Kenya’s ambitious goal to restore and conserve 10.6 million hectares of degraded landscapes and ecosystems with the target of planting and nurturing 15 billion trees by 2032 received a boost as conservation stakeholders from across the country convened to collaboratively support and drive the government-led agenda.
Addressing the stakeholders in Nairobi at the Kenya Landscapes Restoration Forum Eng. Festus Ng’eno, Principal Secretary, State Department for Environment and Climate Change, said: “Landscape and ecosystem restoration cannot take a silo approach. All ecosystems are interconnected, and interventions must speak to each other. Let us interrogate the strategies, look at commonalities, where synergies can be shared, and what walls we can collapse. Let us put aside sectoral interests and see whose comparative advantage we can maximize where, who yields at what point.”
During the two-day forum dubbed, The Kenya Landscape Restoration Forum – Opportunities and Challenges, representatives from various Government ministries, community, development partners and civil society actors shared successful models of landscape restoration and financing mechanisms from Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Costa Rica.
The National Government seeks to achieve 30 per cent forest cover to enhance biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability, sustainable livelihoods, climate resilience and social-economic development.
In her opening remarks, Silvia Museiya – Principal Secretary, State Department for Wildlife said, “we need to reset and rethink how we conserve our natural resources. When we talk about landscape restoration, I look forward to us agreeing on the ecosystems that need restoration and who will do them to avoid duplication and wastage of resources.”
The forum was organized by the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, World Bank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) under the Alliance for Restoration of Forest Landscapes and Ecosystems in Africa (AREECA) and Local partners Tsavo Foundation and the Conservation Alliance of Kenya (CAK) to bring all stakeholders together to share insights, challenges and lessons learned to support the construction of a comprehensive and effective Kenyan National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Strategy.
WWF, which co-convened the forum, shared insights on large-scale restoration based on experiences implementing landscape restoration with local communities in Amboseli-Tsavo sub-landscapes.
Dr. Martin Mulama – Manager, Southern Kenya Programme, WWF-Kenya pointed out that “at the center of the ambitious 15 Billion Trees initiative are communities- the first-line custodians of our landscapes and ecosystems. They should be included, engaged, and involved in the implementation and benefit from the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration. Large-scale restoration approaches in Amboseli have provided the best models for replication across the country. These interventions have led to the successful restoration of expansive landscapes, including rangelands and farmlands, and contributed to increased involvement of local communities and improvement of livelihoods.”
On his part, Johannes Kirchgatter – Officer Africa Projects, WWF-Germany, said: “This is a unique chance for a truly participatory planning process to jointly restore the fantastic ecosystems of Kenya in a holistic way. Addressing not only the precious water towers but also often neglected ecosystems such as savannahs, rangelands and wetlands is crucial to secure livelihoods, ecosystem functions like water flow and the unique wildlife of Kenya.”
The Landscape Restoration Forum took place on the sidelines of the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) taking place at the United Nations Complex in Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya, where leading global scientists, activists, indigenous leaders, financiers, policymakers, the private sector, and practitioners in landscape restoration also shared insights on global landscape restoration challenges in response to extreme weather conditions and unprecedented changes in global climate conditions.