities for better forest management and improved livelihoods; emerging scenarios By Musingo Mbuvi


orestry management in Kenya has gone through two management regimes. The first regime was where forests were owned and managed by communities through tribal authorities. The responsible communities had exclusive rights to set forest management and user regulations. This regime has almost entirely been replaced by government owned and managed systems except in very few forests in the country. These few exceptions are religious forests and inaccessible isolated forests where communities manage and “own� the forests by default, like Mukogodo and Loita forests. These two management regimes had an exclusive forest product access system and benefits sharing mechanisms. The year 1990 ushered in a third phase of forestry management, with government and community jointly managing


forests while the government retains ownership rights. The process started in earnest with initial piloting in 1997. Most forest adjacent communities (FACs) have formed organisations in order to participate effectively in this alternative forest management regime. The community structures are legally referred to as Community Forest Associations (CFAs). Through the CFAs, the communities can be invited into joint forest management with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) through a jointly signed agreement, the Forest Management Agreement (FMA). This management regime is now being practised in over 100 forests and five CFAs have signed FMAs with KFS. In Kenya, this forest management approach is known as Participatory Forest Management (PFM). This refers to the involvement of FACs and other stakeholders in resource management within a

framework that improves their livelihoods.This phase is being introduced on the premise that it would contribute to better forest management and improved livelihoods of FACs and equitably also benefit the other stakeholders. Though this phase is at its infancy in implementation, its institutionalisation would largely depend on how it would contribute to better forest management and improved livelihoods of the FAC. The success will also depend on political goodwill and devolving of power by the responsible body, the Kenya Forest Service. This management regime is bringing change to the way stakeholders collaborate to manage forests for better results and improved livelihoods. The emerging trend is pointing towards a scenario where communities are benefiting with potential for more benefits. The perception by forest adjacent communities in areas where PFM

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has been practised is that the forests are well protected and informal access to forest products is hardly possible. The CFAs are multi-functional organisations with a strong bias towards rural development in addition to forest management. The rural development contribution has been limited to a few activities, with seedlings for sale, woodlots, beekeeping, butterfly farming and eco-tourism being replicated by most CFAs. The other common income generating activities starting to pick up in selected forests include mushroom farming, fishponds and crop farming. The challenge though is that in most forests, informal benefits still outweigh the PFM related benefits. To draw forest adjacent communities to PFM, investments should be put in place to ensure that informal and existing formal access of forests is outweighed by benefits and values based on PFM. Equally important would be to build capacity of FAC to enable them to manage the resource as expected.

Level of PFM implementation Participatory Forest Management in Kenya is at various stages of implementation, with the oldest site being over 10 years and most other sites below five years. In addition, a traditional community-based forest management approach has been practised in Loita (Naimina-Enkiyio Forest) where communities are completely responsible for the management of the forest and the government seems to recognise this. The perception of PFM by forest adjacent communities and other stakeholders varies from forest to forest. PFM is interpreted as everything from non-residential cultivation in Kereita forest, income-generating activities in Arabuko-Sokoke Forest to community ownership and forest management like in Loita. At the same time, in forests where the government has overall control like Buyangu (Kakamega Forest), PFM is perceived to be pre-determined forest access. Government officers view PFM principally as a means for achieving better forest management while civil society views it as a means of reducing poverty for forest adjacent communities. These different perceptions affect how PFM is implemented. Loita Forest provides a completely different form of PFM, namely traditional community-based forest management, which illustrates that communities are able to manage resources without destroying them. However, it is evident that the system is facing challenges emanating from changing socio-economic situations. In high potential forests, the CFAs control access to forest and allied resources.

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Arabuko Sokoke Forest (a gazetted forest of 41,600ha), at the coast, the site of the first national PFM in Kenya. With assistance from the European Union, the community introduced the first income generating activity on butterfly rearing. (Photo KEFRI)

Recent developments in the implementation of PFM There are emerging implementation trends in the field, which require in-depth analysis. These include: • In forest stations where more than one CFA existed, they have formed an umbrella CFA to conform to the Act. These CFAs have not been de-registered or remodelled nor their functions re-defined. As a result, the organisations remain independent functionally, but structurally appear as one. There is also need to understand the most appropriate size of a CFA, and subsequently what area of forest it can effectively manage, as has been done in other countries. • Some CFAs are mega-structures whose management is not feasible, just by the distance to meeting venues and the transport costs borne by CFA officials to attend meetings. • Communities in most forest stations have formed CFAs and held elections without awareness of what is expected of the community and the CFA officials in the new dispensation. This has led to multifarious outcomes, like having officials who cannot effectively lead the community and adequately participate in negotiations and forest management. • There is a tendency for retired members of the country’s elite to be elected to leadership positions in CFAs, further excluding the rural populace who were the anticipated beneficiaries. Although the elite are necessary, there is need to create a system of integrating them with the rest of the community in CFAs. • Re-crafting existing community-based organisations into CFAs to meet the legal

requirements for registration to participate in forest management, without adequate training. This has seen the registration of NGOs and other legal entities like trusts into CFAs to conform to the law. • Most forest sites are leaving out the poor and disadvantaged members of forest adjacent communities, falling short of the key objective of CFAs. This can be changed by insisting on a pro-poor approach being a requirement for partnership,

Salient PFM values • Potential to distribute benefits across all social groups. • Improve forest governance. • Empower communities and other stakeholders. • Institutionalise mechanisms to address the needs of the poor and less advantaged in society.

Factors that may affect PFM implementation Though the process is gaining momentum, there are management issues that are affecting its implementation. These include: • The high initial costs of initiating PFM and supporting income generating activities is a de-motivating factor contributing to low PFM benefits and low PFM membership. This is particularly discouraging participation in areas with alternative high economic return activities such as tea growing. • Forest and forest products access regulations (especially the fees to be paid) may favour the well-off in society, excluding the poor who are a major target of PFM. • Lost opportunities due to time spent participating in meetings keep the very poor away from their daily survival activities.


