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The baobab tree is truly multi-purpose Saving Kaptagat forest Down memory lane Secure your future, invest in forestry

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The right tree for the right zone

Know the best indigenous species to plant in your area

Private forests in Uganda today

Is there hope for their conservation and survival?

Water in all seasons

Inexpensive pans, ponds and earth dams can supply water all year, even in drylands

Ripe for industrial production The Kenyan market is ready for large-scale charcoal-making

How much of Kenya is under forest? Different definitions of tree cover

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





34 Issue No. 16 October - December 2012




Ripe for industrial production

We need to recognise the economic value of forests



Yes, producing the fuel sustainably saves trees and alleviates energy poverty By John Ngatia Mathenge

Working together for the common good


Charcoal for improved tree cover

Charcoal dust supplies affordable fuel, conserves the environment and addresses indoor air pollution By Mary Njenga, Nancy Karanja, Miyuki Iiyama, Jacob Kithinji and Ramni Jamnadass


How much of Kenya is under forest?

Using different definitions to assess tree cover in the region By Christian Lambrechts


Forestry through the years

A history of forest management and development in Kenya By Paul Konuche


Lessons from the past

Looking back and forward into forestry in Uganda

By Michael Sizomu–Kagolo


Private forests in Uganda today

Is there hope for their conservation and survival?

By Gerald Eilu


Down memory lane

My 45 years in the forestry and timber sectors in Kenya

By Charles Bengough


Exploring new frontiers

With dwindling supplies of wood from public forests, hope lies with private tree-growers By Mwaniki Ngibuini and Joshua Cheboiwo


Saving Kaptagat forest

We need to put conservation action in place now, to save Kenya’s “bread basket” By Paula Braitstein


The right tree for the right zone

Know the best indigenous species to plant in your area


From NGO to private company

KOMAZA is slowly making a difference to life in Ganze and the surrounding areas By Jan Vandenabeele


Securing the future

Investing in commercial forestry is the way forward, says Ugandan doctor turned tree-grower By Diana Ahebwe


Truly a multi-purpose tree

The baobab provides food, medicine, containers, clothing and a host of other items By Rupert Watson


Reading the landscape

Farmers can build inexpensive pans, ponds and earth dams to provide water for all seasons, even in drylands By Erik Nissen-Petersen


Well done, envoys tell SPGS

They urge for more support for the forestry sector in Uganda By Diana Ahebwe

On the cover: Is this a forest? Yes, it is dryland woodland with enough tree cover (10 – 40 per cent). As such, Kenya’s forest cover can be as high as 6.2 per cent (see the lead article). The photo was taken in Sosoma, Eastern Province. The species on the photo is Commiphora baluensis (itula, hagar), here twisted and stunted, but in more humid circumstances a big and beautiful tree. During the rainy season, you won’t recognise this place. (Photo: BGF)

Mukau: A Kenya n drylands tree with a bright future Yatta farmer makes tree farming big business Interview with Ugandan farme George Mayan r, ja

The baobab tree is truly multi-p urpose Saving Kaptag at forest Down memor y lane Secure your future, invest in forestry Subscri Sold ption only by subscrip tion only

Issue No.16 Octob er Decem ber

The right tre for the righ e Know the best t zone indig

enous t in your area

species to plan

Private forest in Uganda tods ay Is there

hope conservation for their and survival?

Water in

all seasons Inexpensive pans , ponds and can supply wate r all year, evenearth dams in drylands

Ripe for ind

The Kenyan markustrial produc tion et is ready large-scale char coal-making for

How much is under foreof Kenya st? ition

Different defin

s of tree cove




We need to recognise the economic value of forests


ccording to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), forests and woodlands occupy an estimated 650 million ha or 21.8 per cent of the land area in Africa, which is 16.8 per cent of the global forest cover. The distribution of forests and woodlands varies. Northern Africa has the least forest cover while Central Africa has the densest cover. The Congo basin in Central Africa is home to the world’s second largest continuous block of tropical rain forest. According to a World Bank report released in 2011, the forest area in Kenya was last reported at 6.09 per cent. Forest area is land under natural or planted stands of trees of at least 5 metres, in situ, whether productive or not. Forest area excludes tree stands in agricultural production systems (for example, in fruit plantations and agroforestry systems) and trees in urban parks and gardens. FAO classifies Africa’s forests and woodlands into nine general categories. These are - tropical rain forests, tropical moist forests, tropical dry forests, tropical shrubs, tropical mountain forests, subtropical humid forests, subtropical dry forests, subtropical mountain forests and plantations and lastly, mangrove forests. Only 32.5 million ha of forests and woodlands, or 5 per cent of the total forest area in Africa, are formally protected. Government forest departments, wildlife services and environmental ministries in East Africa spend, on average, less than US$3 per hectare on managing indigenous forests as they find it difficult to raise enough funds to adequately manage forests, despite their importance. As much as the public knows and understands the ecological value of trees, many underestimate the economic importance of forests. One reason might be that statistics usually only take into consideration the output in timber products. However, this is only a fraction of the value as forests yield a wide range of non-timber products as well, many of which are consumed only at the household level. The non-marketed value of such forest resources is immense. As an example, fuel wood is the primary and often only source of energy for 95 per cent of the population in Tanzania. In Kenya, over 90 per cent of rural households use fire wood for cooking and heating, while 80 per cent of urban households depend on charcoal as a primary source of fuel for cooking. Moreover, forests also have a cultural, spiritual and heritage value. Forests remain one of East-Africa’s most undervalued resources. They are often ignored in economic policies and strategies in favour of agricultural activities. East African governments rarely promote enterprises and technologies aimed at sustainable forest uses. This has a devastating impact on forest cover and land use, which in turn puts into jeopardy potential economic opportunities in the short, medium and long term. Enjoy the reading. Jean-Paul Deprins.

Published by: TQML LTD No. 4, Tabere Crescent, Kileleshwa P.O. Box 823 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya Tel: + 254 20 434 3435 Mobile: + 254 722 758 745 Email:

Uganda office: MITI MAGAZINE ® Plot 1908/9, Mitala Rd, Kasanga P.O. Box 22232 Kampala, Uganda Mobile: + 256 414 269 599 Email:


Chairman of the Editorial Board:

Technical Editor

Rino Solberg

Jan Vandenabeele

Editorial Committee

Country Director - Uganda Julie Solberg

Joshua Cheboiwo, Francis Gachathi, Keith Harley, Enock Kanyanya, James Kung’u, Rudolph Makhanu, Fridah Mugo, Jackson Mulatya, Mary Njenga, Alex Oduor, Leakey Sonkoyo, Jean-Paul Deprins, Jan Vandenabeele and Wanjiru Ciira

Country Representative - Uganda Diana Ahebwe



Jean-Paul Deprins

Daniel N. Kihara

Managing Editor - Kenya


Wanjiru Ciira

Miti October - December 2012

Email: Payment - Kenya: Cheque payable to: Total Quality Management Leadership Ltd. or bank transfer to Standard Chartered Bank - Ac. No. 010 209 473 8400 Nairobi MPESA: Pay Bill No. 888300 Account: Miti

Payment - Uganda: Cheque payable to: Total Quality Management Ltd. or bank transfer to Crane Bank Ac. No. 45 17 64 74 00 Kabale branch, Kabale Road, Uganda


Working together for the common good SPGS clients meet to learn technical skills and tackle challenges By DIANA AHEBWE


he Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS), which funds the establishment of timber plantations in Uganda, keeps in touch with its clients through regular meetings. One such meeting, organised by the Uganda Timber Growers Association (UTGA) with technical support from SPGS, was held last May. The theme of the meeting was “Thinning and extraction of thinning products, from the plantation to the road-side before loading.” The meeting was attended by over 40 clients in the “central cluster” of Nakasongola, Luwero and Nakaseke. Many of the clients are not foresters but business people who have invested in plantation forestry. What is thinning? Thinning was defined as removal of individual living trees from a plantation before the final harvest, with an objective of relieving the trees from competition. Indicators for thinning were discussed, and include height, diameter and crown size. Age should not be used as an indicator but rather a reminder of when to thin because different species mature at different times and according to the site. The main indicator to be used is the basal area. Clients were advised that if the basal area is greater than 20m2/ ha irrespective of age and spacing, then the stand biologically is in need of thinning. The basal area should be thinned back to 15m2/ ha in order for the trees to utilise the site fully. Determining the basal area was demonstrated using the Bitterlich stick which is locally made and cheaper than the Relaskop instrument. The latter is expensive with many functions that are not needed in this regard. Extraction of thinnings Three methods of extracting logs from a plantation were demonstrated, namely: • Human labour: This method involves using human beings to carry logs from a plantation

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:

Extraction of small-sized logs by oxen. (Photo: Miti)

being a cattle corridor. Members were advised to maintain good relations with the communities around them. This can be done through employing the communities in the plantations, compensation and making use of the local councils in the area. For better service provision by UTGA, clients were advised to nominate one cluster head who would take their views and complaints to the Association.

to the roadside. This is seemingly expensive, slow and risky to human health. On average, two people can carry 30 logs per day. • Bogie Sulky: This is operated manually by one or two people depending on the terrain. It does not require maintenance or fuel to operate. The Bogie Sulky can carry up to 500 kilograms. • Sledge: The third method demonstrated was the use of a sledge or slider made from hard curved springs, which cannot be worn out easily. The instructors guided trained cows to pull the sledge. Training of the animals starts at three years and they take 1 - 2 months to master the skill.

Observations The presentations were very well done and the members appeared to have gained valuable information, both in terms of basal area inventory and skidding methods.

Challenges faced by members in the central cluster Clients in the central cluster mainly face the challenge of encroachment by grazing cattle, this

Conclusion The clients’ meeting was a worthwhile experience and a good opportunity for interaction between people who are passionate about forestry and are eager to learn and improve their tree-planting businesses.

The Editor Miti magazine P.O. Box 823 – 00606 Nairobi, Kenya. Email:

The writer is the Country Representative – Uganda, Miti magazine. Email:

OR Miti magazine P.O. Box 22232 Kampala, Uganda. Email: Miti Magazine-Africa’s Tree Business Magazine


Miti October - December 2012

An aerial photo of very dense forest, with canopy cover higher than 70 per cent, typical of East African montane forests (e.g. Mt Kenya). (Photo: Christian Lambrecht)

How much of Kenya is under forest? Using different definitions to assess tree cover in the region By CHRISTIAN LAMBRECHTS


ow much forest do we have in Kenya?1 Over the last few years, much attention has been given to increasing the forest cover in Kenya. Recent studies have documented the strong dependency of key economic sectors on the environmental services provided by forest ecosystems. This has led to the realisation that investing in forests, in particular in the water towers where most closed canopy forests are located, is necessary in order to secure economic development, human well-being and environmental stability. In this context, a key conservation goal as set

1 This article derived from: Lambrechts C., Løyche Wilkie M., Rucevska I., Sen, M. (2009). Vital Forests Graphics. UNEP, FAO, UNFF. Available at

Miti October-December 2012

out in Vision 2030 - Kenya’s development blueprint – is to increase forest cover by 50 per cent. Vision 2030 also identified five flagship environment projects for the period 2008 - 2012, one of which is “The Water Catchment Management Initiative”. This calls for rehabilitating the five main water towers, namely Mau, Mt Kenya, Aberdares Range, Cherangani Hills and Mt Elgon. More recently, the 2010 Constitution calls upon the State “to achieve and maintain a tree cover of at least ten per cent of the land area of Kenya.” In order to assess progress made in achieving these targets, it is essential to know the status of, and trends in, the forest cover in Kenya. A prerequisite to assessing forest cover is to define what constitutes a forest.

What is a forest? A study2 carried out in 2008 of the various definitions of forests found more than 800 different definitions for forests and wooded areas in use around the world. Different definitions are required for different purposes. For example, a definition used in an assessment focusing on the availability of timber for commercial or industrial purposes may exclude small wooded areas and some types of forest not considered to be of commercial value. A definition based on physical characteristics, such as the canopy cover, will most likely be used for assessing the forest extent, whilst a definition 2 Lund H.G. (2008). Definitions of forest, deforestation, afforestation and reforestation. Forest Information Services. Available at http://home.


based on botanical characteristics, i.e. variety of tree species, will be used for assessing various classes or types of forest. Different definitions will also be required depending upon the scale of the assessment. A definition developed to suit the needs of any given ecosystem or country is unlikely to be applicable at a global level. Conversely, the definition used for an overall assessment carried out on a regional or global level is unlikely to satisfy more detailed ecosystem or national level requirements. Forest may be defined differently, depending on the person defining them. A business person or economist might define and value a forest in a very different way from a forester, a farmer or an ornithologist. Different communities are likely to have a different perception of what constitutes a forest, depending on their sociocultural and geographical situations. They will define merely as a “forest” what a forester will define as “wooded savannah”, “montane forest” or “rainforest”. Defining what constitute a forest is not just an academic consideration. Depending on the definition used, the assessed forest cover extent can vary tremendously, as illustrated in Fig 1, where different definitions based on different tree canopy cover values are used.

Figure 1: Global forest extent based on different tree canopy cover values

Global forest definitions and their application to East Africa To estimate forest cover at regional and global levels, some common definitions have been developed. These definitions are very broad, so as to encompass all types of forests – from tropical forests, to temperate and boreal forests and those in semi-arid and arid regions. The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has been assessing the world’s forest resources at regular intervals. Its Global Forest Resources Assessments (FRA) are based on data provided by individual countries, using the following agreed global definition of forest: • A minimum threshold for the height of trees of 5 metres; • A minimum crown cover of 10 per cent (canopy density determined by estimating the area of ground shaded by the crown of the trees). The 10 percent threshold of crown cover encompasses both open and closed forests; • A minimum forest area size of 0.5 hectares; • Urban parks, orchards and other agricultural tree crops are excluded from this definition – as are agroforestry systems used for agriculture. To assess the state of the world’s closed forests, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has conducted one global Table 1: Forest cover in East Africa based on FAO and UNEP definitions FAO (2005) (minimum 10% crown cover)

UNEP (2001) (minimum 40 % crown cover)

Forest area (Ha)

Forest area as % total area

Forest area (Ha)

Forest area as % total area



























Sources: Hansen M.C., DeFries R.S., Townshend J.R.G., Carroll M., Dimiceli C., Sohlberg R.A. (2003). Global percent tree cover at a spatial resolution of 500 meters: first results of the MODIS vegetation continuous fields algorithm. Earth Interactions, Volume 7(10): 1–15. Houghton R.A. (2003). Revised estimates of the annual net flux of carbon to the atmosphere from changes in land use and land management 1850 - 2000.Tellus 55B:378 – 390. Kirkup P. (2001). Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2050: application of speciesarea relationships to assess the impact of deforestation on the diversity of tree species. Master of Research thesis, University of Edinburgh.

Miti October - December 2012

Table 2: Key forest cover-related assessments Year


Executing agency (Sponsor)

1963 - 67

Timber volume in indigenous forest



Forest cover in the entire country based on Landsat


1986 - 90

Forest cover in the entire country based on Spot satellite imagery

DRSRS (France)

1991 - 94

Forest area and timber volume in protected forests


1991 - 92

Timber volume in plantation forests

FD (FAO / New Zealand)


Forest cover in the entire country based on Landsat satellite imagery

DRSRS / FAO-Africover

assessment which was based on remote sensing to ensure compatibility across countries. The assessment employed the definition criteria of a minimum crown cover of 40 per cent. A comparison of the assessed forest covers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, based on FAO and UNEP definitions, is given in Table 1. The assessed forest covers based on the two definitions differ substantially. In the case of Kenya, the forest cover based on the FAO definition is 3.6 times higher than that based on the UNEP definition. This is mostly due to the difference in the minimum crown cover threshold (10 per cent vs 40 per cent). It must be noted that the time difference of four years between the FAO and the UNEP assessments can only account for a difference in the range of 5 per cent, which is negligible compared to the difference of 260 per cent between the two figures.

Forest definition and forest cover in Kenya In the Forest Act 2005, distinctions are made between plantation forest and indigenous forest, as well as between State forest, private forest and local government forest. These distinctions refer to different management regimes and ownership. However, they do not provide technical criteria upon which the forest cover in Kenya can be estimated. Over the years, a Acacia-Commiphora bushland in Eastern Province. This is forest, but generally not recognised as such. The photograph was taken during the rainy season. (Photo: BGF)

An aerial photo of an open forest, with a canopy cover of between 10 and 40 per cent, typical of ASAL. (Photo: Christian Lambrecht)

number of national forest assessments have been conducted in Kenya on an ad hoc basis (see Table 2). Unfortunately, the methodology used and the scope of these assessments differed, making it difficult to compare their results and to assess forest cover changes over time. These ad hoc assessments may, however, give an idea of the extent of the closed canopy forest cover in Kenya: KIFCON (1994) estimates was 1,240,000 hectares; UNEP (2001) 984,000 hectares; and FAO-Africover (2000) 1,185,189 hectares. In the absence of technical definition of what constitutes a forest in Kenya, global definitions have often been used. In particular, the UNEP definition with the associated estimation of 1.7 per cent of forest cover has been widely used over the past 10 years. It is interesting to note that the 2010 Constitution has circumvented the issue of forest definition by referring to “a tree cover of at least 10 per cent” and not “a forest cover of at least 10 per cent”.

