In our efforts to make our planet greener, it is upon the planets cohabitant to restore forests that have been depleted because of mans need for fuel, settlement land and pursuit for a source of income.
At my ancestral home in Vihiga, the Western part of Kenya, years back there once sat a beautiful forest on top of the Maragoli hills. Thick grey clouds touched the top of it’s dense trees ensuring constant rain that enriched the environment the natives living ot the foot of these rich hills. Being farmers, the rain relieved doubt of starvation because food was in plenty and the few who did rare animals had more than enough for their livestock.
Population increase led to the over exploitation of trees and clearing of vegetation to make more room for farming, settlement and a new economic activity grew out of this too, selling of firewood to and charcoal burning. This saw the rapid encroachment to the nearby forest that covered the hill. with the ground exposed and very little vegetation to hold the soil in place, erosion took place leaving the Maragoli hills bare with ugly protruding granitic rocks. In as much as a few may argue therocky hills are quite a sight we must look at the people living in this region that heavily if not entirely depended on the rains for their agricultural activities as a means to provide for their families through produce directly from their farms or by selling the produce to earn income useful for other necessary needs.
Because of the result of the above most of the population opted to move to other locations or go to major towns in search of other means of earning a living. This has contributed to congestion of urban areas with a huge number of unemployed and unskilled youth who try whatever they can to make ends meet. Some work hard making an honest living as jua kali artisans, shoe shiners, among many other odd jobs. Others who lack the skill and access to education take jobs as prostitutes, burglars, drug peddlers and even robbery as a way to earn easy money.
Maragoli hills has been left bare, dry, no longer productive and alive as it once was. Mau forest, Malaba forest, Karura and other small forests in Kenya are quickly deteriorating due to charcoal burning and clearing of land for settlement despite government efforts to stop these practices. With the availability of the internet and education centers we can now help teach locals on how to plant fast growing trees on their land for firewood as they slowly embrace solar energy and other energy sources to light, warm and cook with in their homes. Guide them on ways to conserve the little natural resources still left, restoring their land to being productive and beautiful as it once was.
Charcoal burning in Mau Forest, rock outcrops of Maragoli Hills and a section of Nairobi River in Karura Forest