By Monicah Mwangi
Being the only indigenous forest in the environs of a city, Ng’ong forest has for a long period been endangered due to the illegal logging which has been going on.
The threat has however gone down since the government went into an agreement with the Ng’ong Forest Sanctuary to guard part of the forest. The Sanctuary which was established in 1993 has been in the forefront in performing its duties of conserving the forest.
The Sanctuary which is estimated as 588.18 hectares is covered by 80% of indigenous forest while 20% is plantation, mostly eucalyptus (Blue gum) species.
“Biodiversity inventories have so far realized over 316 species of vegetation, over 200 species of birds and over 50 species of reptiles and amphibians within the Sanctuary,” said Simon Ng’ang’a, the project co-coordinator of the Sanctuary.
The Sanctuary which boarders Kibera slums on one side has introduced income generating activities within the forest to try curbing the poverty levels in the area. “We have introduced activities like Tree nursery groups where members from the local community have come together and prepare nursery beds for trees which they later sell to corporates who approach us for afforestation,” Ng’ang’a said.
The strongest group has however turned out to be the bee keeping project which has seen more than 200 hives installed within the Sanctuary. According to Ng’ang’a, the Sanctuary recognizes the importance of ensuring that projects are relevant to adjacent communities. “The Trust seeks to play a role in poverty alleviation by establishing projects that are beneficial to the communities but at the same time environmental friendly,” Ng’ang’a reiterated.
The bee keeping enterprise which is funded by UNDP’s Small Grants Programme has seen women from Kibera, Ngando and Mutoini slums (all bordering the forest) come together for a common goal.
Veronicah Kanini, one of the women taking part in the project says she nowadays gets a living from bee farming in the forest. “I have one hive and it gives me good money during harvest, we appreciate the Sanctuary’s good will to trust us and let us into the forest,” Veronicah said.
The women who came together 4 years ago were trained by Honey Care Africa on bee keeping and the company occasionally sends personnel to watch over the project.
“Honey Care have been very supportive to the project; they come to offer advise to the women at no charges at least once a month,” Ng’ang’a said.
The product has a ready market as Honey Care purchases all what they harvest, “We agree on when to harvest and Honey Care comes to fetch the product from the ground,” said Jane Njeri, a hive owner.
Ng’ang’a said the Sanctuary is working closely with the people in awareness campaigns to inculcate the culture of sustainable use of natural resources. “We are currently thinking of starting a project of generating alternative oil and energy and hopefully it will be on before the end of this years,” Ng’ang’a concluded.
According to Ng’ang’a, tree porching has gone down especially after they erected a 20.6 kilometer solar-powered electric fence round the perimeter of the Sanctuary.