Learning from others Some tropical countries have been at the forefront in assessing forest resources. In India, a federal agency - the Forest Survey of India - was established in 1981 to assess and monitor forest resources on a regular basis. Since 1987, the Forest Survey of India publishes every two years the State of Forest Report3. Like Kenya, India has a broad diversity of forest types related to a wide range of altitudes, rainfall patterns, temperature, soil composition and human interactions. To capture this diversity, India has adopted a forest definition with multiple classes: • Open forest: 10 - 40 per cent of crown cover; • Moderately dense forest: 40 - 70 per cent of crown cover; • Very dense forest: more than 70 per cent of crown cover. In addition to capturing the diversity of forest types, this definition also makes reporting to international organisations, such as FAO and UNEP, easier as the crown cover thresholds of these organisations are reflected in the multiple classes of the definition. Maybe an example to learn from… The writer is the Executive Director, Rhino Ark Charitable Trust Email:

3 Available at

Miti October - December 2012


Farm forestry side by side with eucalypt plantations for fuel. The trend today is to use firewood for curing tea, not fossil fuels. Tea factories increasingly buy wood from private farmers to supplement their needs. (Photo: KFS)

Forestry through the years A history of forest management and development in Kenya By PAUL KONUCHE


orests in Kenya play an important role in the provision of environmental services and products needed for socio-economic development. Since the beginning of the last century, forests in the country have primarily been managed for protection of soil and water resources. Demarcation, reservation and protection were the main forest management activities in the early years of the last century. To sustain wood production, forest plantations were developed from the late 1920s, using fastgrowing exotic species. At independence, forest cover was 3 per cent of the total land area of the country. However, due to rapid growth in human population, this has declined steadily. To sustain future wood production, development of farm forestry has received high priority since the 1990s. Research and training institutions have also been strengthened in order to enhance the development of the forest sector. This article outlines the history of forest development in Kenya since 1891.


Policy and legislation The first legislation on forest management in Kenya was enunciated in 1891 and provided for protection of mangroves in Vanga, south Coast. In 1902, the Forest Department was established. Between 1891 and 1963, eight other legislations were published in the form of Forest Ordinances. These legislations supported forest demarcation, reservation and protection. The last Forest Ordinance was issued in 1954 and it transferred the responsibility of forests from the Governor to a minister. In 1957, White Paper No. 85 was published as the first Forest Policy document for Kenya. The policy objectives were forest reservation and protection, management of forest reserves on sustainable yield basis, development of the forest industry, promotion of research and training. After independence, the Forest Ordinance of 1954 was amended and the Forest Act, Chapter 385, enacted. This was followed by a review of the 1957 Forest Policy in 1968 but the policy

objectives remained the same. The Forest Act was again revised in 1982 and 1992 with a few modifications.

Management of indigenous forests Most of the existing forest reserves were gazetted in the 1930s. The reservation process involved demarcation, survey and gazetting. However, the process was carried out without involving local communities and the people who were evicted were not compensated. Most of the gazetted forests were also located in high potential areas suited for agriculture. In some forest blocks such as the Mau, forest dwellers were allowed to remain in the forest. This became a problem later as the Forest Department has not been able to evict them to date. By the end of British rule in 1963, the gazetted forest area covered about 3 per cent of the land area of the country. Apart from forest reservation, other management activities during the colonial period

Miti October - December 2012

were mainly law enforcement and exploitation. The latter was done through selective cutting of valuable species such as cedar, Elgon teak, podo and camphor, which had been over-exploited at independence. During the colonial period, sawmills were the main wood-based industries in operation. After independence, forest protection, licensing extraction of produce and maintenance of infrastructure such as roads continued to be the main forest management activities. Exploitation of indigenous forests using selection system also continued. In 1982, however, a Presidential directive banned logging in indigenous forests, including bamboo forests. In 1986, the Nyayo Tea Zone Development Corporation was established to develop tea strips to act as buffer zones between agricultural land and indigenous forests. The forest area cleared for planting tea is estimated as 11,000 hectares and this represented a major reduction in forest cover.

Forest plantations development At the beginning of the last century, there was concern that the growth of indigenous forests was inadequate to meet the future timber needs of the country and the policy objective of managing forest estates on a sustainable yield basis would not be achieved. At the same time, it was realised that some exotic species were faster-growing compared to indigenous species. In 1907 therefore, the then Chief Conservator of Forests, David Ernest Hutchins, started a programme of planting exotic trees. The first plantations were established with eucalypts and Australian acacias to produce firewood for the

Uganda railway. Cypresses (Cupressus lusitanica and C. macrocarpa) were later planted. In 1912, a new Chief Conservator of Forests, E. Battiscombe, favoured the planting of indigenous species and planting of exotics was suspended, but it resumed in 1927.From the early 1930s, the shamba system was adopted as a cheap method of establishing forest plantations. The system relied on squatter labour to grow trees alongside agricultural crops for the first three years. After the Second World War (1939 – 1945), the plantation programme gained impetus when an annual planting target of 2,400 hectares was set. In 1955, the planting target was raised to 4,800 hectares per year. Just before independence, a long-term Forest Industrial Development Plan with a target of planting 136,000 hectares of timber and 24,000 hectares of pulpwood by 1980 was prepared. The new government continued to implement the plan, even after independence. From 1969 to the mid-1980s, the plantation development programme received funding from the World Bank and the target of planting 170,000 hectares of industrial plantations by 1980 was achieved. However, replanting of harvested areas in the mid-1980s became a problem because the shamba system was no longer effective and the structural adjustment programme of the 1980s reduced funding to the Forest Department. In addition, the shamba system was abolished in 1989 as the squatters were increasingly using political pressure to have some of forest areas excised for agricultural settlement. Inadequate funding led to poor plantation establishment and a backlog of replanting harvested areas and carrying out silvicultural operations.

The softwood established after the Second World War reached full rotation age in the 1970s and 1980s. The plantation-grown wood therefore became the major source of industrial wood and several wood-based industries were started. These included six pulp and paper mills, three plywood mills, one fibreboard mill and two particle board mills. Among the pulp and paper mills, the Pan African Paper Mill at Webuye was the largest. Others were small and produced recycled fibre-based packaging paper and tissue. By the mid-1990s, there were 450 sawmills in the country, but most were small.

Tree planting on farms On-farm tree planting started in the 1930s when white settlers established windbreaks and shelter belts in their farms. The African Land Development Programme (ALDEV), prepared under the Swynerton Plan of 1954, promoted tree planting by Africans in their farms as a means of controlling soil erosion and conserving water catchments outside forest reserves. This was the period when farmers adopted the growing of cypress, eucalypts, Grevillea robusta and black wattle. The latter was also grown on a larger scale by white settlers for production of tannin. On-farm tree planting continued after independence. In 1971, a Rural Afforestation Extension Scheme (RAES) was started by the government to promote tree planting outside forest reserves. The 1970s and 1980s were periods of intensive tree planting, mainly because of political support. Apart from the Forest Department, other players that promoted tree planting in farmlands were the Agricultural Extension Service of the Destruction of forest in Lamu for farming activities. Clearing of indigenous forests outside protected (gazetted) areas still goes on. (Photo: BGF)

Miti October - December 2012


Cypress (Cupressus lusitanica) was identified during the colonial days as a promising timber species. The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) manages some 50,700ha of cypress plantations, although its management was affected by the “Presidential ban on logging” that even stopped the prescribed thinnings. (Photo: KFS)

Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Energy, the Permanent Presidential Commission on Soil Conservation and Afforestation (PPCSCA) and many NGOs. With the establishment in Nairobi of the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in 1976, agroforestry became an important strategy of promoting tree planting in densely populated areas of the country. Through a social forestry project started in 1986 with the support of the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA), KEFRI also played an important role in promoting tree planting. The project built the capacity of middle level extension staff over a period of 15 years. A survey carried out in the early 1990s showed that tree cover had increased significantly outside forest reserves in high potential areas of the country.

Forestry research and development A forestry research unit was established in 1934 under the former Forestry Department. The unit later became a research branch and undertook research in silviculture, forest entomology, forest pathology and wood utilisation. In 1948, the East African Agriculture and Forestry Research Organisation (EAAFRO) was established in Muguga, near Nairobi, by the East African Community. It addressed regional forestry concerns common to Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika (now Tanzania). EAAFRO had a Forestry Division which carried out research in tree breeding, forest pathology, forest entomology and catchment hydrology. The organisation was disbanded after the collapse of the East African Community in 1977. The research branch of the Forest Department was converted into a Research Conservancy in


1973. In 1981, forestry research was transferred to the newly established Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI), which was integrated with the former Forestry Division of EAAFRO to form the Forestry Research Department. Then in 1986, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) was established, through the Science and Technology Act, Chapter 250, as an independent research institution. Following this development, the forestry research programme was expanded to include new disciplines like agroforestry, social forestry, biotechnology, socio-economics and seed technology.

Education and training During the colonial period, Londiani Forest Training School was the only institution providing technical training in forestry in the country. It was started in 1957 to train practically-oriented forest technicians and sub-professionals. The few Kenyan professional foresters who joined the Forest Department in the early 1960s had received their training outside Kenya. After independence, Londiani College continued to train technical and sub-professional foresters. However, a crash programme was started in 1965 at Egerton Agricultural College to train sub-professional foresters to replace the British who left Kenya. In addition, a Forestry Training Centre (FITC) was established in 1965 at Nakuru to train workers from wood-based industries in order to improve productivity and efficiency of sawmills. In 1976, FITC received support from the Government of Finland through the Finish International Development Agency (FINNIDA). However, FINNIDA support ended in 1988 and activities slowed down due to lack of funding.

EAAFRO had a Forestry Division which carried out research in tree breeding, forest pathology, forest entomology and catchment hydrology. The organisation was disbanded after the collapse of the East African Community in 1977.

Forestry education at professional level in Kenya started in 1977 when a Department of Forestry was started at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nairobi. In 1984, the department was transferred to Moi University in Eldoret. In addition, a Department of Wood Science was established at Moi University in 1984. Egerton University also has a Department of Natural Resources which offers forestry courses for professional foresters. Since 1990, however, few graduates have been employed by the main institutions in the country, leading to a decline in student enrolment in the universities. Before the late 1990s, postgraduate training was mainly undertaken in overseas universities. However, this has changed and local universities now offer postgraduate training up to PhD level.

Forestry Master Plan Forest management in Kenya began to decline by the late 1980s as the policy and legislation were no longer relevant in addressing the challenges faced by the country. In 1994, preparation of a Kenya Master Plan, which led to preparation of new policy and legislation, was completed. Some of the key elements of the draft policy include: • Expanded mandate in the management of all types of forests; • Involvement of communities and other stakeholders in forest management; and • Transformation of the Forest Department into a semi-autonomous Kenya Forest Service. The draft policy has not been published but a new legislation was enacted in 2005 and created the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), which is now operational. The writer is a former Director of KEFRI

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A plantation of Pinus caribaea var hondurensis in Mubende district. Despite recent expansion and international assistance (SPGS programme), private plantations in Uganda cannot cope with the shortfall in timber that is already making itself felt. (Photo: BGF)

Lessons from the past Looking back and forward into forestry in Uganda By MICHAEL SIZOMU窶適AGOLO


or a long time, Uganda was acclaimed for its good climate, which favoured agricultural production. The natural richness of the country was attributed to its abundant forests and tree cover or green vegetation as a whole, which exhibited luxuriant fruitfulness. All these were a result of fertile soils and high annual rainfall. Tropical High Forests (THF) and woodlands management as well as plantation establishment and development have accordingly been going on, despite difficulties that have arisen from time to time.

Forest reservation, policy and legislation A Scientific and Forestry Department was created in 1898 to promote forestry, becoming the Forest Department proper in 1927. The colonial masters signed agreements with the kingdoms of Buganda and Toro in 1900, then Ankole and Bunyoro in 1901 and 1933 respectively, setting aside areas for forests. In general, these areas were tracts of uncultivated land or land considered as waste, in addition to selected forested land. In Buganda, land ownership was problematic and influenced the apportioning of land to forests. In other regions, the governor exercised his authority and all acquired land was declared crown land, and later, forest reserves. Land survey started in 1904 but reservation and gazetting came in 1932, covering 366,011 hectares for the whole country. First legislation, as Forest Regulations, came into force in 1900 for forest protection and use of forest produce, imposing a permit and due fees for produce cut, but exempting indigenous populations taking produce for domestic use (under a free permit). A Forest Ordinance of 1903

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was revised in 1913 but retained basic principles of the 1903 ordinance. The 1938 Forest Ordinance created native forest reserves to be maintained and controlled by local administrations. These administrations were empowered with management responsibilities for reserves under their jurisdiction. The government negotiated with local administrations to allocate more land for forest reserves under their respective authority. If a district achieved the desired local forest reserves area (percentage of land area) that district was declared to have an adequate forest estate (AFE), which entitled it to collect and utilise revenue from public land in the management of local forest reserves. Local administrations were instrumental in establishment and management of pole and fuel plantations (both central and local). By independence in 1962, only Lango and Karamoja districts did not have adequate forest estates. The first Forest Policy was issued in 1929, setting out the objectives and targets of the government. The 1948 post World War II policy emphasised the role and importance of forests and trees in climate and environmental protection and also in social economic development. Forestry policies and legislation have been amended from time to time, the most recent being in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Records constantly showed that the population was growing fast and the government was urged to acquire more land for forestry. The Forest Department (FD) worked closely with other

agents for that purpose. The Forest Department encouraged private forest owners, especially in Buganda and Western region, to manage their forests properly. In central forest reserves, conditions for THF harvesting stipulated protection of the forest from damage. The conditions included, inter alia: For failure to comply with the conditions, the holder was to pay a penalty, and at times could have the licence suspended. Almost similar conditions applied for free issues and failure to comply meant the permit would be cancelled. In collecting firewood, especially in Tropical High Forests, communities had to look for and take only dry wood from fallen trees or branches falling from standing dry trees. Collection of herbal medicine was always free. These measures ensured resource conservation and sustainable produce supply.

Resource management Research from the early 1950s revealed that productivity of Tropical High Forests per unit area was very low (averaging 2.45m3/ha) yet the population was growing steadily. In order to bridge the anticipated short supply of various wood products, the Forest Department increased the plantation establishment programme (initiated in 1946) using high altitudes species like Pinus patula and Cupressus lusitanica, followed in the mid 1960s by lowland species, mainly Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis.


A brick kiln in a Ugandan wetland. The fuel comes from the nearby forest and the clay from the wetland a profitable and hopefully sustainable combination. (Photo: BGF)

Cultivation of food crops is continuously pushing the forest further and further back. (Photo: BGF)

inadequate timber plantations area and clearing of private forests for agricultural farming has resulted in rising demand and short supply of wood. A timber shortage for various purposes may be experienced for some time to come because: Existing timber plantations are relatively young and not large enough to yield adequate volumes to satisfy the needs of the growing population. Population estimate for 2011 was 33 million people vis-à-vis the 2002 census figure of 24.4 million. Depending on tree species, Tropical High Forests require a long time to produce mature trees for harvesting. Trees require at least 30 – 40 years to mature, while other species like Entandrophragma and Milicia take up to 80 years and beyond. Even now, the market is flooded with illegally sawn timber from young trees. Young trees and poles are cut in forest reserves and private forests for firewood and charcoal for domestic use and small scale industries.

The future of forestry

Pole and fuel plantations were planted at all district headquarters to meet the rising demand for fuel wood and building poles. The humid climate favoured Eucalyptus saligna (and E.grandis) while E. camaldulensis, E. tereticornis and Cassia siamea can withstand harsh conditions in dry locations. This practice of sitespecies matching continues up to today. At independence, all forest reserves covered a total area of 1,291,961 hectares, which was considered inadequate for the growing population. The 1959 census showed 6.5 million people, compared to 5.0 million in the 1948 census. The government acquired and gazetted more land and total forest reserves area in 1968 was 1,597,346 hectares. Some forest reserves were converted into national parks in 1992/93. Civil wars and insecurity during Idi Amin’s regime (1971-79) and the guerrilla uprising (1981-85) had an adverse effect on forest management. Illegal activities resulted in serious degradation and deforestation, combining removal of high value and other marketable species with serious encroachment into Tropical High Forests.


The overall effect was decimation of forest estate and loss of growing stock value. A large percentage of existing Permanent Forest Estate (PFE) (1,467,192 hectares) is non productive. Little attention was given to timber plantations, to silvicultural tending, replanting cutover areas nor afforestation. The Forest Department, which subsequently became the National Forestry Authority (NFA), attempted to shift timber harvesting from Tropical High Forests to plantations but there has not been enough area for harvesting. However, it is worth noting that 70 per cent of total forest cover is privately owned and the remaining 30 per cent is shared between NFA and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). A substantial area of private forest land has been cleared for food production to feed the growing population. However, people later realised that the land loses fertility after a short time and crop production declines steadily.

