IDH Collaborates with Partners to Protect the Mau Forest in Kenya

Through the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes, IDH aims to restore and conserve 60,000 hectares of  forest where 20, 000 of these have been significantly degraded.

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. The significance of the Southwest Mau is paramount for the sustained viability of agriculture in the region. It plays a dual role, not only in climate regulation but also in providing essential biodiversity. Agricultural practices heavily rely on rainfed methods, with no irrigation in place. Hence, the forest is a crucial component, contributing significantly to the agricultural sector.

In recent years, the adverse effects of climate change have become increasingly apparent: more than 25% of the forest has either been cut down or degraded, putting tea production, other sectors and community livelihoods at risk. Furthermore, there has been a noticeable surge in hailstorms, adversely affecting crops and presumably impacting nearby farmers. This is caused by growing populations, unsustainable livestock grazing, charcoal burning and timber extraction from the forest. Recognizing these challenges, it becomes imperative to prioritize the protection and restoration of the Mau forest to safeguard our environment and agricultural livelihoods.

IDH, together with its partners (Ekaterra, James Finlays Kenya, Kenya Tea Development Authority(KTDA) Kenya Forest Service and others), started working towards holistic landscape management and forest conservation, water, sustainable energy and community livelihoods.

The Southwest Mau is 60 000 HA in total, 20 000 of these had been greatly degraded due to encroachment. Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes is a partnership platform established by IDH, bringing together partners around the Southwestern Mau, both from the public and private sectors.  Our objective is to restore and protect the Southwestern Mau Forest, which is important for businesses around the landscape.

Beatah Nzove – Senior Program Manager (ISLA Program)

IDH and partners jointly developed and financed several projects towards restoring the landscape, including:

  • Reforestation programs to restore the degraded parts of the forest.
  • Livelihood programs, supporting livestock farmers to productively graze their animals at home instead of grazing in the forest.
  • Income-generating activities such as beekeeping
  • A community awareness initiative to train communities on effective ways to protect their forests.

Being together, the scale is more significant and accordingly, the impact is so much more significant. So what we’re seeing now is a partial restoration of the Mau forest

Sylvia Ten Den – Head of Africa Plantations (Ekaterra)

Through the ISLA programme, farmers like Sammy can graze away from forests and are trained on best practices to increase their livestock’s’ production. This shift proved transformative; his milk production soared to a remarkable 14 to 15 litres compared to a mere 4 Liters before receiving the training.

Watch this video to discover the initiatives we are actively engaged in within Kenya: