A group of Kenyan elders has made it their own duty to save their river – by planting retaining-water native trees and banning the cutting of any forestation along the water source – setting a leading example in community-led conservation projects.
“We learned the hard way 15 years ago… That’s when we quickly went back to what our fathers and grandparents had been teaching us,” says Wilson Towett, one of the 15 elders who planted trees running through their village of Cheplanget, Kenya. “We eventually saved the stream and have taken it upon ourselves to teach our children and grandchildren not to destroy the thickets here.”
It took only two rainy seasons to see the river back in full flow. By resorting to traditional methods such as planting trees, community members of all ages can participate in an active, effective, and sustainable way to the preservation of their environment on which their livelihoods and food supplies often greatly depend. Plus, trees have the capacity to absorb a third of the carbon emissions that heat up the planet. Helping communities to find their own ways to save their land and their waters sources, “ensures [that] (the) sustainability and replication of best practices can be passed onto future generations,” says Brian Waswala Olewe, a wildlife and landscape ecologist at Kenya’s Maasai Mara University.