• The costly and lengthy process of registering as a CFA under the Societies Act and then the requirement that it forms a subsidiary company in order to do business. • Lack of a pro-poor clause to facilitate inclusion of the poor and disadvantaged members of society. • Institutional functional differences with some people having undue influence and power, leading to one stakeholder hijacking the decision-making process. • Mismatch of PFM institutions with existing ones, like the Oloibon structure in Loita. • Failure by the facilitating organisation to be flexible and dynamic. • Failure to match forest type and size to the geographical conditions (forest and farmlands), an area a defined CFA can manage effectively. • Potential PFM impact can affect the products that a community can access, stakeholders and donor interest that it can arouse, as these have a direct relationship with income generating activities that could be initiated. • Policy changes are required, mainly on enacting subsidiary legislation; finalising review of PFM guidelines and other related regulations and putting in place mechanisms to institutionalise PFM. • Failure to identify PFM’s success pillars, recognising that in Kenya the success of PFM in a specific forest has to be hinged on one or two key income generating activities (like butterfly farming, beekeeping, eco-tourism and natural products extraction) because timber exploitation is not feasible. • CFA/KFS/PFM operating boundaries: There is also need to define how the CFA boundaries relate with the KFS administrative structure and general government administration boundaries. In sites where KFS is leading the process, the CFA are following the KFS management structure boundaries whereas in areas where civil society is leading, the CFAs are following the provincial boundaries, placing more emphasis on the village. The latter is placing more emphasis on livelihoods while the former is likely to support better forest management. This situation requires resolving through a consultative process. • Failing to have an elaborate and systematic capacity building programme as required for successful PFM implementation.


An example of how local initiative has captured donor funding; an eco-tourism project to protect Lake Elmentaita. (Photo KFWG)

Achievements of PFM Although it is too early in most instances to show what this management phase has achieved, a number of encouraging achievements serve as incentives. These include: Grants: The communities are increasingly fundraising for conservation and development. CFAs have accessed forest conservation and community livelihood improvement grants from the government and multilateral donors. Rural development: CFAs have established rural cottage industries that have provided employment, improved community livelihoods and rural infrastructure. The last three years have witnessed communities start rural honey refineries with marketing outlets in local shopping centres and large retail outlets (supermarkets). Key infrastructure development dotting the country includes elephant fences. Capacity building: This has been done and witnessed members of the community participate in several development forums. CFA officials are members of location development committees, which plan what development is to be undertaken in the area. Partnerships: This has been done with several organisations. National forum: This is a national body formed as a confederation of CFAs. This is modelled within the Nepal set-up where the Federation of User Groups (the equivalent of CFAs in Kenya) has over 15 million members. If each member were to contribute one rupee (Ksh 1), what would be the economic impact? Empowering women: Apart from women retaining their traditional treasurer positions, they have also taken leadership positions in several CFAs even in communities that are socially patriarchal.

standards through providing cash for purchase of books and school uniforms. The surplus cash is being re-invested in rural development through village saving schemes. This is contributing to a better life through purchase of assets like chicken, goats and iron sheets for better roofing and construction of toilets.

Current and potential PFM benefits It is hard for the community to earn a direct income from the forests because they are generally managed for biodiversity conservation and as water catchments. In most forests, communities are bearing the highest costs of management.

PFM’s likely benefits include: • Income generating activities, with beekeeping and sale of seedlings being the major ones. • Informal access of forest products like timber, poles and grazing grounds. • Water for irrigation. • Employment for marginalised groups in society. • Improved forest condition and biodiversity conservation. • Improved livelihoods of forest dependent communities. PFM can contribute to better forest management and improved livelihoods of the community even at the household level. PFM has proved to be popular and is being adopted in most forests in the country. There is need to define forests that can be managed under PFM early enough. In order to enhance these benefits further, there is need to develop a national PFM implementation strategy. The writer is a researcher at the Coast Eco-Regional Research Programme of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Malindi Email:]

Contributing to social and economic development: Income generating activities related to PFM have started improving education

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A whiff of holy perfume

Frankincense is found in the drylands of north east tropical Africa By Francis Gachathi


rankincense and myrrh are mentioned repeatedly throughout the Holy Bible. When God spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, He commanded that the holy anointing oil should contain prescribed quantities of myrrh (Exodus 30:23) while the sacred perfume or incense should contain pure frankincense (Exodus 30:34). However, frankincense and myrrh are best known through the story of the Three Wise Men (Magi) delivering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn Jesus in Bethlehem (Mathew 2:11). However, although many of us are able to recite this familiar biblical story, few are able to state what exactly frankincense or myrrh is. Miti issue 8 gave a brief account on myrrh. But what is frankincense? Frankincense, also called olibanum, is the fragrant gum resin obtained by making incisions into the trunk of some trees of the genus Boswellia in the plant family Burseraceae. After the trunk is cut, aromatic sap oozes out of the tree and slowly hardens on the stem. The hardened mass is the famous frankincense that has been valued from ancient times in burnt offerings in the worship of God (Leviticus 24:7), as incense and as perfume and medicine (Song of Solomon 3:6; 4:14). This substance has been traded for over 4,000 years and today remains an important article of commerce on the international market. There are about 17 Boswellia species in the drylands of northeast tropical Africa, each producing a slightly different type of frankincense. These trees are particularly found in Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Somaliland, and are well adapted to the very hot and dry conditions. The trees are generally medium-sized, with pale yellowish-brown bark with outer flaking papery layers and compound leaves, often clustered at the tips of branches. The trees shed their leaves after the rains to limit evaporation and help them cope with the climate. Just like the related genus Commiphora growing in the same ecological conditions, Boswellia is able to perform photosynthetic activities through special layers in its bark, even in the absence of leaves. This is one of the reasons it has a papery bark that peels off. This way, the tree discards opaque layers that no longer allow light through. The best frankincense, and probably the type delivered to baby Jesus, is derived from the tree

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2 1. Cleaning and selecting of frankincense in a warehouse in Burao, Somaliland. Inset: A lump of the precious commodity. 2. Collecting frankincense from Boswellia frereana at Hodhgoble, Somaliland. (All photos by KEFRI)

Boswellia sacra, found in Somaliland, Yemen (Hadramaut) Oman (Dhofar) and southern Arabia. In Roman times, it was as valuable as gold. Another high quality frankincense is obtained from Boswellia frereana, also found in Somaliland.

