News from LT&C Example: Friends of Karura Community Forest Association
By Harvey Croze
The Friends of Karura Community Forest Association (FKF) held its 13th AGM last September in Nairobi. The members present – physically and virtually – unanimously confirmed their commitment to keeping Karura Forest safe and fully protected as one of the world’s most important urban forests within a capital city’s limits.
Numerous achievements were tabled by the FKF Board Chair, Dr. Winnie Kiiru, including an increase in indigenous tree cover in the 1,000-ha forest from 25% to over 50% through the strategic replacement of degraded exotic plantation areas.
Dr. Kiiru highlighted the striking recovery of biodiversity: some 230 bird species, including a top predator, the African crowned eagle, three species of antelopes, the elusive side-striped jackal, and a thriving population of a threatened-then-relocated subspecies of black-and-white guereza colobus monkey. In addition, several rare endemic trees were discovered.
Other achievements included:
– An increase in monthly visits to the forest during the Covid-19 pandemic to nearly 60,000, with 80% of visits by Kenyan citizens
– The employment of over 100 persons from local communities to work as forest scouts, tree carers, and infrastructure personnel
– The impressive social media influence of FKF, with over 26,000 likes, 27,000 followers, and an occasional reach of nearly 1/4 million.
Many community forest associations in Kenya are hoping to emulate this participatory model of public-government forest management with the parastatal Kenya Forest Service. After more than a decade of “trial”, Karura Forest demonstrates the model works and that the LT&C Example can be replicated in other areas.
Tranquillity in the heart of the city
Ranked number three of 118 things to do in Nairobi, Karura Forest has received a TripAdvisor “Travellers’ Choice” award for nine years in a row.
The urban forest offers walks, bike trails, and ecotours with trained guides so visitors can learn more about the flora and fauna, history and culture, ecology and geology, and bird watching and primate tracking.
Known as “The People’s Forest”, Karura Forest is “a place of tranquillity for all Kenyans.”