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The Aberdare Trust launched

Date Published: 16 May, 2012
The Aberdare Trust launched

KWS Fence Manager, Mr. George Odhiambo, demonstrates to the Prime Minister Hon. Raila Odinga on how the fence is monitored during the launch of the Aberdare Fence Trust in Bondeni, Mweiga.

An endowment fund will be established by the Government to provide financial sustainability in managing the Rhino Ark Fence in the Aberdares.

This was said on Friday May 11, 2012 by the Prime Minister, Hon Raila Odinga at a ceremony to launch The Aberdare Trust at the Rhino Ark fence line at Bondeni, Mweiga.

The Trust which was signed by representative of Rhino Ark Chairman, Rhino Ark’s founder Trustee Dr Perez Olindo together with Directors of Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service, Julius Kipng’etich and David Mbugua respectively. Being a Public/Private initiative it will manage the Rhino Ark Aberdare Fence and play an active role in best practice management of the Aberdare Ecosystem. The proposed endowment fund will be a key component in ensuring the trust will be able to achieve its objectives.

In his speech the Prime Minister linked the initiative to vision 2030 which envisages Kenya’s forest cover to increase from 3% to 4%. He noted that we were on the verge of accomplishing the feat and applauded the three bodies: Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and Rhino Ark for streamlining systems in conserving the various water towers across the country.

“I will ensure the Government contributes to the endowment fund. As Government we have committed Ksh.100 million in the current budget to assist with new fencing initiatives at the Mt. Kenya and Mau Eburu.” He added.

The 23 year old Rhino Ark Aberdare Fence project has over the years been funded by donations from thousands of Kenyans thanks to the annual Rhino Charge event. The project has not only been successful in resolving human/wildlife conflict in the Aberdare ecosystem but has assumed a much greater role in the unfolding process of developing strong management and conservation practices within the 2,000 km2 fenced ecosystem.

The gazzetement of the Water Towers Conservation Fund and Kenya Water Towers Agency in July 2010 and April 2012 respectively, was a success story for the Aberdares since its one of the critical water towers in the country. This signifies the government’s active role in monitoring the rehabilitation and conservation of water towers across the country.

According to Hon. Josephat Nanok the Assistant Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, the Aberdares has experienced a 20.6% increase in forest cover between 2005 and 2010, a 47% increase in exotic plantations outside the fenced area and 54% decrease in open areas like grass lands and cultivation inside the now fenced Aberdare Conservation area(ACA).

The new Aberdare Trust’s board will comprise of a mix of public and private sector representation.  The directors of Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service – the two parastatal bodies with management mandate for the Aberdares ecosystem will share policy direction with an appointed Rhino Ark director.  The Trust’s board is empowered to elect up to two members from the fence adjacent communities as Trustees for a two-year period.
 
The Trust is enabled to co-ordinate with the fence edge communities regarding their role in the conservation of the ecosystem, tourism activities in the ecosystem, wildlife and other non-exploitive projects including restoration of ecosystem services in the areas of water management, re-forestation, commercial timber projects outside the fence, cultural and leisure pursuits.
The Trust will be a recipient for funds to develop such activities.


The Rhino Ark project has benefited the fence adjacent communities who in turn have provided considerable voluntary labour and other support mechanisms in the fence’s construction.

An independent economic, social and environment assessment of the Aberdare ecosystem published nine months ago has stated that its goods, services and biodiversity value to the Kenyan economy annually is ksh 59.3 billion.

The fence has eliminated land excisions and resolved human wildlife conflict.  As a consequence farmer incomes have accelerated and land values increased by over 300 %.  Full crop off take is now normal whereas previously wildlife destruction was commonplace.

Speaking at the launch ceremony one of Rhino Ark’s founder Trustees Dr Perez Olindo said: “As initiators of The Aberdare Trust concept it is Rhino Ark’s intention to play a dynamic role as a founder member of the Trust together with the Kenya Wildlife Service and The Kenya Forest Service.   The communities which live adjacent to the fence line and who helped build the fence now have a legal framework to participate in its maintenance and all governance issues pertaining to ecosystem integrity”.

“We must work out an access policy for the gates together with full community, KWS and KFS involvement and within the legal framework of the Forest Act.  The act clearly defines that in closed mountain forest canopy areas the greatest value remains being a prime water catchment zone.  All policies relating to timber off take, livestock grazing and grass removal have a detrimental affect on the forests as a prime water catchment zone. 

In the end we will find a solution which will continue to benefit both the fence edge communities and the wider national and international public who benefit from a more stable Aberdare ecosystem today” said Dr Olindo.


 

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