Mau Forest

Ecotourism Resource


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The Mau Forest Complex sits within Kenya’s Rift Valley and is the largest indigenous montane forest in East Africa. It serves as a critical water catchment area for the country and is the source from which numerous rivers flow, many of them draining into bodies of water like Lake Victoria, which receives 60% of its water from Mau. These rivers exist as lifelines for much of western Kenya’s wildlife and people.

Cutting of trees has been going on for decades. In those days, the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s school children were expected to regularly bring a tree seedling from home for replanting on the school compound or to be given to the faculty who either planted them on the school compound or took them home.

There was a rule that for every tree cut two must be planted. People got arrested if they flouted this rule. Since then things have changed, there is persistent cutting but no replanting. Those who need wood fuel, charcoal and the loggers who want lumber for construction, etc. As a result there is a serious net deficit in number of trees.

Forests have been depleted mainly through logging; saw – milling and charcoal burning

Mau forest is Kenya's largest water tower - it stores rain during the wet seasons and pumps it out during the dry months. It used to cover 400 thousand hectares, but 100 thousands of these have been expropriated. The Mau Forest Task Force identified the period between 1996 and 2005 as the worst decade for the forest cover in the country. But during the past 15 years, more than 100,000 hectares - one quarter of the protected forest reserve - have been settled and cleared. Tearing out the trees at the heart of Kenya has triggered a cascade of drought and despair in the surrounding hills and valleys.

"The plunder of Kenya's forests has continued over the years despite pleas to conserve them because of mismanagement, irresponsible and corrupt behaviour of politicians and government officials. This destruction has manifested itself in the form of deforestation, the shamba system, human settlements, cultivation, charcoal production and grazing. In addition to the Mau forests complex, all the other four water towers namely; Mt Kenya, Aberdare Ranges, Mt Elgon, and Cherengani Hills have receded alarmingly.”

Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai. Sept 2009


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