Both species occur along the coast of the Gulf of Aden, growing out of rocks, without soil, attached by a thick oval substance resembling mortar. They occur in stands known as hiji (frankincense gardens), which are jealously protected. High production areas are found in Erigavo District of Sanaag Region. These two types of frankincense are, to the present day, still major export commodities from Somaliland and hundreds of tonnes are exported annually to the Middle East, Europe and Asian countries. It is most valued for use particularly in the Coptic, Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches, in temples as well as mosques. Local names for the tree B. sacra in Somaliland include lufod, mohor, mohor add, mohor madow and moxor while the frankincense is known as beeyo, a name sometimes also used for the tree. Boswellia frereana is called yagar or yagcar, while the frankincense is known as maidi or meydi. Apart from its use as incense in religious ceremonies, frankincense is now widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, aromatherapy and perfumery industries. It is chewed as gum and burnt to repel mosquitoes and other insects. The writer is a plant taxonomist at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI)


Miti at SPGS clients’ meeting Something is stirring in Uganda and it’s good to be involved By Jan Vandenabeele


he Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) in Uganda held its annual clients’ meeting in March. In view of the high number of participants, in fact two meetings were held, the first one on March 3 and 4, and the second, a week later. Miti magazine was invited, and attended the meeting with relish, to see what was going on at the heart of the Ugandan commercial tree growing movement. There is no doubt that this movement is significant, as SPGS has, since the launch of its grant scheme in 204, stimulated directly the planting of over 20,000ha of trees. The first day of the clients’ meeting was dedicated to a field visit to Mayuge district (just East of Jinja, on the shores of Lake Victoria) where Green Resources AS, through its Busoga Forestry Company (BFC) has established a pine plantation in the Bukaleba Central Forest Reserve. The second day saw a morning meeting at the Sun Set Hotel in Jinja, to address questions and concerns of investors and exchange information. This event was strictly for investors/ owners, not their plantation managers, to make sure the messages got home. And messages were aplenty. The event was well attended, with an audience of 80 - 90 people, SPGS staff included. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Water and Environment, David Obong, was present, demonstrating that the Ugandan government accords recognition to the SPGS programme. The event was well planned and organised, with three stops on the first day: • BFC’s tree nursery that has a pine section and another of eucalypt clones • A plantation site • BFC’s pole treatment plant in Jinja Allan Amumpe, the project manager, welcomed everybody and made sure the whole event stayed on track, respecting the programme. He introduced me, battling to pronounce my name. Every participant received a document holder with a copy of Miti magazine. BFC has leased at least 5,000ha from NFA and has so far planted 700ha of pine trees (Pinus caribaea varhondurensis). Some of this was done with assistance from SPGS, although this might be withheld if an encroachment issue is not solved (see below).

Nursery In the nursery, a point of interest was SPGS’s nursery certification scheme. To receive an


Celia Nalwadda (SPGS staff) showing a double-action spray pump for fire control. At her feet are firebeaters, an effective and cheap tool that can easily be produced locally.

SPGS grant, growers must use quality seedlings bought in an approved (this is, certified) nursery. And these seedlings have to be ordered well in advance of the planting season (March-April) otherwise the nursery cannot plan and execute its production. A minimum advance payment of 30 per cent is required. BFC’s nursery was certainly approved, with homogeneous pine seedling beds and clonal multiplication hedges for eucalypts. SPGS’s staff gave expert explanations and answered the many questions of the investors/growers. The staff had clearly rehearsed their expositions, as these were simple, short and to the point. This is not that straightforward when for instance one has to explain a clonal propagation programme for hybrid eucalypts to a non-scientific audience that is not afraid to pose questions! The clonal propagation of eucalypts was seen in its various steps - a preparation, I guess, for a future emphasis on fast-growing eucalypt plantations, a move away from the current dominant pine. Then the whole party moved to a stand of Pinus caribaea var hondurensis for technical explanations on lining out of seedlings; use of a soil conditioner; marking for thinning; fire protection and a discussion on encroachment.

Lining out of seedlings (creation of planting lines) The innovation exposed here was the use of a “cross-head”, meaning a wooden cross on top

of a stick, with nails at the extremities of the cross, meant to function like a gun-sight. It is a useful alternative to the “3, 4, 5 method” 1 to set out right angles. Instead of a rope, a steel wire knotted together at the required planting distance (e.g. 3m) is more secure than a rope, and more durable.

Use of a soil conditioner Soil conditioners (hydrogels) are becoming increasingly more popular in South African plantation establishment, especially when planting in suboptimal conditions. As with all polymers, the conditioner will be more effective in sandier soils. It is applied to the planting hole, surrounding the seedling, already soaked in water, to make sure the full capacity of the polymer is used (1 g of Aquasoil will absorb some 130g of water). The brand name of the hydrogel demonstrated was Aqua-soil, and it is enriched with fertiliser to eliminate the need for further fertiliser applications. (However, at US$ 35/kg, it is expensive.)

Marking for thinning Thinning is a crucial operation for production of big diameter logs, and as much as thinning is disliked by investors because the first thinning does not bring any income, it still has to be done. A simple marking method was shown, cheaper than the previous one explained. The plantation is divided into little plots of 24 trees, and a thick 1 This is the triangle of Pythagoras: a=(b2+c2) -1/2

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Walter Mapanda (SPGS staff) showing the next tree to be thinned (Pinus caribaea var hondurensis). Note the plastic rope lying in the middle of the 24-tree plot.

plastic rope is laid down in the plot’s middle and from there the required selection of trees is done. Trees are to be marked with inexpensive paint.

Fire protection Several fires, big and small, had ravaged plantations of SPGS clients in the preceding weeks, as the rains delayed. On display were several technical means to fight fires, like fire beaters, double-action pumps and even a 500ltr tank mounted on a pick-up. However, the best line of defence is preparedness with trained people and physical infrastructure like firebreaks (6m wide). Rapid intervention is crucial, hence in periods of fire danger a work force has to be at hand at all times. There was keen attention by the growers, and lively interaction with SPGS’s technical staff.

Busoga Forest Company’s pole treatment plant in Jinja. (All photos BGF)

Encroachment This is a big problem, and driving through the plantations one sees a large illegal settlement inside the Central Forest Reserve (CFR). During lunch (sandwiches or meat pies and a drink), the manager of the local BFC operations explained their predicament, and several other investors backed him, showing that the problem is not confined to Bukaleba. Encroachment is indeed a national problem, and mostly politically motivated. The PS, Mr Obong acknowledged this, and dwelt on the matter in detail. However, political problems are sometimes difficult to solve, and probably only the combined weight of the investors, demonstrating the economic extent of their involvement, can help to turn this page. This is not a trivial matter, as without security of land tenure, private investment in afforestation will go down, and the country is still far from attaining sufficiency in timber production. This is illustrated by the table below. Plantations in Uganda Initiator

Area (ha)






Other, private




Now in place


Expected by 2013


Required by 2020

Estimate by P. Jacovelli; the 150,000ha figure is from a consultancy report by Unique East Africa Ltd.

