The Principal Secretary of the State Department of Forestry, under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Mr. Gitonga Mugambi, held a visit to Laikipia County to assess the progress of The Restoration Initiative(TRI) Project.
Accompanying him were Mr. Peterson Kamau, the Head of Projects and Strategic Initiatives, the Deputy Governor of Laikipia County, Mr. Meshaack Muga, who serves as the FAO National Project Coordinator (GEF 6), and representatives from FAO, KEFRI, KFS and various local leaders.
The overarching goal of this project is to rehabilitate degraded lands through the Forest and Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach. The project also seeks to enhance the socio-economic development of local communities by leveraging Non-Timber Forest Products and Services(NTFPS) in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs).
Notably, the PS visited Maiyanat site where Laikipia Wildlife Forum is working towards restoration of 82 Ha of land through the mechanical removal of the invasive species Opuntia stricta, and the demo plot where multiple rangeland restoration practices including the semi-circular bunds and Vallerani system are being implemented to bring back the health of the ecosystem.
Upon completion of the two site visits, the Principal Secretary flew over Mukogondo forest which covers an approximate area of 30,189 hectares. This forest serves as a vital catchment area for several rivers, such as Sieku and Kopio. Moreover, it holds great significance for the adjacent communities due to its rich biodiversity and promising potential for eco-tourism. The forest functions as a migratory corridor route between the Northern Rangelands and Laikipia, spanning from Borana and Lewa Conservancies through Ngare Ndare forest.
The site visits later ended with a local community baraza to discuss conservation agendas held at Kiwanja Ndege Primary School. In his remarks, the PS expressed his appreciation to the community for their conservation and restoration efforts of Mukogondo forest.
On the second day, he visited Laikipia Permaculture Centre to familiarize himself with the economic utilization of the invasive plant Opuntia stricta, which is being utilized to produce juice, wines, and oils.
He later paid a courtesy call to the Governor, His Excellency Joshua Irungu, where they engaged in a debrief session to further strengthen the collaborative efforts aimed at conservation and sustainable development in Laikipia County.