Deforestation in Kenya
The Kenya Forestry Working Group has estimated that Kenya will lose ca US$300 million each year by deforestation from the tourism, tea and energy sectors.
Mau Forest case in 2009
In 2009 in Kenya’s Rift Valley 400,000 hectare (ha) Mau Forest was destroyed. Between 2004 and 2006 more than 100,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes in forested areas in Kenya. In August 2009 Kenya Forestry Service issued a 14-day eviction notice on people living in the Mau Forest, which was overturned by the ex prime minister, Raila Odinga.
Forests are basis of water catchments in Kenya. Their destruction increases pressure on a population grappling with hunger and water shortage and power shortage. Forests are important for protecting ecological diversity, regulating climate patterns and acting as carbon sinks. According to Nobelist Wangari Maathai 20 per cent of global warming emissions may be due to deforestation.
Reforestation of the Mau forest will require about 96,000,000 million bamboo seedlings calculated as follows: 400,000 hectare, multiply by 2.4 to get 960,000 acres, 100 seedlings per acre. Such large scale need for bamboo seedlings can only be met by Kitil Farm in Kenya, due to its production capacity, quality of species and professionalism of its undertaking.
With regard to Return on Investment (ROI) vis-a-vis bamboo, bamboo approach to reforestation of Mau forest, is the most viable considering the Kenya environmental and social economic situation for the following reasons:
Growth and development: Bamboo stands out among woody plants in so many respects. It offers a great variety of uses and possesses excellent qualities which are not found in other plants. In terms of rate of growth, it grows faster than timber trees.
The dense clump consists of 20–100 (exceptionally up to 200) stems (culms) between 10–15m tall and up to 10 cm in diameter with 23 internode of 32 cm. It grows with a minimum annual rainfall of between 350 and 800 mm. The culms mature at an early age of 3 to 4 years, and this makes the cutting age relatively short. Bamboo nicknamed the wonder plant, is the strongest and fastest growing woody plant on earth, and supplies a global trade worth an estimated US$2 billion per year.
Bamboo is known for its quality raw material for building, making household and commercial products, fencing poles and pulp. It is a plant with nutritional value and its young bamboo shoots can be cooked and eaten as vegetable, while the foliage can be used as animal fodder. This is in the right direction in support of sustainable livelihood and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty.
Cultivation requirements: Bamboo grows in part shade to full sun (prefer¬ably full sun). It grows on all types of soils from various types of parent rock, soil 6.5 pH - 8 ph, sandy loam to clay loam, sandy soils, and tolerates very poor soils with normal moisture-retentive to moist with good drainage. Well adapted to long dry seasons and uncertain rainfall patterns. Soil fertility is not a major influence. Cultivation manual by UNIDO.
Integrates basic concepts of Agribusiness: Bamboo farming integrates economic development and environmental protection. A plantations of the bamboo can be a continuous source of bamboo charcoal briquettes for household cooking to prevent deforestation, firewood for tea factories, pulp for paper industries, hardboard, particle board and pulpwood pipes, crates, fish-traps, horticultural or garden stakes, canoe poles, arrow and spear shafts, leaves as fodder, plants for hedges, windbreaks, erosion control, as ornamental plants, wind-break, soil erosion control and rehabilitation of degraded sites, biomass production, carbon credit for major investors etc.
High volume of quality raw material for building, manufacture of wooden products like tiles and, parquet floors, tooth picks, match-sticks, incense-sticks, scaffolding, sleepers, flower/horticultural stands, industrial wood for energy e.g. in tea factories for thermal application.
This clump-forming bamboo grows with a robust rhizome of up to 10 cm in diameter conducive for fencing poles. Its shoots are edible while the voliage can be used as animal fodder. Sap from shoot tips is used for brewing alcoholic drinks ("ulanzi", 5 - 5.5% alcohol) similar in taste to beer. It can be used for bamboo-based board’s applications such as particle boards, medium density fiber board and strand boards and for pulp and paper manufacture.
A processing plant can produce a panel board of 4.8 cm x 5m and up to 300 panel boards per day. Each board will sell at $12.75 Bamboo can produce a total biomass of 19,000 kg/ha and up to 9-10 tons of bamboo charcoal per hectare per year with a minimum rainfall of 350 – 800 mm.
Medicinal value: It is also recorded to be used as medicine. Rhizomes used in treating dysentery, leaves in treating diabetes, colic and rheumatism, roots in treating skin diseases, leaf decoction in treating polyuria, oedema and albuminuria.
Environmental role: Bamboo plays a very valuable environmental role. Its complex root system, can act as a fantastic water filter, removing nutrients and dangerous poisons such as heavy metals and not allowing them to get into the food chain. Bamboo farming is a lead towards the right direction in the management of the environment and is in support of support sustainable livelihood and the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to Ensure Environmental Sustainability.
Bamboo Absorbs carbon dioxide and releases more oxygen into the atmosphere, compared to an equivalent mass of trees. Making it great for absorbing greenhouse gases, compacting desertification and global warming.
Bamboo anti bacterial property is good for investors: Bamboo contains a substance called bamboo-kun – an antimicrobial agent that gives the plant a natural resistance to pest and fungi infestation, though some pathogen problems do still exist in some bamboo plantations. This substance eliminates over two thirds (2/3) of bacteria that attempt to grow on the plant. This anti-bacterial property makes bamboo farming much economical than many agricultural based investments. Contradicting literature exists with some scholars supporting the opinion that the anti-bacterial property is retained in both its natural or fabric form. Other opinions oppose this theory.
Some bamboo species that are popularly known as arid areas species like Oxytenanthera abyssinica only get affected by Leaf rust (Kweilingia divina, synonym: Dasturella divina) which can be controlled using any broad spectrum fungicide. This species is among the 38 priority bamboos of economic importance. In Kenya this species grows very well in a wide range of geographical regions with average annual temperatures from 20 to 27°C, and monthly average daily maxima of 30 to 36°C and daily minimal of 7 to 17°C, also occurring from sea-level up to 2000m altitude, but mainly at 300–1500m.
Majority of Bamboo species need no pesticides or fertilizers. However, herbicide and fertilizer applications are common in some places to encourage edible shoot growth.
Bamboo is a renewable energy As a Renewable Resource, when bamboo is harvested, it will continue to grow new shoots from its amazing root system. There is no additional planting or cultivation. This is also good news for investors. Bamboo requires no chemicals, pesticides or fertilizer to grow and thrive. Its very own fallen leaves provide the necessary nutrients that get recycled back into the soil. Every part of the plant can be utilized in one way or another with zero waste. Kitil Farm holds training on the various subjects on bamboo as an alternative form of investment.
- Global Corruption Report 2011: Climate Change, The plunder of Kenya’s forests Resettling the settlers and holding the loggers accountable Sheila Masinde and Lisa Karanja (Transparency International Kenya) 280-282