With 10 years of active interest in tree conservation and sustainable forest management, members of the African Forest Forum (AFF) demonstrated their experience in hands-on plants-man-ship at a tree planting spree to boost the Karura forest in Nairobi.
The tree planting exercise as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations according to the chair of AFF governing councils was testament to the green finger talents of the members.
“The tree planting segment is the most important aspect of the anniversary. It is a manifest of the mission and objective of the African Forest Forum, and also a demonstration of how the organisation connects with nature and humanity,” says Macarthy Oyobo, Chair of AFF Governing Council.
The Karura Forest, where the 10th anniversary celebrations of AFF took place, sits proudly in the outskirts of the city of Nairobi, albeit tucked quietly away just off the hustling and bustling that characterise city life. It is a true forest of all seasons.
Professor Godwin Kowero, executive secretary of AFF that coordinated the celebrations and tree planting exercise, said they wanted to mark the anniversary in a significant way.
“AFF members are lovers of nature and many of us learn lessons of life from nature. This explains why this planting exercise is very significant,” Kowero said.
He noted that trees were an important part of life, the solution pathway to the disturbing water crisis the world over.
“There are conflicts of water resources happening all over the world. Forest has a critical role in the solution to this growing water crisis,” Kowero said in his opening address at the anniversary celebrations.
AFF members from over 35 African countries attending the anniversary celebrations and also taking part at the tree planting exercise hailed the event, noting it was a footprint that will stand the test of time in the history of the now famous Karura forest.
“The Karura Forest has made history in Kenya and by participating in this exercise we are being part of this history,” says Cameroon born Dr Martin Nganje, forest conservation consultant and member of AFF.
The tree planting exercise was organized according to countries with each group planting at least a tree.
Other highlights at the ceremony included speeches from key partners like the ministry of environment and forest conservation, Kenya, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, ECOWAS, Swedish Embassy Ethopia, African Union Commission and management of Karura forest. This was followed by the launching of 8 teaching compendiums developped by AFF to help forest teachers, students, researchers and others better understand the complexities in forest issues.
Singing and cutting of the anniversary cake also galvanised the celebrations.
According to the management of Karura Forest, the reserve is an urban upland, one of the largest gazetted forests in the world fully within city limits. It covers an area of about 1,000 ha (2,500 ac) and today is a a shining example of how country-based corporate social responsibility and individual philanthropy can serve to secure and protect a country’s natural resources.
The forest offers eco-friendly opportunities for Kenyans and visitors to enjoy a leafy green respite from the hustle and bustle of the city to walk, to jog, or simply to sit quietly and experience the serenity of nature in all its diversity.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in partnership with the Friends of Karura Community Forest Association have since embarked on an aggressive programme to secure Nairobi’s key natural resource.
The hundreds of African Forest members visiting the venue were unanimous the forest epitomizes a touristic pearl and gives an intimate feel that makes visitors feel at home.
“Its beauty of the Karura forest gives the intimacy and feeling of being at home,” attests Almani Dampha of the Afican Unuion Commission.
With all Karura’s vast and vibrant beauty only a few kilometers from the heart of the city, it remains for Kenyans and visitors to lend their support by visiting the forest.
By Elias Ntungwe Ngalame