Kenya Private/Public Arboretum Project.(KPPA)
According to the Kenya Forestry Act of 2005,(part I. caption.30). 'Each and
every local authority, shall establish and maintain arboreta, mini forests or recreational parks for the use of persons residing in within its area of jurisdiction.' This will be a designated managed area that is open and accessible to the general public. This endeavor is being undertaken to increase public interest and awareness in our overall environment and forestry in particular whilst disseminating appropriate arboreal and silvicultural techniques in the many and varied biomes of Kenya.
The mission of the Kenya Private/Public Arboretum Project is to promote our quality of life by seeking, through scholarship, research, and education, collaborative solutions to growing demands on our natural landscape and its resources.
In rapidly expanding metropolitan areas, it will serve as an educational facility, and a microcosm of the human/nature continuum in human habited landscapes, the Kenya Private/Public Arboretum Project shall strive to become an interdisciplinary 'institute for land health' of district, provincial, and perhaps national significance."
The area set aside for the arboretum will be a minimum of 5 acres and it will be run as a private/public enterprise, (managed as a private business enterprise run for the benefit of the general public) this will be done to ensure that the maximum amount of holistic land husbandry will be applied so as to generate self sustaining profits through demonstration models of small scale organic agroforestry food, fuel and fodder sites, seedling sales and education and extension work.
Core focuses will be on endemic tree species for biofuels and locality specific agro-business models that will offer alternate income generating land use modes for rural and urban farmers whilst providing a place of peace and enjoyment to the public at large as well as a diverse habitat for wildlife.
The Kitengela private Arboretum was established in 1996 on the outskirts of what was then a sleepy Maasai trading center as a woodfuel demonstration project. One of the initial goals was to see just how long it takes one tree to grow one bag of acacia charcoal in a semi arid area, (8 years with correct planting and managing). Some 14 years later, work at the arboretum is still focused on detailed research of the production, management, and processing of wood fuels, along with the development and production of new and original designs of charcoal and wood powered stoves and ovens.
The arboretum now sits on a two and a half acre piece of land right in the middle of what has now become a vast urban township, zoned in agricultural land, Kitengela Town is home to more then 100,000 people with many more passing through. Having developed rapidly with nil to minimal urban planning systems in place, the Arboretum is located in between a large steel mill, a church, a suburban middle class housing estate and the tin shacks of labor lines that service the steel mill. This unintentional placement makes for perfect scale model of how arboretea compliment all facets of urban life, it is an immediate carbon dioxide sink for the steel mill, the over hanging branches on the edges provide shade to both the church goers and factory workers and it serves as a aesthetic barrier for the housing estate.
As of 2008 there are 24 species of dryland adapted tree species, some reaching over 30 feet high with fully developed crowns. About 90% of the arboretum receives a high level of shade and leaf litter among the trees is 3in deep in some places. This has greatly encouraged a growing population of bird life, 18 species have been confirmed, up from 3 species when it was just grassland, there are at least 2 species of nocturnal bats and the forest is host to a large and diverse number of insect species. Introduced mycelium spores have gained a foot hold in two areas of the forest with mushrooms coming up during the rains. In effect the arboretum has become an island of biodiversity in the turbulent urban sea of Kitengela Township.
The Arboretum has become quite useful to the people of Kitengela. It has become a popular place for photo shoots of weddings and family pictures. The District Commissioner eats a yearly goat with his entourage and the accepted popular name for the road it is on is even Forest Road.
Future plans for the arboretum are focused on the opening of the Dryland Tree Planting Resource Center in 2010 which will be comprised of a conference hall, library and short term accommodation for students and interns.
Activities at the arboretum are based around the dissemination of forestry related information. Training sessions in tree seedling propagation, seed collection, efficient utilization of wood by-products, beekeeping, small scale dryland food production, weaving trees for live sculptures, energy efficient charcoaling and many other silvicultural techniques are held on a quarterly basis during the annual open days. The KPPA is also home to the largest independent firewood and charcoal cookstove and oven factory in East Africa.
Being a private residence and arboretum, reservations are to be made one week in advance for visits; entrance is free of charge for individuals of the general public. For school visits and other large groups a small fee is charged depending on duration of visit and amount of participants.
Upcoming up events-
Annual 'Who can eat a whole leg of Goat' contest January 31st 2009 The Great Kitengela Pumpkin Challenge March 4th 2009
Charcoaling- Upscaling Efficiency and Production- a speech with Dr. Maxwell Kinyanjui. April 12th 2009 Renewable Woodfuel Production: Lessons from the field for long term policy implementation- Teddy Kinyanjui July 4th 2009 with Mr. Marc Goss and Mr. Marcus Church as guest speakers. Key note Address will be given by Prince Peter Saphia Beckmann from the Polish Royal Dioyonisis Society.
The Kitengela Arboretum Ltd.
Po Box 23058
The Forest at Kitengela
Energy Efficient Cookstoves