Predicted timber shortage The aggregate effect of over-harvesting Tropical High Forests and the consequential degradation,

Forests and trees are important in climate mitigation and agricultural production, while forest products are a source of livelihood in both the formal and informal trade. For the forest sector to play its full role in national development, the following steps should be taken: • Involve all stakeholders in a deliberate government programme to foster understanding of the importance and value of forests and trees in environmental protection and for supply of wood products. The forest estate is an asset and a heritage for all, today and tomorrow. • Vigorous implementation of the current forestry policy (2001) encouraging the private sector to establish timber plantations. • As the lead agency, NFA should establish large timber plantations that should serve as models in forestry management practices. • The forest estate should be safeguarded from encroachment and other illegal activities that lead to degradation and deforestation. Political will is absolutely necessary. • Put in place measures whereby forestry experts provide technical advice to private forest owners constantly. In all, let us remember what Mahatma Gandhi, the Indian statesman and former Prime Minister is quoted as saying - “Nature has all that man needs for survival, but not for his greed.” The writer is a retired Deputy Commissioner for Forestry.

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Bush fires are used to clear private forests for cultivation of food crops.(Photo: Gerald Eilu)

Private forests in Uganda today Is there any hope for their conservation and survival? By GERALD EILU


ropical natural forests, woodlands and montane forests in Uganda are found in and outside Protected Areas (PAs). Those inside PAs receive some protection from agencies such as the Forestry and Wildlife Authorities but those outside the PAs are neglected. A number of districts in western Uganda - for example, Kyenjojo, Kabarole, Kibale and Kamwenge - have tracts of privately owned forests. In fact, up to 70 per cent of Uganda’s “natural forests” are found on private land and are managed by individuals, and only 30 per cent are on government land. For example, the Banyatereza Sisters in Rwibaale, Kyenjojo District, own about 220 hectares while a group of farmers belonging to the Kyenjojo District Farmers Association jointly own 80 hectares of natural forest. These forests are important for biodiversity, containing populations of black and white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and several species of birds such as the great blue turaco, among others. Conservationists and district leaders are now concerned about the high rates of deforestation on private forests. The Commonwealth Forestry Association (CFA) estimated deforestation rates to

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be 2.2 per cent between 2000 and 2005, while the State of Uganda’s Biodiversity Report for 2004 gave a deforestation rate of about 12 per cent between 1970 and 2000. Considering the rapid loss of forests in Uganda, what options are available for saving private natural forests? In this article, we will explore the options, based on experiences from the Albertine Rift Region in western Uganda. While revenue generation remains a key concern, attitudes are changing and efforts are now needed to raise awareness among individual landowners of the importance of managing private natural forests. Most private forest owners do not have land titles and belong to no associations. However, owners of private forests are willing to form associations if there are benefits that they can realise. Such associations would help members maximise the value of their forest resources, and help them to identify incentives, such as value addition, better markets for forest produce and carbon credits for restoration efforts. Customary land tenure is dominant, with few freehold and leasehold systems in place. The customary system is open to abuse through

encroachment and extraction of resources. The major causes of loss of private forests are discussed below, but are fuelled by the uncontrolled rise in human population.

Clearance and fragmentation for agriculture There is widespread destruction of private forests for agriculture, for the establishment of tea, as well as eucalyptus or pine plantations. Private forest owners establish eucalyptus or pine plantations for commercial gain. Clearing of forests for food crops is fuelled by the demand for relatively rich, virgin forest soils. However, once the forest is cleared and the soil is exposed to cultivation, it deteriorates very fast. As a result, crop yields are high during the first few years but drop quickly during subsequent years. The affected people then open up more land. Bush fires often accompany such land clearance and cause excessive damage to the soil biota and other fauna. Poor methods of farming aggravate the problem, leading to serious soil degradation and exhaustion. Whereas the establishment of pine and


Cardamom growing under the cover of forest. (Photo: Gerald Eilu)

Overgrazing is one of the threats to the survival of private forests. (Photo: Gerald Eilu) Young cardamom fruits in the forest. (Photo: Gerald Eilu)

eucalyptus plantations helps to meet the demand for timber, clearing private forests for this purpose is not desirable. Benefits such as ecosystem services and medicinal values are lost when natural forests are cleared. Approximately a third of the world’s population relies on traditional medicines, many of which come from tropical forests. The trade in medicinal plants often provides significant income for large numbers of people, and can be especially important for rural households. Thus the loss of these forests may pose a very real threat to the health, and sometimes, the livelihoods, of the poor.

Over-harvesting target species The owners of private forests are insensitive to the potential value of natural forests and woodlands and have allowed other people to harvest trees indiscriminately for firewood, poles and charcoal. There are reports of illegal hunting for bush meat, but the magnitude and impact are not clearly known. Sale of charcoal and firewood is aggravated by the frequent power cuts. With a market for charcoal in urban centres, charcoal burning is considered one of the most profitable ventures. However, this is not sustainable. Harvesting of firewood and burning of charcoal are very destructive to private forests and threaten the survival of target species. Moreover, cutting wood for charcoal (and encroachment) opens up forests to the spread of invasive species.

Pit sawing Standing trees of timber species are sold or sometimes harvested illegally by sawyers who do not have harvesting licences from the District / Forest Inspection Division. However, the timber harvested is probably subsequently legitimised informally.


The local governments seem to place a lot of emphasis on raising revenue from licensing the harvesting of trees for timber. This is exacerbated by the fact that local sources of district revenue have become limited in recent times. This casts doubt on the ability of district authorities to control illegal pit sawing. Many farmers, however, simply burn the trees during clearing, resulting in wastage of the resource.

Alien invasive species Invasive species such as Senna spectabilis (synonym: Cassia spectabilis) and Lantana camara sometimes cover large parts of the forest. These are species that spread naturally to displace or out-compete the native species on sites where they never existed before. These species are becoming common in fallows around cultivated areas. Control measures are required urgently because these species regenerate very aggressively and out-compete the native species.

Grazing and pollution Other less important threats to private forest biodiversity include livestock grazing, soil and water pollution resulting from poor farming methods, as well as poor garbage disposal in urban areas. Some of these are priority areas for the districts to address, but there are often very limited funds at the districts to allocate to conservation.

Invasion by wild animals Other challenges related to management of PAs include crop raiding by elephants (Loxodonta africana), baboons (Papio anubis), monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis) and other animals. Crop raiding discourages owners of private forests

from retaining such forests. Such forests are therefore viewed as hide-outs of potential crop raiders.

Strategies to address threats to private forests or raise income: Growing cardamom Planting cardamom could potentially save private forests from the threat of conversion for agriculture and establishment of plantations of exotic tree species. This would contribute a great deal to halting the clearing of private forests, as it would be more profitable to retain the forests for growing cardamom rather than clearing them to grow eucalyptus or pine. Growing cardamom, probably Elettaria cardomomum from Indonesia, offers a good option for saving private forests. The cardamom fruits are used to make spices, to flavour chewing gum and also in perfumes. There have been some efforts, for example by Kabarole and Kyenjojo District Farmers Associations, to promote its growing. This is one of the “forest friendly” enterprises. The species thrives under the shade of natural forest with a canopy cover of 40 – 60 per cent. To grow the crop, one must retain forested land. Growing cardamom is probably more profitable compared to the other alternatives. With a spacing of 2 x 2m, giving 2,500 plants/ha, and with each kilogram selling for US$ 1, this would generate considerable revenue. There are potential markets for the species, but these need to be backed by formal agreements. Farmers organised in associations would benefit from this venture. The multiplier effect of this intervention may save the private forests. Cardamom can be grown alongside beekeeping in the same forest to generate more income. The crop is harvested continuously over time. Private forest owners in Uganda are willing to

Miti October - December 2012

A trench dug to control crop raiding by animals near the Kibale National Park. (Photo: Gerald Eilu)

Mushroom growing using simple, locally available materials. (Photo: Gerald Eilu)

Silkworms bred for producing silk fabric. (Photo: Gerald Eilu)

grow cardamom provided they are assured that the marketing problems encountered with vanilla and Moringa oleifera are not repeated. In these earlier cases, there was much publicity but farmers ended up with unsold harvests. Other high value crops that could increase rural incomes, improve livelihoods and reduce pressure on private forests include mushrooms, silkworms, vanilla, passion fruits, artemisia (for malaria treatment) and garlic. These crops generally do not require as much land as maize, cassava or other traditional agricultural crops. Garlic is grown, for example, as a high value crop on the slopes of the Rwenzori Mountains. There is a market in Kampala, but the quantities produced are not yet large enough for large-scale commercial exploitation.

Sensitisation and education It is necessary to sensitise the local communities on biodiversity conservation and the need to protect private natural forests. Widespread poverty and lack of alternatives make people fail to practise conservation.

Eco-tourism Tourism could provide one of the major income generating activities for private forests. At the moment it is promoted by agencies such as the National Forest Authority (NFA), the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) alongside community-based organisations (CBOs). Eco-tourism targeting private forests should complement, rather than compete with, the efforts of UWA to promote tourism in the National Parks. Ecotourism could: Improve livelihoods of frontline communities

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and reduce reliance on extractive use of forest resources; Provide employment for local people who could otherwise be involved in illegal activities; Provide markets for local crafts and food sold to tourists; and Contribute to improved relations with managers of PAs, which would encourage community participation in managing the illegal activities.

Control of crop raiding The fear of marauding animals, as noted earlier, contributes indirectly to the destruction of private forests. Dealing with crop-raiding animals around PAs could therefore lead to the protection of private forests. One of the strategies is the use of trenches. An example of this is a 2km-long trench dug in Busiriba Parish (Kamwenge) with funding from UWA. The cost of digging the trench was approximately US$ 1,500 per kilometre. Maintenance of trenches has been a problem because the people expect to be paid to do this. This attitude needs to change. The use of thorny hedges of the Mauritius thorn (Caesalpinia decapetala) is another strategy. These have been planted, for example, near Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, but there is fear that the plant might spread into the forest and become invasive. The hedge appears to be fairly effective against baboons, but not against elephants, hence it is important to find better approaches continuously. Other methods might include guarding and scaring away the animals, sometimes by firing gunshots but often, staff numbers needed for this are limited. Moreover, the effect of gunshots on the behaviour of wild animals such as elephants may be undesirable in the long run.

Carbon trade, PES and REDD+ Options of carbon credits need to be fully explored with respect to the rehabilitation or restoration of private forests. There are efforts to enhance biodiversity by replanting degraded private forests with indigenous tree species for carbon dioxide sequestration to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Eradication of invasive species There should be efforts to eradicate invasive species such as S. spectabilis and Lantana camara. Some of the methods used include cutting, ring barking, and uprooting. Eradication of these species would promote growth of indigenous species.

Conclusion It may not be more profitable to convert private natural forests into agricultural land or eucalyptus plantations. However, currently there are no incentives for registration of private forests and there is no secure tenure over private forests. On a positive note, some associations of private forest owners have been initiated within the now concluded UNDP-GEF Conservation of Biodiversity in the Albertine Rift Forests of Uganda Project (CBARFP), implemented by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). These should be enhanced to ensure their survival. The initiatives described above can be strengthened by others such as Forest Management Plans (FMPs), tree nurseries for income generation, energy-saving stoves and others, and need to be promoted as a comprehensive package. The writer is Associate Professor at the Department of Forestry, Biodiversity and Tourism, Makerere University, Kampala Email:


Going down memory lane My 45 years in the forestry and timber sectors in Kenya, 1967 to 2012 By CHARLES BENGOUGH (CHUCK)


first came to Kenya in 1966. After studying forestry in Canada and at Oxford in the UK, I worked for two years as a Forestry Officer in the British Solomon Island Protectorate, in the Western Pacific. On completing my contract, I decided to give myself a treat and to return to Canada the long way home, looking at forestry projects, in Australia, Africa, and Europe, and then finally back to Canada to settle and to try to make a career in Canadian forestry. After a long hard winter in British Columbia, I yearned for warmer climes and having heard that the Canadian Government was recruiting forestry officers for loan to Kenya, I jumped at the opportunity and joined the staff of the Kenya Forest Department (KFD) in 1967. This was shortly after independence in Kenya and many expatriate foresters decided to leave the country. I was assigned the post of Forest Utilisation Officer and was the link between the industry and the Department. Initially, I intended to stay for two years; this was extended to a further three years and proved to be some of the happiest five years of my life. Following my term as a government servant, like so many non-Kenyans, I had fallen in love with Kenya and decided to stay. I established a wood-processing company manufacturing timber-frame houses and later added furniture, door and window manufacture to the company’s production. Therefore, 45 years later, and about to retire, I am going to bore [or hopefully entertain you] with my journey through Kenyan forestry. Looking back, I am reminded of one of the first documents that I read at my forestry department office, in Nairobi in 1967, entitled: “Exotic Forest Trees in the Kenya Highlands” by H.H.C. Pudden, O.B.E., MA. A silviculturist, Mr Pudden produced the document for the Seventh British Commonwealth Forestry Conference in Australia in 1957. The paper pointed out how in the early 1900s, there was a reluctance to plant exotic pines, cypress and eucalypts. But eventually, it was realised that the indigenous forest resource was far from adequate to meet Kenya’s development needs and that whilst no indigenous plantation had yielded anything substantial, the exotic plantations were showing great promise. Mr Pudden continues to state that in 1945 a


This photograph appeared in a newspaper in 1972 with the following caption: “Mr. C.C. Bengough (seen above with the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Onesmus Mburu), who has been working in Kenya for the last five years, has just completed his contract with the Forest Department. During that period Mr. Bengough filled the post of Forest Utilisation Officer with the department, a task which involved studies of Kenya’s timbers, sawmills and timber extraction activities. He was responsible for the publication of numerous leaflets on the qualities of Kenya timbers, timber uses, sawmilling in Kenya, timber treatment and seasoning. Mr. Bengough, who holds the degree of B.S.F. and Dip. For. (Oxon), came to Kenya under the Canadian International Development Agency Scheme as a Forest Adviser.”

Development Plan was accepted to plant 6,000 acres of exotic trees for 35 years. And that is how the current resource, which we are all so dependent on, came into being. This resource of industrial round-wood is now the raw material for Kenya’s sawn-wood, wood-based panel and fuel and pole industry. More importantly, the plantations have allowed Kenya to “ringfence” and conserve the precious indigenous forests; which would not survive if left to general exploitation. The importance of Mr Pudden’s document has remained with me these 45 years. At the turn of the 20th century, Kenya experienced a lengthy period of experimental

planting of a host of potential species from all over the world. The first exotic plantations were established in about 1910, and when I arrived in 1967, the government commercial exotic plantation of pine, cypress and eucalyptus cover was about 80,000 hectares. Today, it covers 90,000 hectares. Considering the increase in Kenya’s population from about seven million in 1967 to the current 40 million, it is obvious that plantation development has not kept pace with Kenya’s requirements. Considering Kenya’s extraordinary growth rates for pine, cypress and eucalyptus, we should have at least 200,000 hectares of exotic

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A smooth transition from colonial to Kenyan staff at the Kenya Forest Department 1966/67. From left: John Smart, Onesmus Mburu, John Logie (Chief Conservator), John Onyango and Tony Gardner.

industrial plantations; clearly a serious timber shortfall and problem is developing. When I joined the KFD in 1967, the headquarters was in a group of old timber buildings at a corner of what is now Uhuru Park, at the junction of Uhuru Highway and Kenyatta Avenue. The last of the colonial foresters - John Logie the Chief Conservator of Forests, Tony Gardner, Bill Dyson and Tom Wormald were winding-down and were being shadowed by the first truly impressive indigenous Kenyan foresters, namely John Onyango, Onesmus Mburu and John Wawieyi. Shortly after my arrival, the Kenyans took over the management of the Department. At that time, there were about 10 Canadian foresters from the Canadian International Development Aid (CIDA) placed in various forestry disciplines, from forest management, to forest inventory, forest products, marketing and utilisation. The intention was that the Canadians would bridge the gap between the loss of many British foresters who had left shortly after independence and the return of Kenyan foresters who had been sent to Canada, Australia, the UK and other European countries for post-graduate forestry degrees. There were also several American, British and Scandinavian expatriates filling various posts and of course a plethora of consultants coming and going. These were heady times with “commercial plantation forestry” as the buzz-word. During the late 1960s, there were a number of major forestry conferences in the region,

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including bi-annual exchanges of senior forestry staff between Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and these meetings alternated between Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam. And of course the Chief Conservator of Forests hosted an annual meeting followed by a cocktail party for all of the Forestry Officers and their wives

The writer, still smiling and some years older, in his workshop in Naivasha (EHG) in 2010. (Photo: BGF)

at his home, Arboretum House. After Kenya’s independence in 1964 and during the transition period, there was a huge input from the World Bank (WB) in the form of major grants and loans for plantation establishment, infrastructure and capacity building. John Spears, who had been a forester in Kenya before independence and who later became Chief Forestry Adviser to the WB in Washington, was instrumental in the development of Kenya’s plantation forests and forest industries. It should also be noted that over the last three decades, many other donors, including Finland, Japan and Sweden, have provided significant inputs into Kenyan forestry. Since my departure from the KFD, there have been many changes including the development of a Forestry degree at Moi University, the conversion of the KFD to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), a ban on the shamba system for establishing plantations and a 12-year logging ban (the last two have been lifted recently). Not all of these changes have been beneficial. However, one benefit has been that the private sector has now invested in industrial plantation, a venture that the government and KFS would do well to encourage. Following my five years in the KFD, I “crossed the fence” to the private sector, buying and processing the plantation timber that had been planted during my forestry days. Fortunately, as council member of the Timber Industry Employers Association (TIEA), I have been able to keep in touch and fairly up to date on Kenya’s forestry scene and have enjoyed watching the sector as it develops and expands. But what of the future and the way forward for forestry in Kenya? Clearly, we must: • Increase and protect the indigenous forest cover; • Develop a much bigger industrial plantation base; • Encourage investment in private sector forestry; and • Make a bigger investment in forestry research, training and social forestry. After 45 years, I am now happy to “hang-up my forestry and woodworking tools” and wish the next generation of Kenyan foresters a happy and productive career. Most important of all, it is now up to you, Kenya’s new generation of foresters, to increase Kenya’s forest cover to the UN’s recommended 10 per cent. The writer was a Forest Utilisation Officer 1967-1972, with the Kenya Forest Department


A boundary plantation of Commiphora baluensis (itula, hagar) in Kitui district. This is a private initiative, and a splendid example of landscape beautification in drylands that should be imitated. It is relatively easy to do, using big cuttings. In a number of European countries, planting and maintenance of hedges and boundary plantations is subsidised. (Photo: BGF)

 There is a global trend for companies to invest in green business.  The global concern on dwindling natural biodiversity assets has attracted the attention of the private sector.  The private sector, as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly seeking ways for communities to diversify their sources of income, including through sustainable natural resources supply, which normally goes with tree planting.

