This project specifically seeks to rehabilitate the degraded Illoro forest block within Kakamega Tropical rainforest by replanting African wild tree species and engaging local communities in their efforts to restore and protect the forest. The project’s location is the Illoro Forest Block of Kakamega Tropical Rainforest in Kakamega County, Kenya – approximately 380 km northwest of Nairobi. Kakamega Forest is Kenya’s only remnant of tropical rainforest. The Forest is known to be the easternmost fragment of the Guineo-Congolian lowland rainforest belt, which once stretched from Kenya across Uganda, East and Central Africa to the West African coast.
The project will result in enhanced ecological integrity of Africa’s tropical rainforest, improved climate resilience, socio-economic development and harmonious relationships between local communities and their forested landscapes.
The area is classified as a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA), a ‘water tower’ catchment area, whose rivers feed into Lake Victoria UNESCO World heritage site and the source of the Nile River Basin – a transboundary resource of international significance shared by 10 countries.
Kakamega forest is also an Important Bird Area (IBA). 367 bird species have been recorded in the forest such as the West African Great blue turaco and black-and-white-casqued hornbill. At least 9 birds are not found anywhere else. It is home to the endangered African grey parrots. Other endangered species include the Kaimosi blind snake, De Brazza’s monkey, Black and White Colobus monkey, Red-tailed monkey and Gaboon viper. Between 10 to 20% of the animal species in the forest are nationally unique.
Forty key species of medicinal plants used by local people have been identified and recorded. Some of the medicinal trees include Mondia whitei which is locally known as Mukombero, and Olea capensis known as Elgon teak. About seventy percent of the medicinal plants grow inside the forest while thirty percent around the edge and the immediate surroundings of the forest. There are 380 recorded species of plants. This includes 150 species of trees and shrubs, 60 species of ferns, and 170 species of flowering plants including 60 species of orchids with 9 species found only in this forest.
This project will:
- Plant a total of 100,000 native and threatened trees
- Restore 100 Hectares of critically-degraded and biodiversity rich habitats in Kakamega Tropical rainforest
- Sustainably diversify and strengthen livelihoods within forest buffers for 600 households through tree planting activities and the promotion of alternative and profitable uses of the forest
- Produce indigenous and threatened tree seedlings in community-managed nurseries selected close to the identified planting sites
- Enable Local Community Forest Associations (CFAs) to take leadership in forest management and protection
- Hold advocacy workshops to rally public participation in forest and riparian protection
Latest project update
ITF is working with Women in Water and Natural Resource Conservation (WWANC) to equip local community members with the skills and resources needed to restore and protect Kakamega Forest.
Partnering up with WWANC has been instrumental in encouraging the involvement of women in the project as one of their core activities is women leadership and girl-child mentorship.
For this project, women are the main project beneficiaries, and they carry out essential activities through their roles as project scouts and tree nursery attendants, while others worked on hole digging, tree planting and after care.
As part of this project, women are also establishing their own tree nurseries to diversify their income sources. Just 6 months into this project, women are reporting that they can now put food on the table, and are being respected by their husbands.