BFC’s pole treatment plant In the afternoon, the whole party moved to the outskirts of Jinja, to visit BFC’s pole treatment

Miti April-June 2011

plant. This is a new establishment, only 10 months old, buying eucalypt poles from various sources, at various prices. They have been supplying Umeme2, and have their operation well under control. There is quite some waste wood, which will be converted into charcoal. An important point for the growers was the emphasis on the quality demands of the industry, which require adherence to strict criteria for pole production. Growers need to be aware of the requirements of the market, but can do much themselves by planting good quality seedlings. Afterwards, everybody (except the PS) retreated to his or her respective hotel, for social interaction in the evening. This did not lead to excesses, as most people showed up in the meeting room next morning.

Clients’ meeting

programme was quite impressive, and notebooks were circulated through the meeting, with people signing up for training events. The training includes nursery management, plantation management, weed control, fire protection and disease control, chainsaw operating, contractor management, forestry investment management and community management. The training sessions last between two and 10 days, depending on the type. Participants pay for the training but the fees are subsidised by SPGS. There was a question and answer session, where growers submitted written questions that were answered by SPGS staff. Miti was allowed a slot to present itself, resulting in the immediate sale of a subscription. Overall, the clients’ meeting was a remarkable event, and hopefully, will lay the foundation of a forestry tradition for Uganda.

SPGS’s management went through the key points of the previous day, and gave a progress report of the organisation’s performance. The training

The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry

2 Umeme is the electricity distribution company in Uganda.


Greening the country

Despite challenges, NFA forges ahead with re-afforestation programmes By Moses Watasa


he National Forestry Authority (NFA) is a semi-autonomous body established under the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003. NFA’s mandate is to manage and conserve Central Forest Reserves (CFRs) in Uganda and to supply quality forestryrelated products and services to the government, private sector and communities. The 506 CFRs in Uganda fall into two broad categories i.e. natural forests and plantations forests. Natural forests with largely indigenous trees like mvule and mahogany support the eco-systems, water sources, ecological (environmental) balance and bio-diversity conservation. Plantation forest reserves, with largely imported fast-growing trees like pine and


eucalyptus are mainly for supply of timber and wood-fuel. All conservation activities and interventions in CFRs are professional and derived from and guided by forest management plans that NFA develops and implements. Thus, NFA undertakes boundary demarcation and maintenance, establishes forest infrastructure like roads, undertakes protection-oriented patrols, raises and distributes quality fruit and tree seedlings, plants trees and supports forest-adjacent communities under Collaborative Forest Management (CFM) to establish conservation-friendly projects within and around CFRs. “Our target every financial year is to plant up to 25,000 hectares of trees. In natural forests,

Despite the dominance of pines and eucalypts, planting of indigenous species is not forgotten in Uganda. Here we see msisi (Maesopsis eminii) and Terminalia superba in Malube, along the Kampala-Mubende road.

we undertake restoration planting to aid and speed-up regeneration specifically in those parts degraded through encroachment and illegal felling of trees. In plantation forests, we plant trees consistently to ensure that harvesting is proportionate to replenishment so that the country has sustainable supplies of timber and fuel-wood,” says Hudson Andrua, NFA’s Acting Executive Director. Since CFRs are public assets, the national Forestry and Tree Planting Act, 2003 and the National Forestry Policy of 2001 require that they are managed under partnership arrangements. Thus, NFA has an aggressive outreach programme that seeks to involve other government actors, civil society and communities

Miti April-June 2011

to protect CFRs and promote tree planting across the country. “Apart from directly employing over 150 people from forest-adjacent communities as patrolmen, NFA also provides subsidies to locals for non-consumptive forest-related projects like bee-keeping, tree nursery establishment and eco-tourism to boost incomes and livelihoods,” says James Ndimukulaga, NFA’s Director of Natural Forests. Under such partnerships, NFA has also realised support from corporate bodies like Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), MTN-Uganda, Barclays Bank, the British Council, World Vision and NBS-Television to boost re-afforestation within and outside CFRs in Uganda. As a lead agency in the forestry sector in Uganda, NFA has also fully embraced the role of implementing special government projects. Prominent among such projects is the implementation of the national community treeplanting programme enshrined in the manifestoes of 2006-2011 and 2011-2016. Hon Maria Mutagamba, Minister of Water and Environment in September 2008 launched the programme, which prioritises bare hilltops, watersheds and degraded forest reserves. “We are proud to have so far distributed over 20 million indigenous tree seedlings freely to Ugandans under this programme on behalf of the government,” says Mr Andrua. “The programme is continuing and we have ear-marked about six million seedlings for free distribution during the March-June 2011 planting season. ”Under this national community reafforestation project, NFA directly plants some of the seedlings raised with emphasis on ecologically fragile locations. For instance, with the endorsement and participation of the Minister of Water and Environment, Hon Mutagamba, NFA planted over 100,000 seedlings in 2010 around landslide-prone areas of the mountainous Bududa district. “We have planted at specific sites in other districts like Rakai, Jinja, Wakiso, Gulu, Masaka, Mbale, Soroti and Lira. Next, we are targeting bare locations in Karamoja, Mbarara, Kiruhura, Nakasongola, Adjumani and Tororo,” says Mr Andrua. While such efforts by NFA to plant trees and conserve forests are commendable, the forestry body still faces challenges. The cost involved in protecting forest reserves from encroachment, illegal extraction of timber and malicious cutting of trees by hostile elements is increasing. “At the same time, some of our traditional sources of revenue like harvestable trees from plantation forests have reduced,” says Prof Mukadasi Buyinza, NFA’s Board Chairman. “Which

Miti April-June 2011

Under the combined support of the Uganda government (NFA), donors (EU) and private investors, such pine plantations will supply timber to the Ugandan market within 10 years.

