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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!