Small-scale operators

Exploring new frontiers With dwindling supplies of wood from public forests, hope lies with private tree-growers By MWANIKI NGIBUINI AND JOSHUA CHEBOIWO


lobally, forest resources are increasingly under pressure from a growing demand for wood products in both developed and developing countries. The private sector and small-scale forest operators are being looked at as the next frontier in the provision of forest products to supplement dwindling supplies from public forests. The growing concern to conserve forests and woodlands has converted large tracts of forest lands from production into protection reserves, hence the need to seek alternative sources of wood products. Recent studies show that global demand for wood products will exceed supply by 2015 and a global industrial wood deficit is expected to reach 115 million m3 per annum by 2020. It is projected that global demand will increase by 44 per cent from 2007 to 2030, largely driven by population growth and bio-energy demands projection. Due to the fact that global demand will exceed supply, it is expected that the real prices of wood products will increase dramatically (see Fig 1). At the East African level, similar scenarios are at play as most countries are forestry resources deficit. Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi are all deficient in forestry products. Even Tanzania, currently rated as forestry resource rich with potential surplus export capacity, is predicted to fall into deficit in the next 30 years due to population growth and resource management issues.

Participation of the private sector Potential players in the forestry sector, including a wide range of land owners, corporate bodies, firms and investment ventures, need some incentives to change their current land uses to favour forest related activities. Incentives are necessary because of the long-term nature of the investment before any returns are realised. Again, forest related land uses are ranked lower than other land uses in terms of financial and social needs. As such, some inducement in the form of finances, structural support systems and skills are required to fill the gaps. To design appropriate incentives, it is rational to understand why the private sector invests in commercial forestry in the first place. The private sector is not a homogeneous group of investors but is made up of a wide range of players whose decision making process is related to maximisation of their set objectives, mostly to do with family welfare or profits. Thus, the most relevant incentives are mostly financial and fiscal policy instruments such as tax exemption or subsidies. Despite the need for incentives, there are factors that have attracted the private sector to invest in forestry business. These include:  Profitability of forestry business with IRR1 ranging between 16 – 24 per cent.  High demand for wood products.  Potential for additional revenues from the sale of carbon offsets in global markets. 1


Internal Rate of Return

There is a wide range of reasons that motivates small-scale farmers to plant trees. These include:  To diversify the asset base and spread investment risks.  To meet household needs and sell the surplus.  To insulate households from the impacts of climate change through environment conditioning.  To mark property boundaries to protect their land from encroachment.  To minimise soil erosion and increase soil fertility.

Public sector’s declining capacity The public forestry sector is facing a myriad of problems that have hindered its capacity to increase the supply of forest products from its vast estates. Some of the reasons are:  The government places a low priority on the sector and thus allocates insufficient funds and facilities to meet personnel and operation needs.  Incoherent policies and resource governance.  Inefficient and incoherent forest administration.  Revenue leakages.  The sector is facing competition for land from other sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, wildlife and urbanisation.

Incentives for private forest operators There are three categories of incentives that are likely to attract the private sector to invest in forestry, namely policies and regulations, financial mechanisms and technological resources. Policies  To craft and operationalise policy and legislative frameworks that create an environment conducive to conducting profitable business in the sector.  To develop policy and legislative structures for faster access to land by the private sector.  Granting of forest management concessions.  Dealing with land tenure systems for both large and small-scale planters.  Develop non-wood income generating activities for small-scale tree planters, including bee keeping, eco-tourism and carbon offsets.  Improved access to research information in forestry.

Miti October - December 2012

Fig 1: Global trends for supply and demand of forest products

Technological Support  Availability of high quality seed and seedlings.  Current sources of seed are inadequate and of low quality. This hampers expansion of tree growing by small-scale planters. Mechanisms should be put in place to import high quality seeds.  Development of seed stands and capacity building on collection and grading of seeds.

Table 1: Some incentives and relevancy to the private forestry sector Broad types

Specific instruments

Taxation instruments

Tax credits on forest operations Tax breaks in property values, leases, capital gain tax, carbon sequestrations and incomes


Afforestation grants Low-interest credits Periodical stream payments for long rotations tree crops PES (Carbon credits and direct payments) Cost-sharing Certification costs

Structural instruments

Contract farming policies Infrastructure development to reduce costs Facilitate marketing and trade in forest products and services Favourable credit and payment facilities Certification support systems Concessioning and leasing instruments


Setting aside land for forests use Restricted land use on rivers Land use guidelines Minimise control on harvesting and forest produce movement

Table 2: Some incentives for public and community Broad types

Specific instruments

Equity contribution

Share of bio-prospecting deals Biodiversity offsets PES (Carbon credits and direct payments) Revenue sharing

Access to goods and services

Extraction of non-timber goods and services (grass, water, honey, herbs, etc)

Income generation

Ecotourism Employment opportunities Value addition on extracted products

Support services

Extension services and education


Restrictions, bans, allocations, access rights

Structural instruments

Joint ventures Land leases

Financing mechanisms  Partial financing of tree planting projects - large and small growers e.g. the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) in Uganda.  Tree planting grants for small-scale planting e.g. EU ACP (European Union - African, Caribbean and Pacific) grants, governments grants (Tanzania) and direct donor assistance to small growers.  Formation of tree out-grower schemes e.g. South African Pulp and Paper Industries (SAPPI) and Mondi, also in South Africa.

Miti October - December 2012

Tax incentives  Duty and VAT exemption on imported machinery and equipment.  Tax rebates as encouragement for conservation.  Exemption of infrastructure development projects from tax, e.g. roads, bridges and community projects.  Tax exemption/rebate on income from tree growing.  Complete tax exemption on operations like tree felling and forest produce transport.

Facilitation for formation of tree growers associations (TGAs) Creation of governance structures for TGAs.  Registration of TGAs with the relevant government authorities.  Making TGAs a platform for training, capacity building and marketing.  Provision of market information and linkages.  Promote quality products to meet market expectations.  Promote value addition.  Agree on price mechanisms with buyers. Linking small growers to the carbon market  Promoting tree management practices that are compatible with carbon trade.  Through the TGAs, create a system for assessing carbon stocks.  Assist TGAs to carry out necessary documentation for carbon sale.  Link TGAs to carbon markets.

Challenges for the private sector in the forestry world  Land policies do not adequately cater for the needs of large- and small-scale planters.  Sourcing of funds difficult due to global economic situation.  Research information not readily accessible.  Inadequate information on carbon trade.  Lack of policy and regulatory framework for carbon trade.  Few experts on CDM – (Clean Development Mechanism) and REDD projects.  Lack of technical staff with practical orientation.  Operations located in remote areas and difficult to attract high calibre staff.  Expensive carbon trade process.  Poor infrastructure.  Rising cost of operations - fuel, spares, equipment, wages.  Forest fires.  Pests and diseases. Mwaniki Ngibuini is the CEO, Green Resources, Tanzania Email: Joshua Cheboiwo is the Regional Director, Rift EcoRegion, Londiani, of the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Email:


Saving Kaptagat forest

We need to put conservation action in place now, to save Kenya’s ‘bread basket’

Our future. A child plants a wild olive – (Olea europaea ssp africana) seedling. (Photo: Paula Braitstein)



he Western Highlands of Kenya are home to millions of people, most of them rural farmers. This area, within the counties of Uasin Gishu, Keiyo, and Trans Nzoia, also produces a large portion of the country’s food, and has been referred to as the “bread basket of Kenya”. Before the spread of agriculture, infrastructure and other land uses, large areas of the Western Highlands were covered in forests. Today, only a few patches of forest remain. In recent years, rains have become unpredictable and this has caused much insecurity among the agricultural sector. The Kaptagat Forest (which is officially called the Pombo-Sabor Forest) is located north-east of Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu County, in Eldoret East District. The forest is a typical evergreen highland forest of African pencil cedar (Juniperus procera), wild olive (Olea europaea ssp. africana), podos (Podocarpus spp.) and several different kinds of fig trees (Ficus spp.). The fig trees in the Kaptagat Forest are among the most spectacular and massive in the highlands of Western Kenya. It is estimated that the indigenous forest cover is at least 500 hectares (5 square kilometres). It is not clear how much forest cover there is any more, but it is certainly becoming smaller every day. A survey of the current forest cover is needed urgently, to establish the extent of indigenous forest and the main areas undergoing disturbance. The Pombo-Sabor forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife, including troops of both blackand-white colobus monkeys and the western highland dark form of the blue monkey. There are also genets, different kinds of mongoose and African civets. Birdlife is especially rich and includes numbers of Hartlaub’s turacos, Ross’s turacos and the blackand-white casqued hornbill. There is potential for developing bird-related tourism in the area given the easy hiking conditions and spectacular views through the forest and its associated valleys.


Two main rivers flow from the forest catchment - the Kipsinende and the Naiberi. The two rivers flow through Kipsinende and Kaptagat locations. They lead to the Two River dam, where the water supply is stored for Eldoret town, Kenya’s fastest growing town with a population from the last census (2009) of 350,000 but assumed to be higher. For the first time ever, in early to mid 2011, Eldoret faced water shortages and rationing. The link between forests and water is undisputed, and it is well known that conserving forests brings rains and conserves natural waterways. Yet forests all over Kenya, including Pombo-Sabor, are being eliminated – with resultant droughts, floods, erosion and desertification. Pombo-Sabor forest has long been depleted of most of the commercially valuable wood like rosewood and cedar. All large hardwoods and cedars have been logged. Whatever is left is being destroyed for charcoal and firewood. It takes a day to destroy what took hundreds of years to grow! This includes destruction of young African pencil cedars, especially in areas near the forest edge where they should be allowed to regenerate. A “gorogoro” (2 kg) container of charcoal sells for Ksh 30 (US$ 0.45) and lasts a family of four a day. While higher income families usually use cooking gas or electricity, most lower income families (who represent the majority of the population) – and many hotels and restaurants – depend exclusively or primarily on charcoal and firewood. As a result, the forest is vanishing rapidly. Underlying all of this is the general economic deprivation of many residents, both surrounding the forest and in Eldoret. Most residents around the forest are subsistence farmers with little or no opportunity for income generation. Further, there is high youth unemployment. A forest conservation programme can only succeed and be sustained if the community benefits from it and if the solution is affordable for the masses.

There are many possibilities for economic development from the forest including sustainable production of firewood, bee-keeping/honey making, tourism, etc.) However, alternative sources of cooking fuel, on a large-scale basis, are needed desperately. The Kenya government has committed itself to achieving two extremely important international environmental initiatives – the Millenium Development Goal Number 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability) and the United Nations declaration that 2011 is the Year of Forests. Both initiatives strive to increase the proportion of land area under forests, reduce carbon dioxide (C02) emissions, reduce biodiversity loss and increase the proportion of the population with sustainable access to safe water. The primary objective of the Pombo-Sabor Forest Users Conservation Group, a CBO working towards conservation of the said forest, is to have the forest gazetted as a nature reserve to achieve the following goals: Goal 1: Protect the forest from invasion and unsustainable exploitation. Activities: • Construct physical barriers (e.g. fences) to the forest to prevent uncontrolled access by people and livestock. • Hire local youth and train them as Assistant Forest Patrols whose responsibility would be to patrol the forest and report any intrusions. • Partner with local forest rangers and ensure enforcement of the laws is duly effected. • Map the forest using GIS tools and create a baseline of information. • Survey the forest for both its physical and biological resources to establish a baseline for conservation. Goal 2: Rehabilitate and expand the existing indigenous forest.

Miti October - December 2012

The 2012 planting campaign. Every child received two seedlings - one for home and the other for the school. (Photo: Paula Braitstein)

The silvery-cheeked hornbill (Bycanistes brevis), a local forest resident, close to some favourite food - figs. (Photo: Paula Braitstein)

It’s not just about trees. (Photo: Paula Braitstein)

A black and white Colobus monkey, indigenous to the forest and threatened due to the destruction of the habitat. (Photo: Paula Braitstein)

Activities: • Extend indigenous forest cover (including bamboo) around the watershed. • Supplement existing forest with seedlings where necessary.

Miti October - December 2012

• Replace plantations of exotic trees with indigenous seedlings whenever possible and as directed by the forester. • Ensure only controlled access to the forest. • Ensure the forest is managed according to good forestry management principles. • Initiate and maintain an indigenous tree nursery. Goal 3: Provide opportunities for the local community to benefit from the forest in a sustainable way over the long-term. Activities: • Provide opportunities (including seed money through micro-financing) to local community members to initiate income-generating activities including: bee-keeping and honey production sustainable harvesting of firewood from the forest establishment of a commercial nursery, including indigenous and exotic trees, as well as passion fruit seedlings. • Facilitate local landowners to plant and maintain at least 10 per cent tree cover on their properties through distribution of donated seedlings and seedlings purchased at wholesale costs. • Encourage the formation of a community cooperative for providing a market where local landowners can sell their charcoal and firewood at a fair and common price. • In partnership with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), establish the Pombo-Sabor (Kaptagat) forest as a nature preserve and provide ecotourism services. KFS has developed a reasonable plan for turning things around. If implemented, the forest would be preserved for future generations. Unfortunately,

this is easier said than done. The Pombo-Sabor Forest Users Conservation Group faces the same challenges as other forest stakeholders around the country. These include illegal issuing of logging permits; illegal charcoal burning and making of firewood; cutting of young indigenous trees by women and children with pangas grazing by livestock in newly planted areas; hunting of remaining wildlife. In general, lack of enforcement means that too little happens, too late. There is an urgent need for better monitoring, reporting and law enforcement in and around the forest in relation to conservation of this precious water catchment area. The time for action to protect this and all remaining forests in Kenya is now. We call on the citizens of Kenya to rise up and protect this precious resource: once it is gone it will be lost for ever. Plantations of cypress and pine can provide firewood – but the eco-systems that form water catchments will take hundreds of years to replace, and that is if we start now. Those of us working to save the last bits of forest in Kenya must work together with the KFS and the Government of Kenya to preserve and rehabilitate the natural environment. In spite of these massive problems, there is the possibility - with hard work, perseverance and adequate investments - of preventing the problem from deteriorating further, and transforming the situation into something positive. For more information or to make a donation, please contact the Pombo-Sabor (Kaptagat) Forest Users Conservation Group at 0728 825 620 or by email to The writer is Associate Research Professor, Indiana University School of Medicine (USA) and Visiting Lecturer, Moi University School of Medicine (Kenya) Email: and


A natural woodland of yellow fever trees (Acacia xanthophloea) in Narok. Charcoal producers prey on these trees, paying pitifully small amounts to the local land owners. (Photo: BGF)

The right tree for the right zone Know the best indigenous species to plant in your area, for different uses


ndigenous species are usually undervalued, and with a few exemptions, not planted on a large scale. This is mostly because people lack information on the best species to plant and the commercial benefits. This is a pity because indigenous species produce a rich range of beautiful woods. To bridge this gap, Miti has compiled this guide, from information provided by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) Seed Centre with additional information from other literature1. The KEFRI guide is based on phenological observations and identifies 22 forest seed zones (forest ecological zones). These are described in terms of altitude, rainfall and temperature, and vegetation type. As availability of water is the most decisive factor for tree growth, the seed zones 1 1) Najma Dharani, Field guide to Acacias of East Africa, Struik Publishers, South Africa, 2006. 2) Beentje, H, Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya, 1994. 3) Maundu P and Bo Tengnäs B (eds). Useful trees and shrubs for Kenya, 2005.Technical handbook no 35.Nairobi, Kenya, World Agroforestry Centre.


have been ranged according to humidity. Altitude is often related to rainfall, and is also very important. Soil characteristics have not been considered in the defination of the seed zone and the soil requirements of the species have to be included in silvicultural considerations depending on each species. Specific soil requirements for species can be found in specialised litrature (see footnote1) or advice can be obtained from the nearest forest extention service. The list of indigenous names is not exhaustive. The tree species mentioned are but a selection of the list given by KEFRI, and the selection criteria were commercial planting possibilities (e.g. mangrove species are not included), growth rate in some, and commercial value. No species are given for the first two seed zones since nobody plants trees in such a high altitude. The table is split into three, with the more humid seed zones treated in this issue, and the drier zones in the next two issues.

