IDH launches the Stawisha Mau Charitable Trust to protect the Mau forest in Kenya

Through its landscape program (ISLA Kenya), IDH is launching a trust this Friday that will help to jointly restore and conserve 60,000 hectares of the South West Mau Forest by 2030.

The trust, Stawisha Mau Charitable Trust, is a public-private partnership of more than sixteen stakeholders from private sector, county governments, national government agencies, community groups and NGOs. These include Kenya Forest Service, KTDA, Unilever, Finlays, as well as county governments of Kericho, Nakuru and Bomet.

The trust will coordinate conservation and livelihood improvement activities, aligning high-level policy dialogues with practical sustainability solutions on the ground. It will also set up an endowment fund that will ensure that the program is sustained in the long term.

“This trust is a legal entity created by the members of the ISLA Kenya Partnership and it is our firm belief that this body will help us rehabilitate, protect and conserve this forest. This is in the interest of all tea growers, big and small. The forest influences the region’s micro-climate such as rainfall patterns, creating ideal conditions for the production of tea and other crops. It will require our full support and goodwill from all stakeholders to ensure that we achieve this,” said Lerionka Tiampati, a trustee and the CEO of KTDA.

The focus of the program on conserving and restoring the degraded forest relies on active collaboration with communities to achieve long-term protection of the forest and its resources.

“We cannot achieve any of our goals without actively involving and partnering with the communities that live around the forest. This will allow both the forest to restore, and offer viable alternatives for the community and others that depend on the forest’s resources for their livelihood. I thank all stakeholders for their continued support to the trust.” said Jordy van Honk, IDH’s Program Director for African Landscapes.

“KFS is part of the ISLA partnership where we work closely together to find the best solutions for conserving the South West Mau and improve livelihoods of surrounding communities. The launch of the trust sends a very positive sign that our collective work will continue into the future.” said Mr Emilio Mugo, KFS Chief Conservator of Forests.

Since 2015, ISLA Kenya, which will now be governed by the trust, has brought together the industry, government and community, to collaborate on conserving the South West Mau forest. The partners regularly collaborate with the local people to plant trees in degraded areas.

This program came about as a response to deforestation and degradation the Mau experienced in the last two decades, which threatens one of the crucial water towers in Kenya.