Extensive new plantations have been established in the last few years in Uganda. This is thanks to the lease of land in Central Forest Reserves, by NFA, and support of the European Union, through SPGS.

is why I am strongly supporting management to explore alternative funding. We have for instance requested government to step-up budgetary allocation to us, particularly for surveillance around natural forests which require protection but yield little in terms of revenue.” Globally, the economic, social and ecological significance of forests is gaining prominence. For instance, the United Nations has designated 2011 the International Year of Forests, under the theme, “Forests for People”. This is in recognition of the central role forests play in driving social and economic progress through sustainable utilisation of the products accruing from them. More critically now, forests are emerging as vital carbon sinks that the world is relying on to mitigate climate change and global warming. “We conserve these forest reserves in trust for the people of Uganda but also in fulfilment of such global environmental obligations,” says Prof Buyinza. Previous generous support from global development partners like the Norwegian government, the European Union and the World Bank has proved instrumental in forest conservation and tree planting. “More of this development

support is required to close outstanding funding gaps to deal with the current complex conservation challenges,” adds Prof Buyinza. The challenges notwithstanding, NFA is looking ahead. “We thank the government for establishing an Environment Unit under the Uganda Police Force,” says Prof Buyinza. This is significant in view of the fact that three NFA officers were murdered in recent years while on duty. “With this police backing, NFA staff will be safer and be more effective regarding protection of forest reserves,” Professor Buyinza notes. The benefits from planting trees and protecting forests transcend the political, social and religious spectrum. NFA would therefore like to see all political, religious, cultural leaders, corporate bodies and communities join the organisation to protect forest reserves and plant trees. As the lead agency, NFA is available to provide seedlings and the requisite technical support. The writer is the Public Relations Manager, National Forestry Authority – Uganda Email:


Borrowing from the ancient world

Jessours are a practical way of harvesting water in drylands By Herman Verlodt

A jessour with olive trees (Olea europaea). Note the barren surrounding where only tufts of grass can survive. Also, note that this jessour is one in a row, as there is another downstream.

Note of the technical editor: Jessours, just like tabias treated in earlier issues of Miti, are a practical way of harvesting water in drylands that is applicable to Kenyan ASAL. In fact, climate change is making it more and more difficult to plant trees in those areas, and these soil works, expensive though they might be, provide a sustainable solution to productive land use. Jessours are one of the most important traditional hydraulic techniques used in agriculture in the south of Tunisia, where the mean annual rainfall is less than 200mm. The jessours technique was developed during the Roman period, about 2,000 years ago, and is practised in the region of the Nefzaoua mountains (in Tunisia) and in the Matmata mountains which lie between Tunisia and Libya.

Description A jessour is in fact a small hydrological structure typical of arid mountains of the south of Tunisia. It comprises three parts - the dam, the terrace and the catchment.

Jessours use runoff water for agricultural purposes (especially fruit trees and cereals) on land with steep slopes. The structures create an agricultural zone by retention of runoff water and transported sediments.

The dam The dam (called tabia or ketra) is constructed across the talweg1 of a mountain river, or on a smooth slope perpendicular to the slope direction. It consists of a wall made of stones or compacted soil and whose length can reach more than 100m. A transversal view of the wall shows a more or less trapezoidal form with the large base facing the talweg and the small base forming the upper side of the dam. The two other sides form the gfa (oriented downstream) and the oujah (oriented upstream). The height of the tabia varies from 0.5m to 5m. The dams present at least one discontinuity in their longitudinal profile (called masraf and menfess) and which serves to evacuate surplus water towards other jessours downstream. The evacuation of surplus water can be realised through one or two overflows, depending on the case and the width of the dam. 1 The longitudinal outline of a riverbed from source to mouth.


Miti April-June 2011


Tabia or dyke


A jessour in the Tunisian Matmata mountains. Note the embankment made of stones.

The lateral overflow (menfess) is constructed at one or both extremities of the tabia on the contact zone with the slope. It consists in general of a straight wall, constructed of stones and anchored into the tabia, but it could also be unprotected. In most cases, the bottom of the overflow is protected from ravine formation by a layer of big stones. The central evacuator (masraf), is an overflow contained on both sides by a stone wall. The part oriented downstream is constructed as a staircase using cut stones. Within the Matmata mountain in Tunisia, about 70 per cent of the dams are fitted with lateral overflows (menfess) and 30 per cent with central overflow (masraf).

The terrace Upstream of the dam, an almost level zone exists. This is the zone for cropping and fruit trees. In the talwegs, the terraces are often more extended than on the slopes of hills and glacis2. It is in general a flat surface on which runoff water and sedimentation accumulates.

The impluvium or catchment area The impluvium is the capture zone of the jessour. Often, this zone is limited naturally by the partitionAline betweenof different jessours (see sketch). series jessours However, sometimes the natural catchment area is enlarged by deviation of constructed in called a talweg runoff water and this by means of small channels, hammala, or small dikes or walls constructed with stones.

Menfess or overflow The different parts of a jessour

The photo above shows the different parts of a jessour. Note at the upper side the impluvium, in the middle the terrace with trees and collected water; and in the forefront the tabia made of compacted soil and some water running off through a lateral overflow or menfess.

Typology Jessours occupy three essentially distinct sites: • Talwegs of valleys and ravines; • Glacis surfaces; • Smooth slopes of hills. In certain places, the construction of the dam has one primary aim retention of water. This is mostly the case in the zone of Matmata and Beni Khédache in Tunisia, where loess3 constitutes important areas with deep soils. In other places, the dam retains the water as well as the products of erosion, which after sedimentation will constitute the soil of the jessour. This type of jessour is used essentially in the south of Beni Khédache (Ghomrassen, Tataouine), where the loess layer is thin and very often eroded.

The hydro-morphological role of jessours

A series of jessours

The work of a jessour is retention of run-off and sediments.

constructed in a talweg

Retention of run-off A jessour is conceived to retain a certain quantity of runoff water and thus it reduces the volume of water running off and lowering the coefficient of run-off of the catchment area. The water volume retained thus reduces the number of floodings and also the delivery rates and damage caused by excessive flooding during rain storms.


Earthen dyke

Menfess (overflow) 2 An erosional sediment with a slight incline, resulting from intense weathering and surface transport.

Miti April-June 2011

Retention of sediments Run-off water always carries fine or heavier elements originating from the hydraulic erosion of silt. Once these elements arrive in the jessour, water accumulates, forming a pond behind the dam. In the pond, the water loses its turbulence and speed, settling and disposing the transported elements. On the surface of the jessour, the alluvium4 is disposed in more or less stratified layers - the big and heavy particles (gravel or sand) below and on top, the very fine elements (silt and clay). The thickness of the deposited layers is in general one to two metres on jessours with a high retention level (1.5 to 3m). A secondary effect of 3 A soil type formed by sediments, consisting of silt particles (4-64 micron in diameter). 4 Alluvium is loose, unconsolidated soil deposited by run-off


Landscape in south eastern Tunisia. Several jessours have been constructed in the valley seen in the centre of the photo, to capture run-off from the surrounding hillsides. It is clear that without this, the olive trees would not grow.

Disproportion between storage capacity of the jessour and the volume of run-off

this is a decrease of sediments along valleys, depressions and accumulation plains, where the fine material is easily displaced by the wind, sometimes resulting in the formation of dunes.

The majority of dams are equipped with overflows situated about 50cm above the Shortcomings of jessours retention zone and they In spite of their morphological role, thus limit the retention Jessours with date palms (Phoenix dactylifera), an important crop economically, jessours have a number of shortjust like olive trees. Date palms can withstand more drought. capacity of the jessour. comings, which can cause their In fact, jessours having destruction in cases of heavy thun2 a surface of 200m and a retention height of 50cm, with an impluvium of derstorms. 10,000m2, have a retention capacity of only 100m3. This capacity is reached after a run-off of about 10mm on the whole impluvium. Such a runoff is Disproportion between retention area of the jessour and the catchment area attained very frequently and often surpassed in certain djebels 5 such as the Each jessour has its own impluvium, and the area of this impluvium is Beni KhĂŠdache mountains. always too big in relation to the area of the jessour. The ratio of the two areas can vary between 1/1 and 1/100 and even 1/200 jessour area to the Low infiltration in the jessour impluvium area. The water retained by the dam infiltrates slowly, due to the stratification This big disproportion constitutes a problem for the construction of the of the deposited sediments, as the fine material is deposited on top (silt or dam. In fact, if the jessour has a surface of 500 m2 the impluvium can reach clay). This zone can be 10cm thick, and slows down infiltration, and can an area of 100,000m2, and retaining the runoff of this huge area with a cause vegetation to die from lack of aeration in the upper zone of the soil. height of about 20mm water during a rainstorm, will need a dam with a total retention of about 4m, without taking into account water coming from other The writer is a former professor of the University of Tunis, Tunisia and a researcher jessours, situated upstream. specialising in horticulture and irrigation techniques Email: 5 Hill or mountain.


Miti April-June 2011

A still functioning sand dam constructed by Erik NissenPetersen in 1979 on Mukononi river (Kibwezi). No maintenance ever took place, and some erosion has started on the wing walls. Despite the saltiness of the water, 500 - 800 families depend on it for domestic use and for their livestock. (Photo BGF)

Storing water in sand Sand dams are ideal for tapping water from small river beds, but proper construction methods must be followed By Erik Nissen-Petersen and Jan Vandenabeele

This is another article in our series on small and cost-effective ways of obtaining water in drylands. We have already written on: - The availability of water in drylands (Miti issue 5) - Water from dry riverbeds (Miti issue 6) - Shallow wells (Miti issue 7) - Sub-surface dams (Miti issue 8) - Weirs (Miti issue 9)


he definition, description and working mechanisms of sand dams were in fact explained briefly in Miti issue 5. We restate the most essential parts. A sand dam is NOT constructed out of sand, but is meant to STORE a volume of river sand, which – in turn - has the capacity to store water. That is the main function of sand dams - to increase the volume of sand in riverbeds. Sand consists of small, roughly round particles that only touch at certain points, leaving many open tiny spaces called voids, which are filled with either air or water. The bigger the sand particles, the bigger the voids where more water can be stored. Secondly, the bigger the sand particle, the faster water can flow into the voids and saturate the sand. Course sand also makes extraction of water more efficient. Silt consists of small particles less than 0.5mm in size, which can only store a limited amount of water in its voids and only about 5 per cent of water can be extracted from it. Coarse

Miti April-June 2011

sand particles 1.5 to 2.05mm in size can store up to 45 per cent water of their volume when saturated, out of which 35 per cent can be extracted. Sand dams are built of stones mortared together with cement or reinforced concrete. The secret of successful sand dams is in: • Identification of a suitable site on an underground dyke • Design criteria • A spillway built in stages and maintenance of spillover apron and wing walls.

Site criteria • Suitable riverbeds must have two high riverbanks to enable the wing walls to keep floodwater within the spillway, and not flowing over the riverbanks. If it flows over the riverbanks, it will cause erosion, undermine and bypass the structure, thereby rendering it useless. • Dam walls should never be built on fractured rocks or large boulders because these are not watertight. Water will always seep away between the boulders, and not be stored in the sand where it can be extracted, although it will recharge the groundwater table. Instead, dams should be constructed on solid rock or keyed one metre into impermeable soil (like clay and murram).

• Riverbeds with fine-textured sand originating from flat land are also unsuitable for construction of sand dams, because they cannot store enough extractable water. • Wide riverbeds (say more than 25m) are also unsuitable for construction of sand dams because the required reinforcements make the exercise very expensive. Instead, subsurface dams can be constructed, because these require pliable material (clayey soil) that does not crack like concrete. • Salinity of the water is important. A site with any sign of “calcrete” or whitish deposits liked by livestock upstream should be avoided because the extracted water will be saline and only useful for livestock. • Vegetation, for example the presence of mukuyu trees (Ficus spp.), can help to identify a suitable site for a well for a sand dam. • The presence of waterholes, even temporary ones, is proof that water is effectively stored and not seeping away into the underground. • The catchment area drained by the river should preferably include a granitic area with stones or stony hills to provide the coarse sand that is the best storage material for water. • Dam walls should always be constructed on natural underground dykes, which are found by probing with iron rods in the middle of riverbeds. Building on dykes utilises natural water storage while reducing construction costs.


Design criteria and construction procedures The most important criterion is to ensure that floodwater will deposit coarse sand, and not finer soil particles. Many dam reservoirs contain silt or fine sand, from which no water can be extracted. The explanation for this lies in an analysis of how water carries sediment (soil particles). Coarse sand is heavier than soil and silt and is therefore transported in the lowest part of the floodwater. Silt and soil particles are lighter and therefore float in the upper part of floodwater. Where floodwater meets a 30cm-high spillway,

the heavy sand particles will be trapped, while the lighter soil particles pass over the spillway and continue their way downstream the river. Therefore, to harvest coarse sand, the spillway must be raised gradually to its final height in steps of 30cm. If the steps are more than 30cm, the spillway will also trap the lighter particles of silt and clay. Building practices since the African Land Development board (ALDEV) programme in the 1950s have proved the value of the 30cm high steps. When a 30cm stage is filled with sand after a rainstorm, the spillway is raised by another

30cm, and so on until the final level of the spillway is reached. Depending on the frequency of rains, this process can be achieved in one or several rainy seasons. • The design dimensions of sand dams must be able to withstand the force of the flood water and the weight of the sand reservoir: The width of the dam wall is equal to ž or 0.75 times the height of the spillway. The base dam wall must be keyed at least 1m into impermeable soil.

