Applying scientific evidence, local knowledge and participatory approaches to conserve biodiversity in Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park.

Working with communities and resource managers to manage deforestation, encroachment, wildfires and establish alternative livelihoods

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Eligibility Criteria

  • I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge and that I am eligible to apply.
  • I am 18 years old or older.

Initiative's representative name

Dr. Kevin Wafula Nyongesa

Initiative's representative date of birth

23/03/1981

Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Kenya

Headquarters location: city

Chogoria, P.O Box 133-60401 Chogoria, Kenya.

Where are you making a difference?

Mount Kenya Forest and National Park, located in Central Kenya, a UNESCO world heritage site, an important water catchment area that provides water to 19 million people, it has rich biodiversity.

Website or social media url(s)

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/mtkenyaforestcatchmentconservationgroup/

Date Started

From 09/2015 to date

Project Stage

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

Yearly Budget : What is your current yearly budget for the initiative?

  • €1k - €10k

Organization Type

  • Hybrid

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

Managing deforestation, encroachment, wildfires, establishing alternative livelihoods and conserving biodiversity in Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park is multi- and interdisciplinary in nature. Therefore, the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Austria (BOKU), Egerton University (EU) and Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and communities formed the Mt. Kenya Forest Catchment Conservation Group (MKFCCG). The partners saw the potential of applying scientific evidence, local knowledge and participatory approaches to manage deforestation, encroachment, wildfires, establish alternative livelihoods and conserve biodiversity in Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park.

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

The fast growing human population has led to increased deforestation, encroachment and wildfires in Mt. Kenya forest and National Park in the last decade. The growing demand for water, firewood, honey, charcoal, timber, poles, livestock pasture, land to cultivate crops, income from tourism, wild fruits, game meat, fish and herbal medicine has increased threats to trees, plants and wildlife species in the ecosystem. We need to act and conserve biodiversity in Mt. Kenya forest and National Park.

3. Your solution: How are you working to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

A) REDUCING DEFORESTATION AND ENCROACHMENT: MKFCCG has been (i) Supporting KFS and KWS rangers to: conduct more patrols; confiscate chainsaws, illegal timber and charcoal; stop land encroachment; and arrest and prosecute culprits (ii) Supporting community agro-forestry for fruits, timber, poles, firewood and fodder (iii) Planted seedlings of indigenous trees in deforested and degraded areas B) IMPROVING WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT: MKFCCG has been (i) Developing, printing, interpreting and disseminating information on wildfire management using brochures; policy briefs; fire danger maps; seasonal fire calendars; and fire occurrence graphs (iii) It has conducted meetings and workshops to train and equip KFS, KWS rangers and community firefighters C) ESTABLISHING ALTERNATIVE LIVELIHOODS FOR COMMUNITIES: MKFCCG has been (i) Training and supporting communities to make and use improved cooking stoves, biogas and briquettes (ii) Training and equipping communities to do beekeeping for biodiversity, honey and wax (iii) Training and supporting communities to grow bamboo and make bamboo products (iv) Creating employment opportunities for community members involved in MKFCCG conservation activities.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

MKFCCG involves all members of the society irrespective of their race, age, education or gender in Participatory Forest Management to conserve biodiversity and generate income by selling its alternative livelihoods products. MKFCCG works with local, national and international stakeholders to conserve biodiversity. MKFCCG trains KFS, KWS staff and community members on how to: 1. Use satellites to monitor deforestation, encroachment & wildfires; 2. Use modern firefighting equipment; 3. Make and use improved cooking stoves, biogas & briquettes; 4. Make modern beehives & beekeeping; 5. Grow & make bamboo products. We use social media to create awareness on the need conserve biodiversity and also to advertise our alternative livelihood products.

5. Collaboration: How does your initiative seek to bring key players together to preserve biodiversity?

The MKFCCG collaborates with other organizations to promote excellence in education, research, development and biodiversity conservation. MKFCCG helps the partners EU, BOKU and KEFRI to collaborate with KFS, KWS and communities to apply scientific and local knowledge so that we can jointly manage degradation, deforestation, encroachment, wildfires and establish alternative livelihoods that reduce dependency on Mt. Kenya forest and National Park. MKFCCG collaborates with policy makers, communities, stakeholders, organizations, institutions, KFS, KWS and wood enterprises regardless of their size or approach so that together we can address the conservation, protection and restoration of biodiversity in Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park. MKFCCG also partners with schools and other biodiversity conservation groups in Kenya to share success stories and learn from each other and with each other.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far — in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

MKFCCG has over 100 retail shops that are now selling our alternative livelihood products. We have been using a radio station to raise awareness on the need to conserve biodiversity and to advertise our eco-friendly products and we have increased our sells. We have presented in 40 National Agricultural Shows that have provided us with access to new markets. The demand for bio-gas tanks increased from 40 in 2018 to 90 in 2019 because more farmers, schools and hotels are becoming our customers. MKFCCG has trained and supported: (1) 1700 community members to make and use improved cooking stoves, bio-gas and briquettes. (2) 400 community members to make and sell bamboo products. (3) 300 community members to make beehives and do beekeeping for biodiversity, honey and wax for income. Our beehives produce up to 23 kg of honey and 4 kg of beeswax and from 180 hives we get 4140 kg of honey and 720 kg of beeswax that generates revenue enabling us to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

MKFCCG has inbuilt designs for long-term continuity and up-scaling of its impacts and growth by 2025: We plan to:- Improve and diversify our supply of cooking stoves, bio-gas, briquettes, bamboo products and beehives to increase the number of clients and create a bond beyond the commercial aspect. - Strengthen our team, KFS, KWS and communities skills through specialised training in forest biodiversity conservation. - Enhance our financial capacity by improving our funding management, both internal and external. We plan to expand our scope and replicate our activities in more communities, develop new and innovative products that improve livelihoods and at the same time help to conserve biodiversity in forests and national parks in Kenya.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for society? Or different stakeholders?

MKFCCG creates impact in the communities by providing them with the opportunity to generate additional income in a simple, sustainable and eco-friendly way and have integrate them into the KFS and KWS support programs from the state. We play an important role for the government of Kenya by conserving the rich biodiversity in Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park through creation of awareness, monitoring and combating deforestation, encroachment and wildfires. We are always improving the quality of our cooking stoves, bio-gas, briquettes, bamboo products and beehives so that they are not only good for their needs of our clients but have true and proven social befits and environmental impacts.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Short term: MKFCCG will network with stakeholders engaged in conservation of Mt. Kenya Forest and National Park so that they provide financial resources, equipment and personnel needed to manage wildfires, deforestation, encroachment and establish alternative livelihoods. Medium term: MKFCCG will work with BOKU that obtains funding from Austria (KEF) to improve conservation of Mt. Kenya forest and National Park from 2015 to date. Long term: MKFCCG will solicit funding from National and County Governments to continue its activities of conserving Mt. Kenya forest and National Park. Selling of improved cooking stoves, bio-gas tanks, briquettes, bamboo products, beehives, honey and wax has been providing 60% of the revenue to MKFCCG.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your current team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Our team is composed of 4 management board members: one professor with experience in forestry decision support, one doctor with experience in forest fire management , one doctor with experience in community livelihoods improvement, two Msc. holders with knowledge in forest biodiversity conservation and 40 volunteers who are well trained in conserving biodiversity and making and selling of alternative livelihood products. We plan to integrate more people into our team as the project grows.

11. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Search engine
  • Recommended by others

12. Connection to Biodiversity: How does your project directly contributes to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity? Please share data to support your answer.

Mount Kenya Forest and National Park has threatened tree species according to the IUCN Red List such as Croton alienus- IUCN Red List category is endangered (EN); Vitex keniensis-IUCN Red List category is endangered (EN); and Prunus Africana-IUCN Red List category is vulnerable (VU) and was listed in international convention of CITES listing in 1995. To preserve and restore the three threatened tree species, The MKFCCG has been working with communities, KFS, KWS and NGO's and we have reforested over 3,000 Ha with seedlings of the threatened tree species. Through our good team work we have arrested and prosecuted over 240 culprits involved in illegal logging of the threatened tree species. We have also fought and extinguished over 120 wildfires and the number of wildfires has declined significantly. We also make and sell alternative livelihood products that help to reduce community dependency on Mount Kenya Forest and National Park for wood and non-wood forest products.

13. Example: Please walk us through one or two concrete examples that show how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address.

Our staff use the social media every day to raise awareness among communities, KFS, KWS and NGOs on how to conserve, protect and restore the threatened tree species in Mount Kenya Forest and National Park. Every day we are involved in-situ conservation, captive breeding and artificial propagation of the threatened tree species in our own MKFCCG tree nurseries. We are currently helping KFS and KWS to establish genome resource banks of the threatened tree species. Each day our five working teams are involved in making beehives, bamboo products, improved cooking stoves, bio-gas tanks and briquettes. Each day, some of our team members sell our alternative livelihood products to local communities. They also supply them to some retail shops at the nearby markets. Our daily benefits from selling of our alternative livelihood products shared equitably among members of our group. This has motivated us actively conserve and restore biodiversity in Mount Kenya Forest and National Park.

14. Marketplace: Who else is addressing this problem in your environment? How does your proposed project differ from these other approaches?

There are several national and international organizations that are working to conserve biodiversity in Mount Kenya Forest and National Park such a WWF, Birdlife International, the Mount Kenya Wildlife Trust and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy that help in managing protected areas for the conservation of threatened and endemic species. Serena Hotel and other hotels promote ecotourism activities . However, the MKFCCG provides a community space for participation, knowledge exchange, joint communication and advocacy actions that help to conserve, protect and restore biodiversity . The other projects differ from ours because none of them is making and selling alternative livelihoods products like beehives, bamboo products, improved cooking stoves, bio-gas tanks, briquettes. Our alternative livelihood products are unique, have high demand and they help to conserve and protect biodiversity by reducing over-dependency on Mount Kenya Forest and National Park for wood and non-wood forest products.

15. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

(A) FIREMAPS award by KFS and KWS awarded in March 2019 (B) Forest Fire Fighting Award by KFS awarded in August 2019 (C) Mount Kenya Water Catchment Protection award in August, 2017 (D) Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education & Research for Development (APPEAR) awarded in February 2016 (E) Commission for scientific research grant (KEF), Austria awarded in February 2015 (F) APPEAR research grant awarded in March 2015

16. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: Please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Our initiative is financially sustainable through its selling of improved cooking stoves, bio-gas tanks, briquettes, bamboo products, beehives, honey and wax. Due to the high quality of our alternative livelihood products, we have a demand that is higher than our production capacity, which is currently slowed down by the difficulty of the logistic for the supply and the lack of specialised equipment for making some of our products. To ensure and accelerate our growth we have received individual donations, some support from foundations and grants which we have used to reach new communities, improve our supply chain and acquire and upgrade machines. With these we aim to replicate our activities in new areas, increase our market share and provide products with higher added value to our customers. The structure of our current budget is: 60% sales revenue, 20% foundation, 10% Individual donations and 10 % grants.

17. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of the Act for Biodiversity Challenge? How would you invest the prize money to leverage your work?

We plan to increase awareness to a wider audience so that we stop deforestation, encroachment and wildfires and participate in conserving and restoring forest biodiversity in our country. We plan to use various platforms, specially social media to inform communities and other stakeholders the positive story of how our alternative livelihood products such as improved cooking stoves, bio-gas tanks, briquettes, bamboo products, beehives, honey and wax help to: create income; reduce deforestation, encroachment and wildfires thereby contributing to conservation of forest biodiversity our country. Our plan is to use the investment to expand our impacts among communities in other places in Kenya where the forest biodiversity is vulnerable and where populations can benefit greatly from our initiatives. The investment will be used for training, buying of new equipment to increase production and quality of our products, advertise, legalize our products and implementation of new supply routes.

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. 1) OVERALL EVALUATION

Yes, absolutely! - 25%

Yes/maybe - 25%

Maybe - 50%

Maybe/no - 0%

No - 0%

2. 2) CONNECTION TO BIODIVERSITY

5 —Absolutely! It’s crystal clear how the solution is directly contributing to preserving and/or restoring biodiversity. - 50%

4—Yes, it establishes a clear connection to biodiversity. - 25%

3—Somewhat, the entry speaks to biodiversity but the direct impact is not well established and/or it is focused on a single species without considering its impact on the broader ecosystem - 25%

2—Not really, the connection to biodiversity is weak - 0%

1—No. The entry does not reference the solution’s impact on biodiversity. - 0%

3. 3) Is this entry IMPACTFUL?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 75%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

4. 4) Is this entry INNOVATIVE?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

5. 5) Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 25%

4- Yes, I think so. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 25%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

6. 6) Is this entry ACTIVATING CHANGEMAKING?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 0%

4- Yes, I think so. - 100%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

7. 7) Does this entry value COLLABORATION WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS in its approach?

5- Yes, absolutely! - 50%

4- Yes, I think ko. - 50%

3- Maybe. - 0%

2- Probably not. - 0%

1- No. - 0%

8. 8) FEEDBACK – Highlights

INNOVATION: You have a great understanding of the problem, have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions - 66.7%

IMPACT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: You have a thoughtful plan for growth and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 66.7%

VIABIBLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 66.7%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: You value thinking around how to activate changemakers and empower them to innovate through your product or programming - 66.7%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: You have a clearly defined plan on how to maximize shared value across multiple sectors and stakeholders - 33.3%

WRITING STYLE: Your writing style is concise, descriptive, clear, and specific - 33.3%

Other option - 0%

9. 9) FEEDBACK - Areas for Improvement

INNOVATION: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 100%

IMPACT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

GROWTH & LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 50%

POTENTIAL TO CREATE SHARED VALUE: your plan can benefit from more thought on how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 50%

WRITING STYLE: Try to be more concise, descriptive, clear, and specific. Avoid jargon. - 100%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

CHANGEMAKING ACTIVATION: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming - 0%

Other option - 0%

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Attachments (11)

Fire remote.png

MAP developed by MKFCCG team using MODIS-FIRMS satellite data to show the daily spatial and temporal distribution of the number of fires and burnt areas according to the land use types (National Park, Forest Stations and Farmlands) and seasons in Mount Kenya Forest and National Park from 2003 to 2019

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