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Long-term Solutions: Managing Invasive Species in Laikipia North

 

Mr. John Letai, the Deputy Director for Environment and Natural Resources, Laikipia Count,y shares his views with stakeholders during an invasive species field monitoring visit.

The County Government of Laikipia and stakeholders continue to work on mitigation measures to curb the spread of the Opuntia Stricta and the Acacia Reficiens. They firmly believe that the development of an Invasive species management plan is the best action to take us forward in our efforts.

The exponential spread of these invasive species has for years now led to negative ecological, and socio-economic impacts in the region. Laikipia County has been on the forefront on engaging different stakeholders working on projects related to invasive species management. The County through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources leads a stakeholder forum which meets on quarterly basis for monitoring of different projects under implementation. The stakeholder forum is comprised of the following members Stakeholders from the local communities in 13 Group Ranches across Laikipia North, Laikipia County Government (LCG), Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF), Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), World Vision International – Kenya (WV), ILMAMUSI Mukogodo Forest AssociationNaibung’ a ConservanciesNational Environment Management Authority – Laikipia County (NEMA), Loisaba ConservancyUaso Nyiro Baboon Project (UNBP) and Loldaiga Ranch have all been working to try and come up with management/control/eradication measures of Opuntia stricta through either mechanical removal or biological control, involved in sensitization of local communities on the effects of Opuntia, and mapping of the extent of the Invasive species.

Recently the stakeholder forum held a 2-day workshop sponsored by IMARA project which involved a field visit to the different sites undertaking biological and mechanical control and a brainstorming workshop to develop strategies on how to mobilize for additional funds towards invasive species management efforts. During the field visit at Ilpolei site in which Enduata group member, Magdalene Silam shared her views towards the management efforts being conducted …..“Opuntia has for a long time been a constant headache to me and my family. This species has led to the loss of most of our grazing land which consequently led to the death of most of our livestock. I am very happy with the current partnerships and I continue to see results from both mechanical and biological control methods. It would be nice to see if these methods can be integrated for best results,”.

The development of a County Invasive Species Management Plan and budget was agreed as one of the key strategies to be developed towards invasive species management efforts. During the discussions held on the 21st and 22nd of September 2020. The meeting revolved around 2 main areas: the cost of mechanical removal of opuntia and the sustainability of the opuntia management projects. There was a specific focus on.

  1. How to prevent the spread of Opuntia in areas where it already exists.
  2. How to prevent the spread of opuntia in uninfected areas
  3. Management of areas which have Opuntia
  4. Land restoration after the management efforts are complete.

The meeting concluded that a management plan for Opuntia stricta and other invasive species in Laikipia North be developed. It was also decided that capacity-building efforts towards ownership of the management efforts ongoing to be built in current and future projects.

The County Government continues to work on developing a County Environmental Action Plan (CEAP) and it was agreed that invasive species should be included as a major component with immediate priorities identified in the plan for budgeting and action.

Laikipia County is working towards the development of a county invasive species policy. The Forum is in the process of producing a documentary that will provide information on the efforts made in managing the invasive species. The documentary will as well be used as a tool to provide useful information during the policy development process and act as a fundraising tool for invasive species management.

A technical committee was formed to spearhead the proposed action plans. The committee is comprised of a membership derived from the thematic areas of focus in relation to the management of the invasive species.

Roles:

  1. Lead in the development of draft management plan
  2. Budgeting process, including fundraising
  3. First meeting to be decided by NEMA with close collaboration with World Vision-IMARA Project

The committee is as listed below;

No Organization Contact
1 National Environment Management Authorirty (Lead) cdelaikipia@gmail.com
2 Northern Rangeland Trust Richard.kasoo@nrt-kenya.org
3 World Vision Simon_mbuki@wvi.org
4 Kenya Forest Research Institute schoge@kefri.org
5 Ilmamusi CFA Ilmamusi.cfa@gmail.com
6 Laikipia Forum Margaret.wambua@laikipia.org
7 TWALA rosemarynenini@gmail.com
8 Laikipia County Government jletai7@gmail.com
9 Kenya Wildlife Service luke.lukaria@gmail.com
10 Permaculture info@lpct.or.ke
11 Lolldaiga harrybmwells@gmail.com
12 Naibunga Naibungaupper@nrt-kenya.org
13 Uaso Ngiro Baboon Project dr.shirleycstrum@gmail.com

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Big First Step for Mineral Exploitation in Laikipia County

Chief Administrative Secretary for Industrialization and Trade Lawrence Karanja (left), Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi (center) hold a enhanced copy of Laikipia Mining Report

In a bold and pioneering move, the Government of Laikipia shared the results of a preliminary minerals survey conducted in Laikipia over the last months.

