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The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko led state agencies under his ministry in marking the 1st anniversary of the reclamation of the Maasai Mau forest on 31st October, 2020 at Senetwet Maasai Mau Forest (block 65), Narok County.
The Maasai Mau forest block is one of 22 forest blocks of the Mau Forest Complex. It is the only forest block in the Mau forest complex managed by the County Government of Narok. With an approximate area of 45,800 hectares, the Maasai Mau is the most threatened forest block by the extensive impact of illegal settlements.
Maasai Mau forest block is a major water catchment area for 5 major rivers, including Mara and Ewaso Ng’iro rivers. The forest block is the lifeline for Mara-Serengeti game reserve and National park, the pastoral communities in Narok and Kajiado counties, as well as Lake Natron which is a major breeding ground for flamingoes.
The forest block is also an important biodiversity conservation area as it is home to over 393 plant species, 132 bird species, 49 mammal species, 10 reptiles and amphibians, and 368 spider species. The Mara-Serengeti ecosystem is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site as it hosts the eighth wonder of the world, the Wildebeest migration.
Clan leader, Mr. Joshpat Langat thanked National Government for spearheading the restoration exercise. He said that in the past land squabbles and cattle rustling had led to the loss of thousands of lives, but with this restoration process, farming land has been clearly demarcated and the community has been sensitized on the need and importance of restoring and conserving the forest.
In his remarks KEFRI Board Chairman, Dr. Sammy Latema emphasized the importance of tree growing as opposed to just planting. He further reported that 7 blocks out of the 13 blocks that were planted in 2019 through the aerial seeding project are successful with 10% germination having taken place. He also announced that KEFRI is in talks with Narok County Government to set up a sub-center in the county.
Members of the local community participating in the tree growing exercise.
CS Keriako Tobiko called upon the community to jealously safeguard the forest. “These forests belong to all Kenyans regardless of tribe or gender. We need to view rehabilitation and conservation as a personal initiative in order to ensure that we are leaving a clean and healthy environment for future generations,” he said.