Over 2,500 indigenous tree seedlings were planted at Mukogodo forest in Laikipia County, in an effort to conserve and protect the indigenous ecosystem that is the home of thousands of pastoral communities and wildlife within the greater Laikipia region during the Inaugural Walk Wild event. The 10 kilometer walk brought together over 300 people from various walks of life within the country and beyond as well Mukogodo Forest community members.
The over 30,000 hectares forest that is estimated at a total value of Sh9.1 billion, provides a whole range of services that anchor the local livelihoods and the wider economy, which is driven by honey production, livestock keeping, ecotourism, conservation, and sand collection. The Forest lies along the border of Samburu and Isiolo counties and Laikipia is the mainstay of pastoralist communities in the three counties, but has lately been under threat owing to overgrazing occasioned by the prevailing dry weather situation in the area.
The initiative that was largely supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization through the Restoration Initiative project was organized and executed by ILMAMUSI Mukogodo Community Forest Association with support from its partners; Kenya Forest Service, Laikipia Wildlife Forum, the Laikipia Conservancies Association (LCA), Borana Conservancies, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, the Northern Rangeland Trust and the County Government of Laikipia.
The Food and Agriculture Organization representative at the event Mr. Elijah Mboko, firmly called upon everyone to take initiative in conserving and protecting the ecosystem at all cost. He reiterated that we all depend on a healthy ecosystem for survival and therefore had no option but to be at the fore front in ensuring this is achieved. He as well encouraged both residents of Mukogodo Forest and nonresidents to not only plant trees during ceremonies but to take initiative in doing the same even at household level and within homesteads as well.
Speaking at the event, Mukogodo Community Forest Association (CFA) chairman Wilfred Mejoli said that the walk was meant to bring together stakeholders to sensitize them on the importance of a fragile dry land forest and what it means to communities that live around it. He noted that we must all take initiative in taking care of our ecosystems and as such find ways and mechanisms of giving back to nature. He as well acknowledged and appreciated all stakeholders that made the day a reality and congratulated all those who made it all through the Walk.
LCA manager, Mr. Peter Matunge, appealed to stakeholders in the environmental sector and residents of Laikipia to embrace a collaborative approach towards land restoration and environmental protection to ensure that we create a condusive environment for future generations. His sentiments were echoed by the county leadership as well as the various government agencies that also graced the event.
In culmination of the event, ILMAMUSI Mukogodo CFA manager, Lestan Kimiri took the opportunity to launch Friends of Mukogodo. The Friends of Mukogodo is an initiative established to help the Forest’s community based organization take care of their natural heritage. Support through FOM will help the Community Forest Association (CFA) with ranger equipment, communication, wildlife monitoring, security, tourism management/services, and the control over the use of resources.
Being a first, the Walk Wild event turned out really great and many thanks to all the participants who registered and took part in this great initiative geared towards restoring and protecting Mukogodo Forest. Appreciation also goes to all the stakeholders and the task force that worked tirelessly to make the event a success. We look forward to the next second edition.