PROJECT 04: LORIEN

Once upon a time, Kenya was an almost unbroken belt of indigenous cedar, olive and podo forest stretching from Mt Kenya on the equator to the Congo rainforest. That time only ended fifty years ago but when it ended, it came crashing down and with it went ancient forests, trees many hundreds of years old cut down for building and firewood with no hope of recovery for future generations. Today isolated pockets remain such as the Mukogodo forest reserve and the Ngare Ndare reserve to name two. Lorien sits between these two precious gems. Lorien was once a pristine valley of these iconic tree species. Sadly today, in just over two hundred acres there remain only eight individual, adult African pencil cedar trees.

 

The late Wangari Maathai, Kenya’s only and Africa’s only female Nobel prize laureate, advocated for what she called the Green Belt Movement. The World Economic Forum has suggested that large scale tree planting on the Equator might significantly reduce the effects of climate change. Lorien sits firmly on the equator, it used to be covered in indigenous forest and it has the potential to once again be an important woodland area. With increased forest and woodland, this would not only provide cover for wildlife, it would also hold the soil together so that rain run off is less extreme and over time indications are that it would actually increase rainfall to the immediate surrounding area.

 

The goal, the dream, is to secure this four hundred acre parcel of land and to then plant indigenous cedar, olive and other native tree species. The plan is also to involve the local community by providing them with jobs. While Lorien does not intend to be the solution it does aim and hope to be of help to the community over time and to integrate itself within the overall community.

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Photo credit: NSH and projects