Through the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes in Kenya (ISLA Kenya), IDH aims to restore and conserve 100.000 hectares of South West Mau Forest by 2030 through innovative and sustainable solutions to deforestation. To do so we address livelihoods, water, sustainable energy and holistic landscape management.

The Mau Forest Complex in western Kenya covers an area of over 400,000 ha and is ecologically and economically critical for Kenya and parts of East Africa. More than 10 million people depend on its rivers and the forest influences rainfall patterns and the region’s micro-climate creating the ideal conditions for the production of crops such as tea; continuous generation of hydro electric power as well as thriving of biodiversity.

In the recent decades, more than 25% of the forest has either been cut down or otherwise degraded. This has mostly been due to growing populations entering into the forest to settle, graze livestock and extract resources such as charcoal and timber for their livelihoods.

We have built a strong coalition made up of the county governments; tea, energy and timber sectors as well as a range of civil society representatives and research organizations.

In close collaboration with the coalition, we have now developed an integrated action plan based on three thematic building blocks:

  1. Forest conservation
  2. Improvement of water flow & access
  3. Sustainable energy

Alternative livelihoods for communities is an important cross cutting issue to be considered under each building block.

Governance Structure

Together with the relevant stakeholders, we have designed and put in place a governance model. The bodies of the governance structure consist of a Trust (to be registered), the Board, the Secretariat and three Technical Working Groups.

Governance structure SWM coalition
Co-funding structure

Within the ISLA program funds are available to co-finance joint actions. In general, the amount of ISLA co-funding needs to be matched by private and/or public parties and other donors. The total available budget of ISLA for the entire program period in the landscape of Kenya is EUR 1,850,000. -, this thus needs to be matched with contributions of at least EUR 1,850,000. – from private or public sector partners, and other donors.
For specific joint actions that apply for co-funding from ISLA, the amount of ISLA co-funding and the ratio of ISLA funding is determined on a case-by-case basis. With regard to co-funding of ongoing activities and fixed assets, there are strict criteria and requirements that must be met.

Progress to date

Awareness creation: The ISLA secretariat has done extensive stakeholder engagement through bilateral meetings, technical workshops, the launch in June 2015, newsletters and the ISLA website.

Coalition Building: A stakeholder coalition has been set with key partners forming the ISLA board. IDH supports the coalitions through a small team that currently forms the secretariat.

‘No regret actions’: In 2015, the coalition started implementation of joint actions on the ground. Key among these are quarterly surveillance flights, tree planting under ‘the adopt a forest’ scheme and the review of the management plans for community water groups.

Studies: In 2015, ISLA commissioned experts to carry out studies on key issues in the landscape. Studies done include drivers of deforestation/feasibility of fence part of the forest, baseline, dairy value chain, review of energy requirements for smallholder factories and the business case for briquettes. These studies are meant to identify issues, gaps and make recommendations for the way forward.

Development of action plan for 2016 to 2018: ISLA Kenya used information and recommendations from the studies to develop the action plan for 2016 to 2018. The action plan is summarized below.

Co-funding: Discussions with partners on co-funding started and some commitments have been secured.


Jordy van Honk

Program Director Landscapes Africa, Tea

phone+31 (0) 6 1481 1328

e-mailemail me

Winnie Mwaniki

Senior Program Manager, ISLA (Kenya) and Coordinator Tea, East Africa

phone+254 722 724 108

e-mailemail me

Manizha Korodiva

Communication Officer, ISLA

phone+31 (0) 30 230 5660

e-mailemail me

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Sectors: Tea, Tropical Timber

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