Forester Waithaka next to a two-yearold falcon’s claw (Acacia polyacantha) at the Nairobi National Park’s GreenLine. Given good conditions, this species grows very fast. (Photo: BGF)

Miti October - December 2012

Seed zone


Mean annual rainfall (mm)

Mean annual temp (oC)

Mean max temp(oC)

Mean min temp (oC)

Absolute min temp (oC)

Altitude (m)

Vegetation type


Humid Cold to Very Cold

1100 - 2700

< 10

< 16




Moist forest (Afro-alpine Highlands)


Humid Very Cool

1100 - 2700

10 - 12

16 – 18


-4 - -2

2750 - 3050

Moist forest (Upper Highlands)


Humid Cool

1100 - 2700

12 - 14

18 – 20


-2 - 0

2450 – 2750

Moist forest (Upper Highlands)


Albizia gummifera (kisya, mukurue, seet, mukhonzuli). A large flat-topped tree, fairly fast-growing, multiple uses including medicinal. Aningeria adolfi-friedericii (muna, aningeria, cheptatet, mutunguru, seite). Very tall, valuable timber tree, slow-growing. Dombeya torrida (boloet, mukeu, kumukusa, monde, sibukuet). Important timber tree, multi-branched. Ekebergia capensis (ekebergia, teldet, mpoto wa ndovu mkuu, mukongu, mununga, kumusilisisi). Medium-sized to large tree, fairly fast-growing, timber and other uses. Faurea saligna (beechwood, kikaati, mutorothua, markwa, bongwet). Can become a large tree (20m) with medium growth rate, hard yellow-brown wood, resistant to termites. For furniture and construction timber, poles. Hagenia abyssinica (hagenia, mumondo, bondet, omukunakuna, mujororuet). Dark red wood for furniture but attacked by borers. Medicinal, ornamental. Juniperus procera (pencil cedar, mukuu, mutarakwa). Timber, termite resistant, fairly fast-growing.

Ocotea usambarensis (East African camphor wood, muzara, muthaiti, mukongo). A fast-growing timber tree of huge proportions. Olea capensis (East African olive, Elgon olive, loliondet, mucarage, omutukuyu, msaita, muruuguyet). Slow-growing but very valuable termite-resistant timber tree. Olea europaea (wild olive, muthata, mutamaiyu, emitiot, kumunyubuti, kang’o, emidit). Slow-growing but very valuable, heavy wood. Its Mediterranean subspecies is the commercial olive tree (oil, olives). Podocarpus falcatus (podo, benet, muthengera, saptet, pirripirriet). This is the one with smaller leaves, and can stand drier areas than P. latifolius. Produces general utility yellow softwood. Podocarpus latifolius (podo, muthengera, mutarai, saptet, sitatet). This podo has larger leaves, likes wetter areas, produces the same kind of timber. Prunus africana (red stinkwood, mueri, muiru, kiburabura, mwiritsa, tenduet, kumuturu). Large, fairly slow-growing, excellent timber tree also used for medicinal purposes (bark for prostate medicine, leaves).

Humid Fairly cool

1100 - 2700





Humid Cool temperate Species

14 – 16

20 - 22

8 - 10

Albizia gummifera (kisya, mukurue, seet, mukhonzuli). Large flat-topped tree, fairly fast-growing, multiple uses including medicinal. Aningeria adolfi-friedericii (muna, aningeria, cheptatet, mutunguru, seite). Very tall, valuable timber tree, slow-growing. Cassipourea malosana (pillar wood, muthaguta, muthaithi, muangaita, martit). A tall tree with very hard wood, for timber but attacked by borers. Dombeya torrida (boloet, mukeu, kumukusa, monde, sibukuet). Important timber tree, multi-branched. Ekebergia capensis (ekebergia, teldet, mpoto wa ndovu mkuu, mukongu, mununga, kumusilisisi). Medium-sized to large tree, fairly fast-growing, timber and other uses. Hagenia abyssinica (hagenia, mumondo, bondet, omukunakuna, mujororuet). Dark red wood for furniture but attacked by borers, medicinal, ornamental. Juniperus procera (pencil cedar, mukuu, mutarakwa). Timber, termite resistant, fairly fast-growing. Olea europaea (wild olive, muthata, mutamaiyu,emitiot, kumunyubuti, kang’o, emidit). Slow-growing but very valuable, heavy wood. Its Mediterranean subspecies is the commercial olive tree (oil, olives). 1100 - 2700

16 – 18

22 - 24

10 – 12

Acacia lahai (red thorn, mugaa, chepitet, alaktar, kumunyenya, ketetia, oldebesi). A flat-topped acacia up to 15m high. For construction timber. Albizia gummifera (kisya, mukurue, seet, mukhonzuli). Large flat-topped tree, fairly fast-growing, multiple uses including medicinal. Aningeria adolfi-friedericii (muna, aningeria, cheptatet, mutunguru, seite). Very tall, valuable timber tree, slow-growing. Cassipourea malosana (pillar wood, muthaguta, muthaithi, muangaita, martit). A tall tree with very hard wood, for timber but attacked by borers. Cordia africana (mukumari, muvutu, muringa, mukobokobo, muzigio, samut). Moderately fast-growing tree, multiple uses including timber, ornamental. Croton megalocarpus (musine, muthulu, mukinduri, masineitet, mukigara, ortuet). Large, spreading tree. Uses include timber, firewood and seeds contain good quality oil. Faurea saligna (beechwood, kikaati, mutorothua, markwa, bongwet). Can become a large tree (20m) with medium growth rate, hard yellow-brown wood resistant to termites. For furniture and construction timber, poles. Juniperus procera (pencil cedar, mukuu, mutarakwa). Timber, termite resistant, fairly fast-growing. Markhamia lutea (siala, muu, lusiola, muu, mobet, kumusoola). Fast-growing and well coppicing, wood is hard, tough and mostly termite resistant, good for poles, can grow on heavy clay. Ocotea usambarensis (East African camphor wood, muzara, muthaiti, mukongo). A fast- growing timber tree of huge proportions.

Miti October - December 2012

2150 - 2450

Moist forest (Lower Highlands)

Podocarpus falcatus (podo, benet, muthengera, saptet, pirripirriet). This is the one with smaller leaves, and can stand drier areas than P. latifolius. Produces general utility yellow softwood. Podocarpus latifolius (podo, muthengera, mutarai, saptet, sitatet). This podo has larger leaves, likes wetter areas, produces the same kind of timber. Polyscias fulva (parasol tree, auoun, mutati, auonet, mwanzu, nyakom-ondiek). Fast-growing, light, soft white wood good for matches, boxes. Polyscias kikuyuensis (mutati,mukurukuru, aoun, aul). Same kind of wood as P. fulva, partly growing at higher altitude, endemic to Central Kenya. Prunus africana (red stinkwood, mueri, muiru, kiburabura, mwiritsa, tenduet, kumuturu). Large, fairly slow-growing, excellent timber tree also used for medicinal purposes (bark for prostate medicine, leaves). Syzygium guinense (Guinea waterberry, mshiwi, kivuena, mukoe, lamaiyat, obusitole/omusitole, lomaiwo). Large strong forest tree with brown strong timber. Vitex keniensis (meru oak, muuru, muhuru). Tall, fairly fast-growing, excellent timber tree in a limited natural range on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya. Zanthoxylum gilletti (African satinwood, muchagatha, sagawoita, shikhuma, sogo maitha). Fairly fast-growing tree, with heavy yellow-white timber, sweetly scented. 3-4

1850 - 2150

Moist forest (Lower Highlands)

Olea capensis (East African olive, Elgon olive, loliondet, mucarage, omutukuyu, msaita, muruuguyet). Slow-growing but very valuable termite-resistant timber tree. Podocarpus latifolius (podo, muthengera, mutarai, saptet, sitatet). This podo has larger leaves, likes wetter areas, produces the same kind of timber as P. falcatus. Polyscias fulva (parasol tree, auoun, mutati, auonet, mwanzu, nyakom-ondiek). Fast-growing, light, soft white wood, good for matches, boxes. Prunus africana (red stinkwood, mueri, muiru, kiburabura, mwiritsa, tenduet, kumuturu). Large, fairly slow-growing, excellent timber tree also used for medicinal purposes (bark for prostate medicine, leaves). Syzygium guinense (Guinea waterberry, mshiwi, kivuena, mukoe, lamaiyat, obusitole/omusitole, lomaiwo). Large, strong forest tree with brown strong timber. Vitex keniensis (meru oak, muuru, muhuru) tall, fairly fast growing, excellent timber tree in a limited natural range on the eastern slopes of Mt Kenya. Warburgia ugandensis (East African greenheart, muthaiga, moissot, omenyakige, abaki, osokonoi, soget). Fairly fast-growing, coppicing, important medicinal plant, wood good for timber and building, not termite resistant. Zanthoxylum gilletti (African satinwood, muchagatha, sagawoita, shikhuma, sogo maitha). Fairly fast-growing tree, with heavy yellow-white timber, sweetly scented.


Seed zone 06

Climate Humid Warm temperate to fairly warm Species


Sub-humid Very cool to cool

Mean annual rainfall (mm) 1100 - 2700

Mean annual temp (oC)

Mean max temp(oC)

18 – 22

24 - 28

Mean min temp (oC) 12 – 16

Acacia lahai (red thorn, mugaa, chepitet, alaktar, kumunyenya, ketetia, oldebesi). A flat-topped acacia up to 15m high, timber used in construction. Acacia polyacantha (falcon’s claw acacia, mkengewa, kivovoa, ogongo, kumukokwe). A big (18m) fast-growing acacia with durable wood, easily recognisable through its flowers (white spikes) and black curved thorns. Acacia sieberiana (mgunga kuu, eyesura, leldet, achara, chiak). A big, spreading umbrella tree with useful timber and edible gum. Albizia gummifera (kisya, mukurue, seet, mukhonzuli). Large, flat-topped tree, fairly fast-growing, multiple uses including medicinal. Cassipourea malosana (pillar wood, muthaguta, muthaithi, muangaita, martit). A tall tree with very hard wood, for timber but attacked by borers. Celtis africana (camdeboo stinkwood, akasinga, murundu, chepkeleliet, mweyu, olmositet). Strong timber though prone to rotting. For building, furniture and tool handles. Cordia africana (mukumari, muvutu, muringa, mukobokobo, muzigio, samut). Moderately fast-growing tree, multiple uses including timber, ornamental. Croton megalocarpus (musine, muthulu, mukinduri, masineitet, mukigara, ortuet). Large, spreading tree. Uses include timber and firewood. Seeds contain good quality oil. Diospyros abyssinica (Abyssinian diospiros, lusui, mdaa-mwitu, muiruthi, cheptuiyet, ochol). A big slow-growing tree, coppices, producing hard and tough wood, almost termite resistant. Ekebergia capensis (ekebergia, teldet, mpoto wa ndovu mkuu, mukongu, mununga, kumusilisisi). Medium-sized to large tree, fairly fast-growing. Timber and other uses. 1000 - 1600

10 – 14

16 - 20


Absolute min temp (oC) 4-8

Altitude (m)

Vegetation type

1200 - 1850

Moist forest (Midlands)

Markhamia lutea (siala, muu, lusiola, muu, mobet, kumusoola). Fastgrowing and well coppicing. Wood is hard, tough and mostly termite resistant. Good for poles, can grow on heavy clay. Ekebergia capensis (ekebergia, teldet, mpoto wa ndovu mkuu, mukongu, mununga, kumusilisisi). Medium-sized to large tree, fairly fast-growing, timber and other uses. Ocotea usambarensis (East African camphor wood, muzara, muthaiti, mukongo). A fast-growing timber tree of huge proportions. Olea capensis (East African olive, Elgon olive, loliondet, mucarage, omutukuyu, msaita, muruuguyet). Slow-growing but very valuable termiteresistant timber tree. Podocarpus falcatus (podo, benet, muthengera, saptet, pirripirriet). This is the one with smaller leaves, and can stand drier areas than P. latifolius. Produces general utility yellow softwood. Polyscias kikuyuensis (mutati, mukurukuru, aoun, aul ). Same kind of wood as P. fulva, partly growing at higher altitude, endemic to Central Kenya. Syzygium guinense (Guinea waterberry, mshiwi, kivuena, mukoe, lamaiyat, obusitole/omusitole, lomaiwo). Large, strong, forest tree with brown strong timber. Trichilia emetica (Cape mahogany, munwa madzi, mutuluku, mururi, munyama, ochond athuth, korteswa). A fairly fast-growing tree with light timber. Good for furniture. Oil from seeds has several uses, seeds extremely poisonous.

-4 - 0

2450 -3050

Moist and dry forest (Upper highlands)

Species Acacia abyssinica (flat top acacia, mugaa, sirtuet, eyesurura, munyenya, ogongo, marambajet). A large, flat-topped acacia. Leaves and pods used as fodder. Wood as timber, fuel and poles. Dombeya torrida (boloet, mukeu, kumukusa, monde, sibukuet). Important timber tree, multi-branched. Hagenia abyssinica (hagenia, mumondo, bondet, omukunakuna, mujororuet). Dark red wood for furniture but attacked by borers, medicinal, ornamental. Juniperus procera (pencil cedar, mukuu, mutarakwa). Timber, termite resistant, fairly fast-growing. Olea capensis (East African olive, Elgon olive, loliondet, mucarage, omutukuyu, msaita, muruuguyet). Slow-growing but very valuable termite-resistant timber tree.

Olea europaea (wild olive, muthata, mutamaiyu, emitiot, kumunyubuti, kang’o, emidit). Slow-growing but very valuable, heavy wood. Its Mediterranean subspecies is the commercial olive tree (oil, olives). Podocarpus latifolius (podo, muthengera, mutarai, saptet, sitatet). This podo has larger leaves, likes wetter areas. Produces the same kind of timber as P. falcatus. Polyscias kikuyuensis (mutati,mukurukuru, aoun, aul ) same kind of wood as P. fulva, partly growing at higher altitude, endemic to Central Kenya. Prunus africana (red stinkwood, mueri, muiru, kiburabura, mwiritsa, tenduet, kumuturu). Large, fairly slow-growing, excellent timber tree also used for medicinal purposes (bark for prostate medicine, leaves).

A very fast-growing tree, mutati or mukurukuru (Polyscias kikuyuensis) here seen as a seedling less than a year old. (Credit Jan Vandenabeele)

A young muthiga or African greenheart (Warburgia ugandensis) planted for ornamental purposes. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)


Miti October - December 2012

Mukinduri (Croton megalocarpus), a graceful presence in the moist and dry forests of the “upper midlands” of Nairobi and environs, Central Kenya and Rift Valley. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

Seed zone 08

Climate Sub-humid Fairly cool to cool temperate Species

Mean annual rainfall (mm) 1000 - 1600

Mean annual temp (oC) 14 - 18

Mean max temp(oC) 20 - 24

A young muhuhu (Brachylaena huillensis), loved by wood carvers, and mostly found in the moist and dry forest of the “upper midlands”. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

Mean min temp (oC) 8 - 12

Acacia abyssinica (flat top acacia, mugaa, sirtuet, eyesurura, munyenya, ogongo, marambajet). A large, flat-topped acacia. Leaves and pods used as fodder. Wood as timber, fuel and poles. Acacia gerrardii (muthi, chepitet, akurukuru, chesams). A flat-topped acacia, fastgrowing with high groundwater. For timber, fuel, poles. Acacia lahai (red thorn, mugaa, chepitet, alaktar, kumunyenya, ketetia, oldebesi). A flat-topped acacia up to 15m high. Timber used in construction. Albizia gummifera (kisya, mukurue, seet, mukhonzuli). Large, flat-topped tree, fairly fast-growing, multiple uses including medicinal. Aningeria adolfi-friedericii (muna, aningeria, cheptatet, mutunguru, seite). Very tall, valuable timber tree, slow-growing. Calodendrum capense (Cape chestnut, yangu, muraracii, kipkaria, ocharasliit). Timber, construction, but also ornamental. Slow-growing. Cassipourea malosana (pillar wood, muthaguta, muthaithi, muangaita, martit). A tall tree with very hard wood. For timber but attacked by borers. Celtis africana (camdeboo stinkwood, akasinga, murundu, chepkeleliet, mweyu, olmositet). Strong timber though prone to rotting. For building, furniture and tool handles. Cordia africana (mukumari, muvutu, muringa, mukobokobo, muzigio, samut). Moderately fast-growing tree, multiple uses including timber, ornamental. Diospyros abyssinica (Abyssinian diospiros, lusui, mdaa-mwitu, muiruthi, cheptuiyet, ochol). A big, slow-growing tree. Coppices, producing hard and tough wood, almost termite-resistant. Dombeya torrida (boloet, mukeu, kumukusa, monde, sibukuet). Important timber tree, multi-branched. Erythrina abyssinica (red-hot poker tree, mbamba ngoma, muvuti, muhuti, kumurembe, karkar). Slow-growing, for timber, tools, ornamental, medicine.