Another sand dam on Mukononi river, also constructed in 1979. It was never maintained and the centre (see inset) and one of the wing walls are being eroded. Still it works. (photos BGF)


Miti April-June 2011

The width of the key must be at least 0.55 times the height of the spillway. The top (or crest) of the spillway should be onefifth or 0.2 times the height of the spillway. In the ALDEV design shown here, the dam is leaning downstream with a gradient equal to 0.125 times the height of the spillway. • The spill-over apron, on which the over-flowing water will fall, must be reinforced into the base of the dam wall, be the same width as the base and extend up to the wing walls. The apron should contain large stones to resist the force of the falling water. • The key under the dam must extend all the way up to the end of the wing walls, otherwise it can be undermined by floodwaters. • The height of the spillway is determined by the maximum height of floodwater that can safely spill over without eroding the wing walls and the


riverbanks. The maximum height of floodwater can usually be known by interviewing elderly residents who can show the highest water level ever reached during heavy rainfall.

Sand dams have great potential for supplying water from small riverbeds with high riverbanks in ASAL. On the other hand, if sand dams are not constructed in the recommended stages, they will become unproductive and useless silt traps (see next article).

Maintenance Sand dams need careful maintenance and immediate repair of the spillover apron and the wing walls because flooding causes hundreds of tonnes of water, with abrasive particles, to fall over the spillway and onto the apron below. Flood water can also spill over the wing walls and erode and undermine the river banks. Privately owned sand dams can be repaired quickly but maintenance and repairs of community-owned dams takes longer, because the community needs to meet and decide what to do and how to pay for it.

More information is available at and under Water Management in and videos on Erik Nissen-Petersen is a consultant on water in ASAL Email: and asal@ Jan Vandenabeele is the Executive Director of Better Globe Forestry Email: Mukau with : A Keny an a brig ht fu dryland Yatta s tree ture fa farm rmer m ing bi ak g bu es tree Interv sines ie s w w Geor ge M ith Ugan ayan dan farm ja er,

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Miti April-June 2011



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Sand dams or silt traps? Poorly constructed sand dams dot our country. They do not work and are a huge waste of money By Erik Nissen-Petersen A beautiful structure. A newly constructed dam in Kibwezi - even the apron is present. But it is useless‌ (Photo BGF)


Sadly, several hundred dams t has been known from the have been built like the Kimuu African Land Development Sand Dam, and are therefore, silt Project (ALDEV) since the traps instead of sand dams. More late 1950s, that the spillways sadly, some NGOs continue to build of sand dams must be raised in sand dams in this hopeless way. stages not exceeding 30 cm in To help builders of sand dams order for floodwater to deposit to design and construct useful coarse sand. If a spillway is not structures, the Kimuu Sand Dam built in stages, then silt will be was investigated and the result is deposited instead of sand and This whole space will be filled up with silt and loam within a couple of years, with no possibility of water extraction. (Photo BGF) hereby presented. very little water, if any, can be 1) The dam wall is 36m long and extracted from such a sand dam has a 17m long spillway with a - or is it a silt trap? height of 2.4m. This spillway is only 0.6m lower than the top of the Another frequently committed sin is bad site selection. The height of wing walls. a riverbank and the presence of a huge rock or a narrow space are not enough to determine the site of a sand dam. Systematic probing is needed to ensure that a well is sunk where the sand is deepest and a sand dam can 2) A 1.5m-deep pit was excavated into the dam reservoir at a distance of 10m upstream of the dam wall and seven soil samples were taken be constructed where the sand is shallowest downstream of the well (on an at different depths (0, 20, 40, 60, 90, 120 and 150cm). underground dyke) if, and only if, the well cannot supply sufficient water. (See the previous article on sand dams.) It is therefore disappointing to see that an NGO built two new sand dams in Kikumbulunyu, Kibwezi last year. Earlier, in 1978–9, the Ministry of Agriculture built Kimuu Sand Dam and another five sand dams. Five of these six sand dams were destroyed by floods after a few rainy seasons. Only the Kimuu Sand Dam still exists but it has never supplied any water since its reservoir is filled with silt because the spillway was not built in the recommended stages.



Only the soil sample from the surface contained coarse sand, with an extraction capacity of 16 per cent water. The other six samples were all silt and loam, from which respectively 2, 2, 10, 0, 12 and 12 per cent water could be extracted.


The 16 per cent extractable water in the upper 20cm evaporates in a few days. The 12 per cent in the deepest layers can neither be extracted nor recharged because of the compacted hard soil layers above it.

Miti April-June 2011

The Kimuu Sand Dam from where no water has been extracted ever since it was built.

Mr Mumo’s sand dam in Kibwezi, built in 1979. It is still intact, after all these years, but is full of silt and even grown with grass. This is how the new structure of the previous photos will look like within some years. (Photo BGF)

A failed sand dam. The spillway was too high and could not handle the floodwater, which went around the wing walls (on the left hand side of the photo) and eroded its way into a new riverbed. (Photo Erik Nissen Petersen)

Sand storage capacity The volume of water that can be extracted from a correctly constructed sand dam depends on the coarseness and volume of sand that is contained in the dam. The maximum volume of extractable water is equivalent to 35 per cent of the total volume of the sand. The volume of sand in a sand dam can be estimated using the following formula1: Q = L x T x D where Q is the sand storage capacity, or volume, in cubic metres, 6 L is the length of the dam wall in metres at full sand level D is the maximum depth in metres, and T is the maximum length of the surface in metres.

Conclusion on Kimuu Sand Dam The failure of not raising the spillway in stages has resulted in Kimuu Sand Dam not having any water since it was built 32 years ago. It could have supplied 227 cubic metres of water after each flooding and during the rainy seasons, all those years.

Height and width of the spillway

The sand storage capacity of Kimuu Sand Dam can therefore be estimated as: 25 m x 2.4 m x 65 m = 650 cubic metres 6 The supply of water from Kimuu Sand Dam, at 35 per cent extraction capacity, could have been: 650 cubic metres x 0.35 = 227 cubic metres of water, if the spillway had been built in 0.2-metre stages.

