Video by: Caroline Kerichu
Kirisia Forest is a 92000 ha forest reserve located in the samburu heartland. It is one of the oldest state forests reserve in Kenya gazetted in the year 1933. Also known as Leroghi, the forest is endowed with rich biodiversity of different unique species of flora and fauna. It is not only a rich habitat for wildlife but also a hot spot for biodiversity conservation and a potentially important attraction for tourism.
The forest reserve provides for the wellbeing and livelihood of the local community and for their cultural and spiritual meaning. This unique relationship with the forest has enabled the community to safeguard the different biodiversity, and also enhance the needs to bring back the traditional knowledge on conservation and integrate it to generations.
Recently, efforts of multi-stakeholders involvement especially with the local community engagement in the rehabilitation and conservation of the forest reserve through awareness and purposive sensitization programmes has been significant in restoring this ecosystem. More than 5,000 people, who had encroached and illegally settled in some parts of Kirisia Forest mainly for livestock grazing fields and water access voluntarily moved out.
Forestry Society of Kenya undertook a project that involved the establishment of three tree nurseries that are community driven and community owned through the local Community Forest Associations within Kirisia Forest, which was supported by Global Environment Facility (GEF) through Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and in collaboration with Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute, and County Government of Samburu.