Miti October - December 2012

Absolute min temp (oC) 0-4

Altitude (m) 1850 - 2450

Vegetation type Moist and dry forest (Lower Highlands)

Faurea saligna (beechwood, kikaati, mutorothua, markwa, bongwet). Can become a large tree (20m) with medium growth rate, hard yellow-brown wood, resistant to termites. For furniture and construction timber, poles. Hagenia abyssinica (hagenia, mumondo, bondet, omukunakuna, mujororuet). Dark red wood for furniture but attacked by borers, medicinal, ornamental. Juniperus procera (pencil cedar, mukuu, mutarakwa). Timber, termite-resistant, fairly fast-growing. Olea capensis (East African olive, Elgon olive, loliondet, mucarage, omutukuyu, msaita, muruuguyet). Slow-growing but very valuable termite-resistant timber tree. Olea europaea (wild olive, muthata, mutamaiyu,emitiot, kumunyubuti, kang’o, emidit). Slow-growing but very valuable, heavy wood. Its Mediterranean subspecies is the commercial olive tree (oil, olives). Podocarpus falcatus (podo, benet, muthengera, saptet, pirripirriet). This is the one with smaller leaves, and can stand drier areas than P. latifolius. Produces general utility yellow softwood. Polyscias fulva (parasol tree, auoun, mutati, auonet, mwanzu, nyakom-ondiek). Fast-growing, light, soft white wood. Good for matches, boxes. Polyscias kikuyuensis (mutati, mukurukuru, aoun, aul). Same kind of wood as P. fulva. Partly growing at higher altitude. Endemic to Central Kenya. Prunus africana (red stinkwood, mueri, muiru, kiburabura, mwiritsa, tenduet, kumuturu). Large, fairly slow-growing, excellent timber tree, also used for medicinal purposes (bark for prostate medicine, leaves). Syzygium guinense (Guinea waterberry, mshiwi, kivuena, mukoe, lamaiyat, obusitole/omusitole, lomaiwo). Large, strong forest tree with brown strong timber. Warburgia ugandensis (East African greenheart, muthaiga, moissot, omenyakige, abaki, osokonoi, soget). Fairly fast-growing, coppicing, important medicinal plant, wood good for timber and building, not termite-resistant.

To be continued in Miti issue 17


Charcoal and still more charcoal. It will not go away; on the contrary its use is increasing. The future lies with modern, clean and efficient technologies for mass production, like retort systems. (Photo: KFS)

Ripe for industrial charcoal production The Kenyan market is ready; we just need the right technology


By JOHN NGATIA MATHENGE This is the third and final part of the discussion on sustainable charcoal production after the gazetting of the Charcoal Rules. In Miti issue 14, we discussed the concepts and methods of traditional charcoal production. In the second part in Miti 15, we looked at medium-scale charcoal production technologies that could work well with groups. This final part explores the potential contribution of technology to industrial production of charcoal.


t has been reported that the most critical obstacles to development of the charcoal industry, particularly in developing countries, are ill-conceived policy and legal frameworks. More importantly, the lack of knowledge of existing industrial level charcoal producing technologies is a major hindrance. Kenya has addressed the regulatory framework for the industry sufficiently. However, there is need for a charcoal policy handbook to guide the industry. The current conditions, supported by a strong national will to develop the industry, create an appropriate environment for investors to stimulate progress in this subsector. Currently, government efforts, the growing domestic and regional markets,

increasing urban and peri-urban populations and the rising cost of fossil fuels, make the market ripe for investment in the charcoal industry. There is an unmet need to supply charcoal to the more than 75 per cent of the population that depends on the fuel as well as the fast-growing hotel industry that utilises a sizeable chunk of the marketed product.

Background to technology development The industrial demand for charcoal in the 20th century elicited new larger-scale technologies, mainly aimed at improving yield and quality. Prompted by different needs, various types of batch-wise operated brick or metal kilns were designed. The continuously operated retorts increased yields considerably (typically 1 kg of charcoal from 5 to 7 kg of wood) and produced a much more uniform charcoal product with a higher fixed carbon content. However, recent global concerns have turned attention to the problem of pollution. Charcoal factories emit huge amounts of smoke, soot and tarry particles and a foul odour, and are considered a health hazard. Current technological improvements aim at addressing this issue.

Miti October - December 2012

A 15-year-old Acacia zanzibarica (mpiga mururu). The species is gregarious in areas with a high groundwater table, can stand temporary water logging and regenerates easily. As such, it makes an excellent base for industrial charcoal production with a retort system. (Photo: BGF)

The closed system charcoal burning techniques (retort technologies) Modern carbonising retort systems have their origin in the growth of the chemical industry in the 19th century, which required recovery of chemicals from gasses of wood distilled in closed systems. The continuing need for high-grade industrial charcoal focused on finding ways to produce charcoal more efficiently by improving the conversion ratio, being less labour-intensive and reducing pollution. As a result, the Waggon retorts, and later the continuous and semicontinuous rinsing gas retorts of the Lambiotte and Reichert types, were designed. In addition, improvement of these systems was influenced by the need to convert finely divided bark and wood waste from large pine sawmills to charcoal and to make profits from supplying briquettes to growing urban recreational markets. This led to the development of the Herreshoff multiple hearth roasting furnace. The Waggon retort, the Reichert and Lambiotte processes and the Rotary hearth furnace have proved commercially viable in Europe and the USA. I have not come across use of any of these in Kenya and would appreciate a discussion on their use in the country for those who may have practical experience.

THE WAGGON OR ARKANSAS RETORT The Waggon or Arkansas retort, made from cast iron, was developed to reduce labour inputs and recover by-products. It comprised a set of retorts and coolers. Railway tracks and transfers connected the retorts with the wood storage yard. Waggon retorts were suitable for a variety of feed sizes, including round wood, split round wood and wood slabs of up to 1.2 metres. The wood should be dried to about 25 per cent moisture content for good results. The wood is charged into steel wagons. These roll into and are removed from the retort on steel rails in such a way that after carbonisation, the charcoal can be drawn quickly into the cooling chamber.

Advantages and disadvantages The logistics of the wood supply is a major factor in the cost of charcoal production. In addition, the maintenance costs of the steel wagons and the shell of the retort itself, tended to increase supervision and operating costs. If maintenance costs could be controlled by better design of the retort, this system is technically simple and unskilled personnel soon learn the operating skills. The system produces lump charcoal and the use of large pieces of wood reduces the cost of wood preparation considerably.

Miti October - December 2012

THE REICHERT RETORT SYSTEM The Reichert retort was designed to address the problem of transmitting heat to the charge inside the retort through the metal walls of the retort itself. This was the root cause of the heavy maintenance costs of the Waggon retort and its predecessors. In the Reichert retort, the heat is transferred to the wood by blowing re-circulated heated gas through the charge inside the retort. The gas is either inert or reducing in nature to prevent the wood igniting and is typically a heated fuel gas. The main unit of the system is a large steel vertical retort with a charge capacity of about 100 m3 and uses wood that is approximately 30 cm long and 10 cm thick. The wood should be small enough to â&#x20AC;&#x153;flowâ&#x20AC;? into the retort and yet not so small as to impede the gas circulation.

The process takes about 11 hours and charcoal is removed from the base in small quantities every 20 minutes. The operator controls this process and time can be varied to suit the moisture content of the wood, required rate of charcoal output and fixed carbon requirement in the product. The charcoal has to be cool when it leaves the retort as otherwise it would ignite on contact with the air.

Advantages and disadvantages The Reichert retort has been used commercially for more than 40 years. Operating costs of this retort improve through mechanisation of the handling of the wood and charcoal with automated gas circulation controls. However, the investment cost remains high.

THE LAMBIOTTE OR SIFIC PROCESS This technology enables continuous carbonisation of slab and round wood to produce lump charcoal. The pre-dried wood is fed by a skip-car or conveyor into a double bell gate, which allows the wood to enter and yet prevents escape of the retort gases. The level of the wood in the retort is monitored automatically. During carbonisation, the wood moves slowly down the retort, encountering a rising counter current flow of inert hot gas, which dries the wood and raises it to carbonising temperature.

Lambiotte retort

Advantages and disadvantages By causing the raw wood to pass in sequence through a series of zones where the various stages of carbonisation are carried out, it is possible to introduce economies in the use of labour and heat. This reduces production costs and increases the yield from a given amount of wood.


For steel carbonisers, corrosion by acetic and related acids is a problem. The corrosion can be overcome by using stainless steel in parts of the retort where attack is rapid. This increases costs.

THE ROTARY HEARTH FURNACE The rotary hearth furnace, also known as the Herreshoff roaster, is used to carbonise small particle size raw materials such as wood chips, bark seed hulls and shell fragments. A briquetting plant is essential in the system. The furnace consists of four to six circular refactory hearths of 6-8 m in diameter, stacked on top of each other. The furnace is started using gas or oil burners on each hearth to raise the temperature to about 600°C, causing the feedstock to ignite. The material moves slowly through the system whilst being constantly turned over, to be exposed to the combustion air passing through the furnace from the bottom to the top. Once the furnace is lit, it must operate continuously, 24 hours a day. Emitted gases can be burnt to produce power. The cooled charcoal is stored in a hopper sufficient to hold two or three days’ supply for the briquetting plant.

Natural regeneration of A. zanzibarica in Lamu District, in an area prone to temporary waterlogging where other trees die. Through good management, this resource can be used sustainably for large-scale charcoal production (Photo: BGF)

for power or merely burned to waste. Through good management, this resource can be used sustainably for large-scale charcol production.

NEW HIGH-YIELD, LOW-EMISSION SYSTEMS The current trend in charcoal production aims at improving the environmental performance of equipment while maintaining and/or improving charcoal yield and quality. Steel vessels or retorts are filled with pre-dried wood and placed in a ceramic brick-lined carbonisation furnace heated to 900°C. The tars and gases produced as the wood heats up are led to a separate hightemperature combustion chamber. The flue gas from this combustion chamber is used to heat the carbonisation furnace, and the remaining heat from the furnace is used to pre-dry the wood. The good heat management of this type of equipment makes it possible to produce 1 kg of charcoal from 3 to 4 kg of wood.

Advantages and disadvantages

Rotary Hearth retort (Herreshoff)

Advantages and disadvantages: The amount of wood or other residues needed to keep the furnace going is quite large. A small unit requires about 4 tons of oven dry residue per hour and the larger units about 10 tons per hour. The above quantities will yield about 1 to 2.5 tons of charcoal per hour, providing the moisture content is about 45 per cent of the green weight. This fine charcoal is briquetted, a process that doubles the costs. Herreshoff roasters have been successful when attached to large saw and plywood mills. The emissions from the process are burned


Because of the very high temperature of the combustion chamber, all particles, tars and gases are completely combusted. In the Netherlands, equipment of this type has been certified to meet strict emission standards for combustion installations (the twin retort charcoal producing system). The new high-yield, low-emission charcoal factories have higher investment costs than the old-fashioned brick or steel kilns or retorts. However, in many cases the improved yield more than compensates for the higher investment. As a result, this relatively new technology has spread in the past two years, not only in the environmentconscious countries of the European Union (France, the Netherlands), but also in Eastern Europe (Estonia) and in developing regions (China, Ghana, South Africa).

Selecting a carbonisation system Choosing a retort-type carbonisation system requires great care because of the capital

investment involved and the number of years for which the equipment must operate at a fixed location. An important factor to take into account is the cost of transporting the wood from the furthest points of the allocated area to the carbonisation site. Retorts in general cannot be moved around economically and this may have a drastic effect on production costs. If the material to be carbonised is not wood, this means additional investment in a briquetting plant. Where byproducts are to be produced, a refinery is built.

Conclusion Now that the policy and legal frameworks are in place in Kenya to support development of the charcoal industry, appropriate investment planning is important so as to reap maximum benefits. The choice of the charcoal production technology can be guided by: • Resource availability including the transport economics for both the wood and charcoal. • Nature of raw materials - is it wood or particles? • The need to recover by-products. • The investment capital. • Conversion levels i.e. yield of charcoal obtained from the wood. • Labour inputs and the number of jobs created or lost. These factors will determine whether to use the traditional methods, choose the improved (metallic or brick) kilns or invest in the industrial level retort technologies. The most powerful decision making consideration in choosing a carbonising system for charcoal for most developing countries is the interaction between the yield of a process and the capital necessary to install it. The writer is a Programme Support Officer (Natural Resources), Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Email:

Miti October - December 2012

Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) an Australian acacia that can produce up to 65 tonnes of dry biomass/ha, on a 9-year rotational basis. However, the species needs high rainfall. It is well known in Eldoret and the environs, where it was planted by EATEC for production of tannin. (Photo: BGF)

Charcoal for improved tree cover

Yes, producing the fuel sustainably saves trees and alleviates energy poverty By MARY NJENGA, NANCY KARANJA, MIYUKI IIYAMA, JACOB KITHINJI AND RAMNI JAMNADASS


orests have a number of benefits. They help conserve biodiversity, land, and water catchment; they are a source of recreation; they help mitigate climate change; and they provide fuel wood and timber, as well as various medicines. While some countries have been working to increase their forest cover, Kenya is currently experiencing a high rate of deforestation. Today the country has less than 2 per cent forest cover, as compared to Sweden, for example, where forests cover 60 per cent of the land. Efforts to reverse the negative trends are threatened by such factors as rapid population growth and poverty, both of which result in land-use changes. Forests are converted into agricultural land and pasture; wood is harvested for fuel, charcoal, timber and other products, and wild fires destroy the forests. Charcoal is the main cooking energy for 82 per cent of urban and 34 per cent of rural households in Kenya, with an estimated annual consumption of 2.4 million tonnes. Dependence on charcoal for cooking is similar in Tanzania, Zambia, and Ethiopia, where, respectively, 80 per cent, 85 per cent and 70 per cent of urban households rely on the fuel. The majority of people in these countries cannot afford electricity and/or liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which, unfortunately, require costly cooking appliances. Faced with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity, many poor communities are turning to charcoal-briquette production using tree by-products such as charcoal dust, which they bind with paper or soil.

Misconceptions and scepticism Despite regulations that stipulate ways of acquiring permits for sourcing and transporting charcoal, and policies that support wood fuel and bio fuel, with sections on charcoal, sustainability is still far from being achieved. One of the factors frustrating efforts to establish a sound charcoal sector are the many misconceptions among policymakers, researchers, development practitioners and the general public, particularly in regard to the legality and sustainability of the segment. For instance, the majority of Kenyans believe that most charcoal comes from protected forests. This is not the case. In fact, studies have shown that 86 per cent comes from individual or communal land. With proper enforcement, the 14 per cent that is obtained illegally from protected forests could be managed to less than five per cent (Mutimba and Barasa, 2005). Another issue affecting the sustainable development of the charcoal sector is the inappropriate blame put on it when trees are cut in forests or woodland savannahs to use the land for cultivation of crops or as pasture. In

Miti October - December 2012

these instances, charcoal is produced simply as a by-product, and the loss of trees would occur whether or not charcoal was produced. Finally, the misconceptions and negative attitudes result in a prohibitive attitude rather than an enabling one.

Charcoal production There are two common methods of sourcing wood for charcoal production in Kenya. One is when wood is sourced specifically for charcoal production, and this takes place mainly in arid and semi-arid lands. In the second method, charcoal is made from trees that have been cleared to make way for crop production or pasture. Though less common, there is a third method whereby tree by-products such as branches and stumps left after harvesting of poles are sometimes carbonised into charcoal. This sustainable practice is noted in some tree estates such as the eucalyptus plantations managed by Kakuzi in Thika. In the first method mentioned above, people cut trees to make charcoal for a livelihood. This situation escalates during dry periods, when severe food shortages are experienced and communities lose their livestock. Charcoal production becomes a coping strategy during such periods. With proper management, however, the natural regeneration of trees and shrubs could sustain the tree cover. Research shows that a nine-year cycle of Acacia drepanolobium woodland yields 12 tonnes per hectare of dry biomass, usable for charcoal production, through a coppice management system (Okello et al. 2001). Better yields of wood for charcoal production would be realised if plantations were established. Projects undertaken by the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), the University of Nairobi and EATEC Ltd Eldoret showed that a nine-year rotational cycle of Acacia mearnsii plantation yielded 65 tonnes per hectare


An Acacia drepanolobium (ant-galled acacia) shrub in the Nairobi National Park. The species can grow into a small tree (7.5m). It invades grasslands and can occupy large areas. It can be managed on a 9-year coppicing rotation, producing 12 tonnes of dry biomass per ha, for sustainable charcoal production. (Photo: BGF)

of wood usable for charcoal production through a coppice management system. The second method of sourcing wood is mentioned above and also takes place in arid and semi-arid lands, where poverty and population pressure are causing land-use change from pastoralism to crop production. Interventions such as agroforestry, in which crops, livestock and trees are linked, can help foster sustainability.

Transforming wood into charcoal Charcoal is produced by heating wood (or other raw materials) in a kiln with limited air, a process known as carbonisation. This results in a product with high heating value that burns longer than the original raw material (fuel wood). In Kenya, 99 per cent of charcoal producers use traditional earth kilns, which are cheap and easy to construct. However, these kilns have a low-yield efficiency (about 14 per cent) in weight, when converting wood to charcoal (Okello, 2001). KEFRI has developed improved kilns - namely earth, portable metal, drum, and the Casamance - with yield efficiencies ranging from 26 to 30 per cent. The traditional, low-efficiency kilns emit substantial amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), particulate matter (PM), and oxides of nitrogen, all of which contribute to climate change. One researcher (Pennise, 2001) found that the carbonisation of wood in a traditional earth kiln to produce one kilogram of charcoal emitted 1802 grams of CO2 into the atmosphere. Further, using traditional kilns - with their low conversion of biomass into charcoal - results in 86 per cent loss of wood and energy. This creates undue


Plate 1a: Wood carbonisation using improved kiln by Kakuzi Ltd (Photo: Mary Njenga)

Plate1b: Improved wood carbonisation with a method used in Sweden. (Photo: Orberg)

Miti October - December 2012

demand for trees and land. This is further proof of the need to popularise the more efficient carbonisation processes. On the other hand, using improved wood carbonisation methods with 33 per cent charcoal yield efficiency, like the Kakuzi one (Plate 1a), would result in saving 58 per cent of trees. Best practices in charcoal carbonisation such as the one used in Sweden with a 44 per cent yield efficiency (Plate 1b), could be adapted to Kenyan situations. In this method, the flue gases are harvested for heating houses as well as indirectly heating (without contact) the wood being carbonised in the silos.