The final height and width of spillways are critical for sand dams. If a spillway is too high and/or too narrow, the excess floodwater will pass around the lowest wing wall, remove the riverbank and create a new course, leaving the sand dam high, dry and useless (see photo). The width of a spillway should be equal to the width of the sand level. The recommended maximum height of a spillway can be estimated by deducting the maximum flood level (MFL) from the height of the lowest riverbank (LR). (See diagram). In this example, the recommended maximum height of the spillway should be 1m (MFL 3m minus LR 2m).

1 Reference: ‘Field Engineering for agricultural development’ by N.W.

Erik Nissen-Petersen is a consultant on water in ASAL Email: and

Hudson, 1975

Miti April-June 2011


Calendar of Events Investment Forum: Mobilizing Private Investment in Trees and Landscape Restoration in Africa: Nairobi, May 25- 27, 2011 A young eucalypt plantation in Transmara district, Kenya. Since eucalypts grow fast and are marketable, they are the species of choice for a woody cash crop. As long as the trees are not planted in wetlands and are at least 30m away from streambeds, the threat to drying out the soil is really exaggerated. (Photo KTDA)

The primary objective of the Forum is to explore the potential for private sector investment in tree-based production, marketing and processing opportunities for bringing about landscape restoration in key African countries. This would achieve the “triple wins” of increasing rural incomes, making yields more resilient in the face of climate extremes, and making agriculture a solution to the climate change problem rather than part of the problem.

From banker to tree farmer

The Forum will bring together about 150 representatives of leading private sector financial institutions, forest and agribusiness companies, local communities, smallholders, national forest associations and highlevel national government policy leaders.

By Lillibet Semakula

The Forum will be hosted by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in collaboration with the World Bank Group, the Program on Forests (PROFOR), IUCN and EcoAgriculture Partners.

The story of an enthusiastic and eager tree grower


worked with Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) for 17 years before I resigned in 2007 to become self employed. When I worked with UCB’s Information Technology Department, we used to go out of the capital city to install new banking system programmers and to train bank employees on their usage. In 1999, our team travelled to Ishaka, Rukungiri and Kabale districts in western Uganda. We drove past a beautiful forest and the head of our team (who was born and grew up in that area) commented that the owner of the forest had over 50 acres of commercial forests. He added that the owner had been in commercial tree planting for over five years and had separated his plantation into blocks of 10 acres each with a plan of yearly harvests from the different blocks in the years ahead. “He will never be poor again.” I heard our team leader say. I thought the forest business was interesting especially because it would bring an income and at the same time improve the environment. I decided to venture into commercial tree planting in future with a plan of setting up a resort area where people from the city would go to recover from work stress. The hunt for land on which to grow trees intensified in 2008 and was finalised in 2009 when I acquired land in Kayabwe, 80kms from Kampala on the Kampala-Masaka highway. Originally, two of my friends and I were looking for a big piece land that we could buy, share out and plant trees. The exercise of acquiring land had many difficulties. To commit myself to this tree-planting venture, I begun by planting and managing a Eucalyptus tree seedlings nursery that would feed the forest when I acquired the land for it.


The nursery and the actual tree planting did not go well. I made costly technical and financial blunders. I did not get technical advice from the right source. The statistics were not quite right and in the end pushed my budget up so much that I could not cope. I would seek advice from many people and discuss the problems I was facing with different people who were in the same tree planting business. This information sharing and solution seeking led to referrals and advice, some of which helped me achieve the little that I have achieved so far. One of the referrals led me to Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) where I was told I could get the most practical commercial tree growing advice, as well as some financial help. So my next step was to visit SPGS’s office in Bugolobi, where I was received warmly and was advised on many tree-planting issues, ranging from planting quality seedlings to the need to weed trees well. I was then advised to apply so that I could open the way for further support. After I submitted my application, the SPGS technical staff visited my site to approve it for tree planting, giving me relevant practical advice on how to move my plantation forward. After this encouraging visit, the next step was to sign a contract. I am at this stage and hope to get at least a 25ha grant. This grant, as all tree growers will confirm, is crucial in assisting us plant and maintain our trees well. The writer is an SPGS applicant from Mpigi, Uganda This article first appeared in the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme magazine No 30 Dec 2010 – Feb 2011. It is reproduced by the kind permission of SPGS, the publishers.

More information will be posted online as it becomes available: profor/events/investment-forum-mobilizingprivate-investment-trees-and-landscaperestoration-africa

International Climate Challenge (ICC) ‘Young Change-Makers Conference’ Kenyatta University – May 24 to 27, 2011. The conference is planned as an interface and forum for learning between young people and the wider society. It will provide showcase space for school projects and organisation exhibits, as well as a forum for discussion. The conference will be held at the Kenyatta University ‘Art Zone’ complex, a spacious venue with seating for 1,000 people, with numerous display areas and discussion rooms. Accommodation and catering facilities are of high quality and close to the conference venue. For more information, please contact: Greig Whitehead Programme Manager, ICC Kenya Tel: 020-2153231 / 0732-299200 or Catherine Gitahi Communications Manager Tel: 20-2077761 / 0722-256655

Miti April-June 2011

Better Globe Forestry Ltd

Making Africa greener

Making Africa greener Better Globe Forestry (BGF) is part of The Better Globe Group from Norway, which focuses on the need to fight poverty through promoting massive tree planting and sustainable agricultural programmes. BGF’s vision is to create secure commercial projects with vital humanitarian and environmental activities and as a result become the biggest tree planting company in the world within 20 years.

Land in Kiambere before planting. Note the omnipresent soil erosion

The mission of BGF is to make Africa a greener, healthier place in which to live and eradicate poverty by focusing on the development of profitable, commercial tree plantations that will deliver environmental as well as humanitarian benefits. Miti magazine is a publication of Better Globe. It is the policy of BGF to, among other things:  Create attractive financial opportunities for present and future investors, Continuously identify and address the needs of employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders, the community at large and any other stakeholders,  Focus on the need to help fight poverty, through promoting massive tree planting  Create and sustain motivation throughout the organisation for meeting its business objectives,  Continuously maintain and review an effective and efficient Quality System which as a minimum satisfies the requirements of the appropriate Quality System standard(s),  Continuously improve the performance of all aspects of the organisation.

Workers clearing a thicket in Nyangoro in preparation for tree planting

Our nursery at Kiambere

A two-year-old plantation of Melia volkensii in Kiambere

Workers in BGF’s plantation in Kiambere, after receiving a food donation

A Melia volkensii plus -tree part of our genetic improved programme

Preparing for planting in Kiambere

The committee of Witu Nyongoro ranch with Rino Solberg and Jean-Paul Deprins

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MITI 10  

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