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          Keeping her Memory Alive... Zeitz Foundation's Tree Planting Mission!

          Thanks to generous support from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Kenya, the Zeitz Foundation is well on the way to planting 71,000 trees on Segera and in neighbouring community areas of Laikipia in memory of the late Professor Wangari Maathai: one thousand trees for each year of her life. 

          Decades of over-grazing on Segera Ranch and destruction of trees for charcoal production, and clearance for agricultural purposes in areas around Segera have resulted in severe deforestation and degradation of the Segera eco-system. Reafforestation - tree planting - contributes to reversing the resulting environmental damage, restoring biodiversity and improving livelihoods.  No one recognised and promoted this more than the late Wangari Maathai. In an effort to honour her memory, whilst restoring our environment, the Zeitz Foundation, with support from our Chinese friends, is establishing the Wangari Maathai Memorial Forest.  Thus the spirit of Wangari Maathai will never be forgotten, but live on in the indigenous trees planted in her memory.

          Our approach to reafforestation encompasses more than simply planting trees on Segera Ranch itself though.  Whilst we have established our own small tree nursery at the ZF HQ on Segera and to date planted approximately 4,000 seedlings in our immediate vicinity – many by visitors to the Zeitz Foundation - we are also actively involving thousands of people throughout Laikipia. 

          Over 20 of the football teams competing in the Laikipia Unity League have chosen to establish tree nurseries as their 4C’s project. Each of the 100 teams involved in the League has its own 4C’s project and their progress through the League ranks is dependent on the success of this project. Approximately 36,000 indigenous tree seeds have been distributed to these 20 teams to enable them to establish their nurseries. Basic training on tree planting and care has been provided to all team members and with an anticipated survival rate of one-third of seeds planted, approximately 12,000 seedlings will be available for planting out by early 2014. Once these seedlings are ready for planting, the Zeitz Foundation will purchase them for planting on Segera Ranch and its surrounds. 

          The Environmental Education Clubs that we support in four neighbouring schools have all established their own tree nurseries and between them have planted and are looking after thousands more seedlings.  

          Between the school clubs and football teams we anticipate that by the end of 2014 we will have reached our goal of planting and having in place the institutions to maintain the healthy growth of 71,000 trees. This approach ensures that commercial micro-enterprises are established based on tree production throughout Laikipia, enhancing the livelihoods of those involved and creating awareness of the commercial and environmental value of trees.  The overall impact will be not just the reafforestation of Segera and neighbouring area and accessibility of indigenous tree seedlings throughout Laikipia, but the training and preparation of a generation of environmental stewards for Laikipia. 

          If you would like to promote reafforestation and environmental stewardship in Laikipia, contact Martin at martin.muiruri@zeitzfoundation.org to find out where you can purchase seedlings at a location near you. Seeds have been sourced from Kenyan Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and include: Acacia Senegal, Acacia Xanthophloea, Croton Megalocarpus. Calpunera Aurea, Dodonea Angustifolia and Olea Africana.

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