Efficient charcoal stoves Well-designed cooking stoves save fuel, ensuring that households obtain the best returns on their meagre investments in cooking energy. Eighty five per cent of urban households in Kenya use the improved Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCJ), which has an energy-conversion efficiency range of 33 to 35 per cent, as compared to the 10 to 15 per cent obtained with traditional stoves. Using the KCJ results in a 26 per cent saving in household annual incomes (Mugo et al. 2007). The other important issue to consider in respect to cooking stoves is indoor air quality. Cooking with charcoal using the KCJ causes an indoor air concentration of 42.5 ppm carbon monoxide (CO), 173 ppm carbon dioxide (CO2) and 0.26g/m3 fine particulate matter (PM2.5) (Njenga et al., 2012). The adoption of efficient cooking stoves in Kenya has been reported to reduce CO emissions by 15 per cent (Kituyi, 2001). In addition to contributing to global warming, these gases and particles pose a serious health risk, especially to women and children under five, the two groups of people that spend more time in the kitchen than others.

Are fuel briquettes the answer? To answer this question, we have been conducting research on fuel briquette quality and the impact of briquette use on livelihoods, health, and the environment. The findings were published in Miti magazine issues 12, 13, and 14. In this article, we highlight the contributions of charcoal-dust briquette to forest conservation and climate change mitigation. Heaps of charcoal dust are a common site at charcoal wholesale and retail selling stalls. Increasingly, women from the informal settlements and low-income families collect the dust and mix it with water and soil to bind it together. The mixtures are then moulded into blocks using recycled plastic containers and dried in the sun. Using such charcoal dust that would otherwise

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be burned could result in the production of enough fuel to cook an extra 20 per cent of githeri (a mixture of maize and beans) for a standard household of five people, without cutting down any additional trees. Recovering the dust for charcoal briquettes results in over 15 per cent reduction in trees being cut down. In addition, the charcoal briquettes emit lower concentrations of indoor air pollutants - 14.5 ppm carbon monoxide (CO), 85.2 ppm carbon dioxide (CO2), and 0.03g/m3 fine particulate matter (PM2.5). This is the equivalent of a 65 per cent, 50 per cent and 90 per cent reduction, respectively, compared with charcoal. This is due to the dilution of carbon by the 20 per cent weight of the charcoal briquette, using soil as a binder. In economic terms, one needs 850 grams of briquettes to cook a meal; at a cost of Ksh 3 if one were to buy the fuel, and Ksh 2 if one were to produce it. Cooking the same meal with charcoal and kerosene costs Ksh 26 (890 grams of charcoal) and Ksh 45 (0.36 litres of kerosene), respectively. It takes three hours to cook githeri using any of the three types of fuel. Studies have shown that the desperation to put food on the table has caused some poor families, especially in slums, to use such unsafe burning materials as old shoes and plastic containers. Charcoal briquettes would eliminate or reduce this.

Improving sustainability in charcoal and briquettes Charcoal as a source of cooking fuel has the potential to alleviate energy poverty in Kenya. With appropriate management systems, for example, the use of short rotational cycles of native vegetation or plantations wood can be converted into charcoal in a way that results in improved tree cover. Recycling charcoal dust into briquettes could supply affordable cooking fuel, conserve the environment and address the problem of indoor air pollution. For the potential of wood fuel to be tapped in a sustainable manner, further research and development work will be necessary in each stage of its production cycle and use. Mary Njenga is a doctoral research fellow at the Department of Land Resource Management and Agricultural Technology (LARMAT), University of Nairobi, Kenya, and ICRAF. Ramni Jamnadass and Miyuki Iiyama are scientists at ICRAF, while Nancy Karanja and Jacob Kithinji are a professor and lecturer, respectively, at the University of Nairobi. Mary Njenga is also a fellow with African Women in Agricultural Research and Development (AWARD) and a guest researcher scholar at the Department of Energy and Technology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and at the Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies, Michigan State University. For correspondence,

Correction In Miti issue 15, on page 23, we published the wrong photograph of the moorland in the Aberdares Conservation area. We apologise for this and now publish the correct photograph. View of the moorland in the Aberdares Conservation area. (Photo: Christian Lambrechts)


Two Komaza officers explain the farmers’ recruitment process into the Komaza programme. (Photo: BGF)

From NGO to private company KOMAZA is slowly making a difference to life in Ganze and the surrounding areas By JAN VANDENABEELE


une 29, 2012 was a special day for KOMAZA. The non-profit social enterprise, which plants trees on smallscale farms in arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) in Kenya’s Coast region, had its Open Day. The event was held at Ganze, the headquarters of a new district by the same name that was carved out of Kilifi. The activities of KOMAZA were covered in an article in Miti issue 8 (October -December 2010), and this field day was a good occasion to visit their operations on the ground. KOMAZA, which is Swahili for “promote development and encourage growth”, was founded in 2006. The organisation has undoubtedly made significant progress over the years. It continues to engage more farmers into planting trees, having reached over 2,600 farmers with an ambitious increase of an additional 1,700 planned for the rainy season of October -December 2012. These figures conceal a logistically demanding operation, with numerous extension staff, and various, well conceived, technical inputs.


Extension staff work on an intensive visiting and reporting schedule, with a field manager in each location, assisted by two or three field officers and up to seven facilitators. This allows for an intensive training schedule for farmers signing up for the programme.

Area of operations KOMAZA’s core area of operations is the semi-arid interior of Ganze and its environs, but increasingly expanding along the coastal strip around Kilifi. It is a harsh and deprived environment, as evidenced by the landscape and its actual use. On large, open spaces, the vegetation is completely degraded by years of tree-cutting for charcoal exploitation, with scattered patches of farmland for subsistence agriculture, without any water-harvesting structures in place. Soils consist of infertile, leached sands on hill slopes, and clay in valley bottoms that run out of water as the dry season sets in. Water is becoming increasingly rare, as the forest that is supposed to stock and release it has been destroyed. Rainfall drops rapidly from an estimated 800mm at the coast, to about 400 -

450mm inland, and is typically unpredictable and variable. Mean annual temperatures range between 24 - 300C and evaporation stands at 1600 - 2300mm annually.

Business model A farmer, and most are women, pays a small fee (Ksh 200) as registration into the programme, and is then assisted to plant ¾ of an acre (3000m2) with trees. The farmer provides the land and the labour for both establishment and maintenance, while KOMAZA provides technical advice, tree seedlings, hydrogel and termiticide, as well as seeds for an initial cover crop of cowpeas, and most significantly, a future market for the produce. These inputs are provided on credit basis, to be paid back by the farmer once harvesting starts. KOMAZA retains ownership of the trees, which so far are mostly GC hybrids1 as promoted in East Africa by the Tree Biotechnology Programme. Spacing is 3x3m, resulting in a standard plot of 256 trees, fast-growing – as long as there is sufficient rain. Even these eucalypt hybrids need a minimum of rainfall to prosper. 1

Crosses between Eucalyptus grandis and E. camaldulensis

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A successful farmer During the Field Day, Miti talked to Erastus Jefwa. He is enlisted as a farmer in the KOMAZA tree growing programme, and is also an extension agent. His plot of GC hybrids was planted four years ago, and during a first thinning earlier this year, he cut one third of his trees. “They were of pole size, good for construction, and fetched over Ksh 20,000,” he explained. The amount makes a big difference to this farmer. Tellingly, Mr Jefwa’s farm is relatively close to the ocean, with sufficient rainfall. He is good as an extension agent, as he speaks from experience.

Farmers listen to the message. They know it can improve their lives. (Photo: BGF)

Rainfall is adequate close to the coastline, but further inland, the low and erratic rainfall can be a problem. With adequate rainfall, the choice of eucalypts is absolutely logical. This is because eucalypts present numerous advantages such as straight and fast growth, a homogeneous crop (because of clones), are relatively pest and diseasefree, produce wood suitable for poles, timber and charcoal, and coppicing after felling, so a farmer can get up to three generations of growth, though each coppice generation will have fewer surviving tree stumps. Because of increasing cases of tree mortality, caused by drought, KOMAZA is diversifying its tree species towards, among others, mukau (Melia volkensii), a species well known to Miti readers. Other species under trial are Tectona grandis and Gmelina arborea. KOMAZA is looking for species that can be grown profitably on clay and loam soils in low rainfall areas. [The answer may lie in Faidherbia albida for agroforestry, while fruit trees such as Tamarindus indica, Morus alba (mulberry), perhaps mango, and

indigenous acacias such as A. tortilis, A. elatior, and A. polyacantha, combined with bee keeping and high-value short-term crops. The solution might even lie in plain improved E. camaldulensis. Trials will provide answers.]

The future Having defined their basic concept, KOMAZA is working towards a sustainable future. The organisation has built a strong foundation, underpinned by proper and adequate training, resulting in a smooth-working outreach to the communities. Now they want to change status from NGO to private company, in order to raise sufficient funds, taking on debt and equity. This way, the organisation would fulfil its vision, which is: “To be East Africa’s largest forestry company.” KOMAZA needs to recruit more farmers into the programme, and they plan to have a pole and timber processing facility in place by 2022. However, there are challenges. KOMAZA has to compete with other organisations such as World

Clonal hedges in KOMANZA’s experimental field station, where eucalypt cuttings are harvested to be rooted in the nursery and distributed to farmers. (Photo: BGF)

Erastus Jefwa (left) and Emmanuel Masha, both field officers working with Komaza. Mr Jefwa is also a farmer. He enrolled in Komaza’s programme and planted a eucalypt woodlot where the first thinning earned him good money. (Photo: BGF)

Vision (“Food for work”!) and Plan International for the attention and time of farmers. In addition, KOMAZA has to overcome the negative image that surrounds the growing of eucalypts. However, most important, the organisation has to limit the mortality in the inland tree plots, which is due to erratic rainfall on poor soils as well as to maintenance, as eucalypts are very sensitive to competition from grass and weeds. Motivating farmers to practise good weeding is not easy - hoeing for a non-food crop with no immediate return. KOMAZA will surely get there, as evidenced by moving towards alternative, more droughtresistant tree species, and by a culture that is dynamic and responsive to changing circumstances. The writer is the Executive Director, Better Globe Forestry. Email:

Miti October - December 2012


Securing the future Investing in commercial forestry is the way forward, says Ugandan doctor turned tree-grower

View of Dr Zaramba’s pine plantation. (Photo: Miti)

Dr Sam Zaramba spoke to Diana Ahebwe, the Miti magazine Country Representative for Uganda. Below are excerpts from the interview: Please tell us about yourself I am a medical doctor by profession who has specialised in nose and throat surgery for more than 37 years. I have practised as an ear, nose and throat consultant, not only in Uganda, but also in other countries such as Lesotho, Austria and many others. I was the Director of Health Services in Uganda for 11 years and was promoted to Director General of Health Services until 2010 when I retired. I was the chairman of the executive board of the World Health Organisation in Geneva from 2008 to 2009. I have advocated for integrated disease control of neglected tropical diseases and vector control nationally and globally and I have been credited with the success of the “Strategy of Child Health Days Plus” campaign in Uganda. I not only save people’s lives, but also practise nature conservation and green economy through commercial forestry in Uganda. What motivated you to turn to tree-growing? First of all, I have a passion for trees which is my driving force. I started by establishing a woodlot back at home in Kabale, an area known for fuelwood scarcity. This was done mainly to secure my family from food insecurity. I also established some eucalyptus trees in Mukono. When I was the captain of the Uganda Golf Club, I encouraged my colleagues to plant trees both for beautification and reclaiming the land. So the trees, especially


Dr Sam Zaramba financed a shallow well with a hand pump to provide clean drinking water for the local community. (Photo: Miti)

pine, at the Uganda Golf Club, which are now 10 years old, were planted because of me. My desire for tree-planting grew and I decided to invest in commercial forestry beginning with my savings. I felt it was a good idea for me to invest in tree-planting rather than constructing houses because day by day I see my investments grow in that even if I stopped now, my investment would be worthwhile. The money I would get from trees is more than what I would get from houses.

I was busy in the office. She has been unselfishly dedicated to the plantation, learning everything about trees from the beginning up to now and if it were not for her, I would not have reached this level. I got a lease of 49 years from National Forestry Authority in 2006 on more than 100 hectares, specifically for tree planting. So we started the project of commercial tree planting which I named Samareiza Forest Plantation.

Considering your medical background, how did you get into commercial tree-planting? Because of my passion for tree-planting, I was willing to learn and to practise it so I had to seek knowledge about commercial forestry. I did this with the support of my wife Maria. She attended some plantation establishment courses because

How old are your trees, what species have you planted and why the particular species? My trees are of different ages because I didn’t plant them all at the same time. The oldest plantation is five and a half years old. I started with Pinus caribaea because it was recommended at that time by SPGS (Sawlog Production Grant

Miti October - December 2012

Dr Zaramba and his wife Maria in a one-year-old clonal eucalypt plantation. The tree growth is tremendous. (Photo: Miti)

Scheme) due to availability of the improved seeds. It was not until I travelled to South Africa that I realised that eucalyptus clones were good for commercial forestry so I adopted the idea and established three hectares for a start. The trees are doing very well. My one-year-old eucalyptus clones are encouraging; I wish I had started my business with them. What are the ecological details of your planting area? Samareiza Forest Plantation is located in Kiteredde, Muraji Goyera Central Forest Reserve, Kiboga District. It experiences a tropical climate with moderate rainfall and temperatures of 23 270 Celsius. The rainfall pattern is bimodal with two seasons and annual rainfall varying between 560mm to 1272mm of rain. The months of March to May and September to November receive very heavy and well-distributed rains of up to 1200 mm. There are two dry seasons, namely, June to July and December to February. How many hectares have you planted? I started with four hectares of eucalyptus and five hectares of pine in Mukono. The pine seedlings were doing poorly until I realised the benefits of planting good quality seedlings. I then planted 25 hectares of improved seedlings of Pinus caribaea in 2007 under the guidance of SPGS. As I talk, I have more than 121 hectares of both eucalyptus and pine. Where do you get the seedlings from? I get my seedlings, particularly of pine, from nurseries recommended by SPGS - either from Core Woods in Hoima or Kampala. I learnt a lesson when I bought seedlings from a private farmer who claimed to have raised them from improved seeds but on planting, they were a mixture of species. The quality of that part of the plantation is different from the current one with seedlings from a certified nursery. I got eucalyptus clones from Kifu Clonal Nursery in Mukono, a Gatsby project, and they are doing well. How many people have you employed and what do they do? There are 15 people permanently employed at the site, including the manager of the plantation who is also the LC11 chairman. He is always at the site and supervises the workers. Others are professional contractors who do the planting, thinning and pruning. Men on-site do the slashing, spraying and patrolling of the plantation while the women do spot-weeding by hoeing. What are your future plans – what do you want 1 LC1: Local Council, which is an elected government, at the lowest level (there are five levels), representing a village.

Miti October - December 2012

to do with mature trees? Any plans to increase acreage or to process the raw timber? At the moment my land is all filled up so I can’t plant more trees but in case I get more land, I will plant eucalyptus clones. In eight years’ time I hope I will be selling poles and then replant. Even when I die I will leave the dream with my children. What is your planting regime? Uganda has two planting seasons, that is, March to May and September to November. Each season I made sure I planted 25 hectares until I covered all the land. And because I plant in season and at the right time, I have always had 85 to 90 per cent survival in the field, so beating-up has not been a problem. What has made you succeed in forestry? My passion for forestry has been my driving force. I also have a hardworking partner who is very keen on supervision of the plantations, and we have followed the advice given to us by SPGS during field inspections. My wife and I have attended some training courses with SPGS on plantation establishment and maintenance. These courses have equipped us to establish good plantations and protect them from fires through establishment of good fire lines. I have good forest roads that make inspection easy and have a good relationship with workers and the surrounding communities. Some communities have farms near the plantation so they are motivated when we buy their products such as beans and maize. This relationship has helped us especially when it comes to forest protection and employment. I also constructed a borehole for supplying safe water to the plantation and the communities around. What challenges have you encountered and how have you overcome them? At first, I had problems with squatters, particularly those with farms nearby. I had to deal with them tactfully until they vacated the land. Some were compensated and even one left a house behind

that now acts as a labour camp. I realised that one needs good public relations and patience as these are people who are going to be permanent neighbours for a number of decades to come. The challenge that I am facing currently is weed control since the soils where the plantation is located are very fertile. When the rainy season begins, the weeds become aggressive and it’s hard to control them. Therefore I have to incur high labour costs to minimise the weeds and also prevent them from becoming a fire hazard. We use three methods to minimise these weeds – that is, slashing, spraying with chemicals and rearing sheep. The sheep now number 56 and I hope to acquire more sheep and cattle to reduce the cost of weeding. What advice do you give to investors in trees, especially those who have just started or are yet to start? Investment in tree-planting is worthwhile and from this experiment I have had with eucalyptus clones, I have been encouraged and I encourage others to try it out. Eucalyptuses are fast-growing so you see your living investment growing day by day. Those who have limited land should establish clonal nurseries because there is a high demand for clonal seedlings and yet the supply is limited. Even if one planted one hectare, one would be motivated to plant more of these clones as they are fast-growing. One can begin earning money almost straightaway from the thinnings. If one has the passion and the patience to invest in forestry, the investment is there to stay and it is worthwhile. Do you have anything else to add? I want to encourage Ugandans to set up plantation insurance as happens in South Africa. Ugandans should start regarding commercial forestry like any other business. Insurance of forests, especially from fires, would encourage farmers and also strengthen commercial forestry in Uganda. In addition, the government should appreciate the value of forests and forestry as a sector because it is the backbone of our economy.


