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Nairobi, Kenya

by Community Forests International on February 1, 2010

We are now in Nairobi, Kenya, awaiting our flight to Zanzibar on the 3rd. While here we hope to visit Uruhu Park and Freedom Corner, made famous by Kenyan political and environmental activist Wangari Maathi. The first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize (2004), one of Wangari's many achievements was to developed the Pan African Green Belt Network and assist women in planting over 20 million trees on public land and farms. She is a tree planter after our own hearts!

If time allows we will also visit the Nairobi Arboretum, to get familiar first-hand with some of the native and exotic tree species of East Africa. The Arboretum is over 100 years old and in its early years was used for trials of introduced trees. Invasive species are a problem here in East Africa and on Pemba, it would be good to see the long-term impacts of exotics in the Arboretum and learn what techniques, if any, are used to control them there. I am also currently putting the finishing touches on a list of multipurpose indigenous trees that I hope to introduce to CFI's community nurseries on Pemba, and I might find some useful information from the staff at the Arboretum as at least a few of the tree species there are local to Pemba.

 Now is probably a good time to start describing Pemba's forests. Starting around the mid-nineteenth century on Pemba native forests were cleared for clove plantation, and so little of the unique primary forest survives. Today the Ngezi Forest Reserve (1440 Hectares) in the Northwest is almost the last stand of indigenous forest. As much of the surrounding forest was cleared and reforested with a mix of native and exotic trees, the exotic species have affected the Ngezi forest area. The most damaging of the exotics is a species known as Msisi (Muesopsis eminii). Msisi is from the African mainland and its aggressive nature suppresses the growth of indigenous trees. Staff at the reserve have had success in ringing and uprooting young Msisi to allow the indigenous trees to regenerate, which is encouraging because the preservation of Ngezi is invaluable for Pembans. I am confident that Ngezi will be a great source of seed and inspiration for CFI's community tree nurseries, and that countless benefits will be had by imitating its structure and composition in community reforestation efforts.

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