Many of the mineral deposits are known from the basement rock formations of northern Laikipia, (Sosian, Mukogodo East, West, and parts of Segera Wards), an area predominantly owned by Maasai group ranches. 15 minerals were cited in the Conference and preliminary report and are shown below.

The results of this preliminary mineral survey were shared with the public at a Conference on Mining, held in Nanyuki on February 20, 2020.

This conference is a major commitment to the principles of good governance and public engagement, as no exploitation or exploration permits have been granted since this prospecting.

Free, prior, informed consent (FPIC) by Laikipia County is a first in Kenya, coming on the heels of uninformed preliminary mineral extractions in the Kwale Titanium Sands and Turkana Oil Fields.

All subsurface mineral rights in Kenya belong to the State (the public). That’s why FPIC is so important to landowners.

12 of the 13 groups ranches are without community land titles in Laikipia; these must be secured as a priority in order to guard against illegal exploitation of resources under their lands.

Now, it must be determined if these are commercially viable deposits of minerals, and we must reconcile their extraction against other land use priorities – tourism, wildlife, agriculture, rangelands, etc.

The long-outstanding Laikipia County Spatial Plan will help us with this determination, and we urge public engagement and its completion before rushing to mineral exploitation. The County Assembly must also stand ready to receive and vote on legislation that supports FPIC.

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Prescribed Burns – What They Might Mean for Laikipia

For years, the Mpala Research Center has hosted a long-term study on rangelands ecology, and the interface between soils, grasses and their consumption by both wildlife and livestock. The KLEE Project (Kenya Long-term Exclosure Experiment) is located on Mpala Ranch.

 

The work occurs mostly on “black cotton soil” dominated by the tree Acacia drepanolobium (Whistling Thorn) and a grassy understory community of more than 100 plant species. The experiment tests different land uses (wildlife conservancy, wildlife-tolerant ranching, wildlife-intolerant ranching) to see what the effects of these different land uses mean for the environment and how these are changing over time, land use, and in the face of climate change.

Want to learn more? Check out KLEE and Dr. Truman Young at https://tpyoung.ucdavis.edu/klee

One of the treatments in this experiment has been the use of fire. As this year will yield an abundance of grass growth, we will be confronted by the possibility of fire – both as a threat, and a tool for management of our rangelands.

Here is a link to an on-line course that consolidates a lot of the experience and literature on prescribed burns. You can learn at your own pace, but unfortunately, the course cost is USD $200.

https://agrilife.org/westtexasrangelands/2020/01/28/prescribed-burn-school-going-digital/

 

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Mukugodo Forest 2019 Update

We have good news to report. Because of the assistance of its major partners – Borana, Lewa, NRT and the Forum, and with financial support of the FAO, the ILMAMUSI CFA is on course to be stronger than ever.

Mukogodo Forest is the last great forest of the greater Laikipia landscape. It’s important for three major reasons: it’s a dry-season grazing reserve for our Lakipia Maasai; it’s an important biodiversity center and carbon sink; and it’s a national forest reserve and water tower.

The Forum is working with the Board of the CFA to draft a new constitution and to overhaul the Board leadership. The new constitution and board will be reviewed, approved and elected by the 4 members of the CFA – Il Ngwesi, Makurian, Mukogodo, and Sieku group ranches – hence the acronym ILMAMUSI.

All four group ranches are now registered as conservancies and are in the process of obtaining new community land titles to replace their group ranch status.

NRT will lead activities in 2020 to overhaul the old forest management plan. The new plan will guide zoning and investments in the Forest. In addition, NRT will help build capacity of the two new conservancies – Kurikuri and Makurian.

A new CFA manager will take up the role in January of 2020, and will be based at the Laragai/Borana north gate – next to the police post. The CFA office will be the official port of call for entry into the Forest reserve for visitors, researchers and tourist.

A 2000 KSH fee/day will be required to enter the forest. Supporting partners Lewa, Borana, NRT and the Forum have all contributed to its establishment and improvements.

Stay tuned for update on Friends of Mukogodo, and how you can add your voice and support to this critical part of Laikipia!

This process is being supported by FAO through the GEF-6 Restoration of Arid and Semi-arid Lands of Kenya through Bio-enterprise Development and Other Incentives

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