Truly a multi-purpose tree The baobab provides food, medicine, containers, clothing and a host of other items By RUPERT WATSON


he baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) is some things to many people, and many things to some. It is food for humans and their animals, a pharmacy to treat tropical ailments, and a provider of raw materials for almost limitless uses. The very essence of the baobab is contained in its trunk. The same regenerative powers that enable baobabs to survive excavations by elephants also allow bark to be harvested many times in the treeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s life. Beneath the grey layer of outer bark, past the green chlorophyll, is the inner paler fibre, which has more uses than a ball of string. This is removed in strips, and moistened (sometimes by chewing), then pounded, before being twisted together into cords of varying thickness. Robust individuals of several tree species can occasionally survive ringbarking, but the ability of Adansonia digitata to tolerate the repeated removal of wide encircling panels must surely make it unique in Africa. Almost everywhere baobabs grow, their bark

is stripped and plaited. The twisted fibres harness donkeys, mules or oxen to their carts, while thicker bundles make ropes. The cord itself can be woven into mats, and if the weave is tight enough, the fibre can be used to make cups and other containers for liquid. The cord can also be turned into coarse cloth, waterproof hats in Senegal, fabric for shoes in Zanzibar, or fibre filters for sieving traditional honey brew elsewhere in Tanzania. The Kamba in Kenya hoist up beehives and lower down containers of honey with baobab bark ropes, and also make particularly fine baskets from the cord. Baobabs are about as watery as the human body - around 70 per cent - and their high moisture content has spared them the sort of wholesale destruction so many other trees have suffered. Above all, it makes the wood all but useless as firewood, charcoal or building material. When a baobab finally collapses and starts to crumble, the rotting fibres make an excellent fertiliser to spread back on the land from which the tree emerged, but such

benefit is certainly not enough to justify the effort of actually felling a tree. Besides the bark, the greatest attribute of a baobab tree trunk is its emptiness. In the daily grind of rural life, the opportunity to use empty baobab trunks as stores or shelters is far too valuable to ignore. The eventual use to which these natural havens are put depends on the immediate needs of the community, influenced perhaps by prevailing systems of land ownership. Hollow baobabs make homes, shops and storage space for everything from road mending tools and bicycles to animal feed. Some have doubled as stables, meeting places and a dairy, and trees growing beside well-travelled roads are likely to serve as bus shelters. In southern Africa, more than one baobab has served as a prison and others as informal post boxes where hunters, prospectors, missionaries and others living on the edges of the Kalahari wastes would leave their correspondence for passers-by heading for South Africa to post there. The living human body is never better

A baobab in its environment: huge and thriving and seemingly indestructible. (Photo: KFS)


Miti October - December 2012

Farmers in Kibwezi sell baobab fruit. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

nurtured by hollow baobabs than when they fill up with water. It seems strange that the use of hollow trunks as wells is not nearly as widespread as the trees are. Where most baobabs grow, water is scarce, and maintaining a supply throughout the dry seasons may literally be a matter of life and death. In the absence of cement, corrugated iron or a good hole in the ground, baobabs make extremely effective wells, and if nature does not hollow them out, man is perfectly able to do so himself. Hollows in branches are often taken over by bees, and all over Africa, wooden pegs on baobab trunks lead up to their nests. If bees need further encouragement, artificial hives are suspended from the baobab’s great spreading branches. The most enthusiastic beekeepers in Kenya are the Kamba, much of whose homeland is populated with baobabs and who hollow out Commiphora logs to make hives. Leaves, flowers and fruit on the tree nourish different birds and animals. Small wonder therefore, that omnivorous man also finds baobab produce the source of much goodness. Most of those living around baobab trees know that the leaves make good eating. “Good” is relative, and in the more fertile parts of baobab country, local inhabitants seldom resort to eating baobab leaves or feeding them to livestock, and the trees retain the full-branched look, quite unlike those in Eritrea or the Sahel. There, the annual harvest of greenery stunts baobab limbs, and is bought at the price of far fewer fruit from these pollarded trees. Leaves are at their tastiest and most nutritious when they are pale greeny-yellow, tender and small. They can then be eaten straight or boiled up and added to soup. Be sure to remove the central ribs before cooking this spinach-like delicacy. Fresh leaves adorn the trees for little more than four months of the year and to make the supply last through the year they must be dried, then stored, either in powdered form or whole. Leaves dry quickly and easily in the sun, but

Miti October - December 2012

The inside of a fruit. (Photo: Jan Vandenabeele)

this destroys their carotene which is a source of vitamin A. It is better to dry them slowly in the shade. The powder is used to season and thicken stews, make sauces and add to couscous or porridge. Like baobab fruit, the fresh leaves are rich in vitamin C, most of which is lost once these are dried, although drying enhances calcium content. If bats or bush babies have done their pollinating work, small fruit will start appearing on the ends of the baobab branches. By the time the seeds are ripe, embedded in their white acidic pith, the tree is usually leafless, dripping with the baubles of hard-shelled pods. The baobab pith’s best-known component is its vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Different analyses report the pith to be anything between four and ten times richer in vitamin C than oranges. All agree it is the richest known natural source of the vitamin, which promotes healing and is particularly important for healthy bones and tendons. The pith also contains tartaric acid, sometimes called cream of tartar. Added to baking powder, this is the extract from potassium bitartrate for which baobab fruit pith has often been used as a substitute. Repeatedly knocking pods before breaking them open helps separate pith from seeds, otherwise this is best done by adding the pod’s contents to water and stirring the mixture with a forked stick. When mixed with water or milk (which it curdles), pith produces a healthy and refreshing drink, acid-tasting, rather like sherbet. This can be sweetened by adding sugar or honey, and the mixture condensed into quite an acceptable jam. Along the East African coast, the pith is flavoured with coconut, and the mixture thickened into a sauce for enlivening maize meal, ground guinea corn or other local versions of porridge. Seeds coated in coloured sugar are sold in packets all along the East African coast. They are nutritious, rich in protein and potassium. However, to become remotely palatable they either need cooking, fermenting or at least

pounding up. Roasting makes seeds brittle, and easier to grind, either to use like coffee in hot drinks or to make a culinary flavouring. If the husks can be removed, the kernels provide an excellent edible oil. They are full of fat, as well as calcium, thiamine and iron, with even more Vitamin B1 than ground nuts or rice bran. Mashed pips have made shampoos for Swahili women for many centuries, and throwing out the seeds after hair washing is said to have contributed to the growth of baobabs around human settlements. Enclosing the pith and oil-filled pips is the seed pod; the multi-shaped, all-purpose container. Old pods, still full of seeds, can make fishing floats or be rattled to the beat of traditional music, and once emptied of their natural contents the only restrictions on their uses are the limits of human imagination. Pods burn well, and the resulting ash, rich in potassium, makes fertiliser and soap - and if there is anything left over after all that, powdered pods are even said to be worth smoking or adding to snuff. On much of the East African coast, average annual rainfall is well over 1000mm, and residents are favoured with an abundant supply of alternative foods. Some of them eat baobab leaves and fruit pith, but generally the only serious activity around the baobab is scraping out pith-covered seeds to sweeten and sell as confectionary. True, the sea is close but its bounty is fast fading; so is it a relative abundance of local produce, much of it, like mangoes and pawpaws, of foreign origin, which seems to have rendered the baobab’s products superfluous? Was it always so? Until the arrival of all this exotic sustenance, the baobab must surely have provided the inhabitants of the East African coast with more than pips to suck and the odd pair of bark-rope sandals. Writer and naturalist Rupert Watson is the author of The African Baobab, published by Struik in South Africa Email:


Pans (silanka ya ndovu) are natural reservoirs or elephant-made depressions on flat land.

Reading the landscape Farmers can build inexpensive pans, ponds and earth dams to provide water for all seasons, even in drylands By ERIK NISSEN-PETERSEN


ll farmers dream of having their own water source on their farm for domestic use, for their livestock and for smallscale irrigation. Although this may appear like an impossible dream, it can become a reality even in arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL). This can be achieved through “reading the landscape” and working on the water sources during the dry seasons when there is little else to do on farms. In the flat lands west of the Usambara Mountains in Tanzania, hundreds of farmers have built their own charco dams and many of these provide water for domestic use and livestock. Every dry season, the farmers deepen their dams until the dams can store water throughout the year. In Kenya, Egerton University cooperates with many farmers in building farm ponds that can keep water for most of the year.

Water in earth dams is usually contaminated and unfit for human consumption. However, water from a hand-dug well, sunk in a seepage area near the reservoir or downstream of the earth dam wall, is filtered and clean. Water can be sterilised for drinking by boiling, exposure to the sun’s UV rays in plastic bottles or by chemical treatment. Most farmers complain, often justifiably, about lack of money for investments. Nevertheless, a small earth dam can be built using family labour only, while larger dams require hired labour. Earth dams can also be constructed using animal drawn equipment, farm tractors with a scoop and large crawlers.

TYPES OF DAMS There are several types of earth dams and each type is suitable for a certain type of landscape. It is

A comparison of the 2005 cost of constructing three types of earth dams:

Type of dam

Construction method

Reservoir volume m3

Water: soil

Excavated soil m3

Cost/ m3

Total cost Ksh

Cost/m3 of water (Ksh)

Excavated pond








Charco dams
























Hillside dams
























Valley dams
































Source: Water from ponds, pans and dams by Erik Nissen-Petersen, for RELMA/Sida, Kenya, 2005.


therefore important to “read the landscape” and select the most suitable type of a pan, a pond or an earth dam. Pans (silanka ya ndovu) are natural reservoirs or elephant-made depressions in flat land. Borrow pits were excavated for construction or roads. These can be used for storage of rainwater run-off near the road. Ponds are small earth dams with dam walls and spillways, which may be enlarged to larger earth dams. Fish ponds are lined excavation for storage of irrigation water and rainwater run-off. The Kenya government has subsidised more than 30,000 fish ponds. Charco dams in Tanzania are built in many shapes but the Kenyan version is hemi-spherical or half ball-shaped. It gives maximum volume for minimum work. Hillside dams are semi-circular with a spillway at each end of the curved dam wall. There is little risk of hillside dams being damaged by excessive floods provided the dam wall is at least 1.5m higher than the floor of the spillways (freeboard). Valley dams have a straight dam wall that should have a spillway at both ends. Although valley dams may be the least expensive to construct in respect of the volume of storage, they are more prone to damage than any other type of earth dam due to the unpredictable volume of floods in a changing climatic regime.

SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR DAM CONSTRUCTION Soil type When a suitable site for a dam has been selected and the best type of earth dam has been decided,

Miti October - December 2012

Tanzanian farmers look at a charco dam.

Domestic water drawn from a well at an earth dam.

Borrow pits were excavated for construction of roads. These can be used for storage of rainwater running off the nearby road.

Fish ponds are lined excavations for storage of irrigation water and rainwater run-off. GoK has subsidised more than 30,000 fish ponds.

Valley Dams have a straight dam wall that should have a spillway at both ends of the dam wall. Its long length, and straightness makes it more vulnerable to breakage in case of exceptional water build-up. All Photos: Erik Nissen - Petersen

Testing soil samples for the slowest infiltration rate for building a dam wall.

then the best soil for building the dam wall has to be determined. This should be close to the construction site. To determine the best soil, cut off the bottom of some plastic bottles and place them, upside down without caps, either in sand or between stones. Next, take samples of soil from different spots near the site and put into different bottles, just three-quarters of the way up. Thereafter, pour water onto the soil samples and for about an hour, observe the infiltration rate of the water seeping through the soil. The most suitable soil is the one with the slowest infiltration rate, which, in the sketch above, is No. 3. This soil has a high clay content, with fine particles that limit water seepage. Construction approval Thereafter the base of the dam wall and its spillways are marked with pegs on the ground. According to the Water Act of 2002, the local Agricultural Officer or Water Officer must approve the dam project before excavation

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starts and after it is completed. The standard designs and approximate construction costs presented in “Water from small dams” in may be adapted for the application procedure. Although obtaining the approval may cause a slight delay, it could result in obtaining some good advice and a visit to a construction site for a similar dam. Work organisation The best way to excavate and transport big volumes of soil for building an earth dam, is to measure out “plots”, each with a volume of 1 cubic metre, and pay people an agreed amount for each plot they excavate. Usually, men excavate the soil in the spillways, while women transport the excavated soil from the spillways to the dam wall in wheelbarrows. The writer is the Managing Director, ASAL Consultants Ltd. Email:

A spillway being excavated.


The visitors are briefed. Fifth right is Roberto Ridolfi from the Delegation of the European Union, and next to him (in a green helmet) is Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther, the Norwegian ambassador. (Photo: Miti)

Well done, envoys tell SPGS They urge for more support for the forestry sector in Uganda By DIANA AHEBWE


gandan forests are quickly dwindling under the pressures of fuel wood supply, alternative uses of land and human settlement, among others. This remains a major concern. The Norwegian ambassador to Uganda, Thorbjørn Gaustadsæther and Roberto Ridolfi from the Delegation of the European Union (EU), in June visited Mityana and Mubende districts to review the achievements of the Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS). The Government of Uganda (GoU) was represented by Paul Mafabi from the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE). SPGS, which started in 2004, is a partnership between the Government of Uganda, the EU and the Government of Norway. The total funding commitment (to 2013/2014) is US$ 25 million. The project has generated a lot of interest because of what it has achieved on the ground and the way the private sector has been attracted to invest in what was previously seen as a statedominated sector. SPGS aims at supporting rural incomes though commercial tree planting by small and medium entrepreneurs in Uganda, through a public-private partnership. The scheme seeks to bridge the supply gap of wood products by increasing production of good quality timber. SPGS supports planters through financial conditional grants and tree-planting knowledge and skills. Setting and maintaining plantation standards sets the mark for SPGS support.

Achievements of SPGS SPGS has had a major impact on the sector in a relatively short time. It has raised awareness of the importance of well-managed plantations to meet future timber requirements. SPGS has also succeeded in attracting substantial private equity into the sector. The impact on rural employment is also substantial. In just seven years, 27,000 hectares of timber plantations have been established to the agreed standards by some 300 private investors contracted to SPGS, mostly small to medium-sized local entrepreneurs with no


previous experience in commercial forestry. During this period, over 1.9 million tree seedlings have been supplied to over 40 community groups surrounding the commercial growers. In 2011 alone, 326 people attended SPGS’s practical training courses (1,255 training man-days). SPGS has set minimum standards in forestry. These include minimum of 80 per cent stocking after three months; the use of improved seed for the main commercial species and specific weeding practices. All these are to ensure the investor has a quality and profitable crop. SPGS is now working closely with the Uganda Timber Growers Association (UTGA) to lay the foundation for attracting investment to ensure that an appropriate processing industry is developed in Uganda in the near future.

The background and the status of Uganda’s energy needs Against a background of rampant, ongoing deforestation and huge ( more than 90 per cent) dependency on woody biomass for basic energy needs, it became evident many years ago that to avoid humanitarian and biodiversity crises, Uganda would have to start replanting trees seriously, for the country’s timber and fuel wood requirements. Previous attempts by the state to reforest had recorded poor results. Part of the sector reforms in the late 1990s/early 2000s were to set up a scheme to attract private sector entrepreneurs into forestry. During the visit to Mityana and Mubende, Ambassador Ridolfi noted that the demand for timber and other forest products exceeds

domestic supply and therefore Uganda desperately needs to establish a substantial and sustainable timber resource. “Even with the 27,000 hectares established to date with SPGS support, much more needs to be done,” he said, further noting that with no more than 60,000 hectares of plantations currently established in Uganda, this falls far short of the country’s basic requirement of 150,000 hectares.

The future for SPGS Increasingly, the focus in Uganda is going beyond just establishing trees, to development of the processing industry and markets. SPGS is also currently expanding into commercial bioenergy, e.g. charcoal plantations and improved technology for charcoal production. SPGS is attracting interest from many other countries keen to explore how the “SPGS model” is working.

Conclusion The mission to assess the performance of SPGS was fruitful as it was aimed at celebrating the partnership between the GoU – MWE, the Government of Norway and the EU through SPGS. The ambassadors visited two plantations and interacted with the planters and members of UTGA. The ambassadors reaffirmed the commitment of the European Union and Norway to support the emergence of a commercial forestry sector as an essential element for sustainable development. The writer is the Country Representative, Miti Magazine (Uganda) Email:

Miti October - December 2012

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