Human society and the global economy are inextricably linked to forests. More than 1 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. And forest ecosystems play a critical role in stabilizing the climate; providing food, water, wood products, and vital medicines; and supporting much of the world’s biodiversity.
Despite decreased deforestation rates in some regions, forest ecosystems are still under great threat. Changes in Earth’s forest cover impact cycles of water, energy, carbon, and other nutrients, as well as the ability of ecosystems to support biodiversity and human economies. Knowledge of these processes is critical to understand the rates, causes, and consequences of land use change and ultimately, to manage ecosystems sustainably.
Restoring lost forests and degraded lands is essential for human livelihoods and well-being, long-term food security, climate stability, and biodiversity conservation. In order to counteract land degradation and to improve livelihoods, we need to restore forests and increase the productivity of existing agricultural land at the same time. Only then can we create carbon intensive landscapes that are also diverse, productive, and resilient.
In Kenya the case has not been different and Carbon Zero Kenya has been in the front line campaigning for forest conservation by practically providing energy efficient cook stoves which have helped alleviate pressure on local forest among community members. One main forest that mainly benefited a lot form Carbon Zero initiatives has been Kereta forest (Kikuyu escarpment forest) which was on the verge of depletion but since the distribution of the energy efficient carbon zero stoves and implementation of rigorous capacity building programs the forest has resurrected. Local area Administration within the Aberdares region in conjunction with Kenya Wild Life Service (KWS) have also complimented Carbon Zero in this course. We are now keen to note that the forest has been partially afforested and deforestation is minimal.
Within the region we meet Rose Waithera one of the Carbon Zero stove beneficiaries who hails from Kongothiria Village in Kirenga location and she is happy to explain its benefits to her and the immediate environment .In her own words in Kiswahili language she says that …“Siku hizi natumia kuni kiasi tu,kupikia.Maanake,nina miti humu shambani ambayo nakata ili nipate kuni.Matawi na vigongo vidogo vidogo vinapika vizuri.Hii ilikuwa tofauti hapo zamani kwasababu nilikuwa nakata kuni kubwa msituni ili niweze kupikia jiko la mawe matatu.Sasa natumia kuni kidogo na moshi pia ni kidogo.Sasa naona tunaokoa msitu na mto umeanza kujaa maji. Najua kwamba tukiemdlea hivi maish yetu ya baadaye yatakuwa mema zaidi kwa kizazi chijacho.”
(“Nowadays I use less firewood to cook. I have planted trees in my farm where I prune small twigs and these are enough for my cooking hence sving trees which increases forest cover. In the past I used to harvest big logs of wood in the forest to suit my three stone stoves. Now I use less wood and the smoke emitted is minimal too. I can now see the forest cover is slowly returning and the water streams we have here are also increasing in volumes. I f these efforts continue then we can only say that the future is bright for future generations to come.”)
Compiled by; Martin Munene, Virginia Njeri and Moses Maina