PlantVillage Unveils Tree Care Training for ASALs Communities

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PlantVillage has embarked on training for pastoral communities in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) region of northern Kenya on the importance of tree care as a means to address the issue of climate change.


Led by Dorcas Kiprop, an agroforestry officer, PlantVillage has successfully established 12 groups spanning the counties of Baringo, Samburu, and Turkana. These groups have brought together more than 50 pastoralists, providing them with education on a method that not only transforms their landscape but also ensures a continuous supply of fodder for their livestock.


“The practice of Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) is a technique used to help local communities restore their natural environment. It involves the systematic pruning and management of remaining vegetation in agricultural, pastoral, and communal lands,” explained Kiprop.

PlantVillage Unveils Tree Care Training for ASALs Communities
Dorcas Kiprop employes a tree branch to provide support for a weak-stemmed acacia tree in Baringo County. Photo credit: Dorcas Kiprop.


Kiprop emphasizes that their foremost duty is to educate farmers about tree care, including essential tasks like weeding, mulching, and providing support to weaker trees to nurture their growth.


Nurturing Indigenous Trees

The organization places a strong emphasis on the cultivation and care of indigenous trees due to their remarkable adaptability to the local environment.


These native tree species have evolved over time to thrive in the specific conditions of the region, making them ideally suited to the unique challenges and climate of the area.


"Typically, after trees are cut, several sprouts emerge along the stump. Regrettably, these sprouts often perish due to a lack of care. We provide guidance on nurturing the sprouted shoots until they mature into trees. Furthermore, we educate them on transforming the local shrubbery through pruning, ensuring that the strongest sprout is retained and allowed to develop into a mature tree," she added.

Dorcas Kiprop supervising a recently trained group in Baringo County on FMNR practices. Photo credit: Dorcas Kiprop.


Combating Deforestation

PlantVillage has introduced this approach as a vital solution to address the urgent issue of deforestation in northern Kenya. In this region, the remaining trees, which are few and far between, face the threat of being felled and transformed into charcoal, depleting the already scarce forest cover.


"For instance, here in Turkana, the community has resorted to invading and cutting down the few remaining trees, subsequently burning them for charcoal.


“With this initiative, we aim to reverse the trend of rampant deforestation by educating and empowering local communities. By encouraging sustainable practices, such as selective harvesting and the use of branches for firewood and charcoal, we seek to mitigate the destructive impact of tree-cutting while addressing the energy needs of the communities," said Peterson Enyaman, PlantVillage’s agroforestry officer based in Turkana.

Due to lack of jobs, pastoralists have resorted to cutting trees and burning them to charcoal as a means of earning a living. This is a practice that PlantVillage is working to reverse. The photo was taken in Cheptuwkelat, Baringo County: PhotoCredit Festus Apuwatt: PlantVillage's moran in Baringo County.


Carbon Credits for Sustainability

Well-maintained indigenous trees not only serve as a source of fodder for livestock and medicinal purposes but also play a crucial role in absorbing carbon (IV) oxide from the atmosphere, thus reducing carbon levels. This initiative is one of the projects undertaken by PlantVillage as part of its carbon credit program.


However, the three field officers have encountered substantial challenges in terms of gaining community acceptance for this initiative. Many pastoralists in these areas lack sufficient knowledge about the approach.


“Given that the land here is communally owned, in certain cases, even after community education, some individuals guide their livestock toward the regrowing trees, causing damage. Some express reservations about the long-term nature of the process, while others see it as competition with crops like maize, which poses challenges to the success of their food crops,” said Lumitu Lenguris, Samburu PlantVillage’s field officer.

Lomitu Lengurusi training a group of pastoralists in Lkuroto, Samburu County, on FMNR practices. Photo credit: Lomitu Lengurusi.


The organization is now urging residents to adopt this method as it offers a source of livelihood to locals through the harvesting and sale of mature tree timber. More so, well-maintained trees enhance soil enrichment and fertility, emphasizing their significant role.




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