A tree nursery for fruit trees. Image courtesy of Jackson Okata.

The Mirema Forest is a lush green forest in Kenya that is located 480 kilometers (300 miles) west of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This forest is important because it is the source of several streams that feed into the Kuja River. The Kuja River in turn drains into Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa.

River Kuja which cuts through the Mirema forest. The forest is source to some streams that feed the river. Image courtesy of Jackson Okata.

The Mirema Forest was not always lush and green. Most of the original 810-hectare (2,000-acre) forest was logged in the 1980s and ’90s, according to Michael Onyango, a government forestry officer for Migori county, where the forest is located.

The removal of the forest caused problems for people surrounding the forest. Edwin Ouma, a resident of the Mirema Forest area explains why the removal of the forest was a problem: “Long rains came with floods because there were no trees or vegetation to control the speed and flow of water. This affected hundreds of families.”

Edwin Ouma, Susan Aluoch, and other Mirema Community Forest Association members decided that they needed to reforest the Mirema Forest in order to protect their homes and farmlands from floods. In just five years they have managed to plant 300,000 trees and help speed up natural regeneration of the Mirema Forest! 

They speed up natural forest regeneration by pruning tree stumps. They also plant nursery-grown tree seedlings. Using these methods, the community has successfully regenerated 50% of their once denuded forest.

Susan Aluoch works at a community tree nursery in preparation for the coming long rains. She is a member of the CFA and was once a victim of flooding in the community. Image courtesy of Jackson Okata.

The Kenya Forest Service has recognized the success of the Mirema Forest reforestation project. It expects the entire 810 hectares (2,000 acres) of the Mirema Forest to be restored by 2027.  The Mirema Forest reforestation process of using both natural regeneration and planted tree seedlings is now seen as a model for reforesting other parts of Kenya.

Mirema CFA and community members during a tree planting and management training with KFS rangers. Image courtesy of Jackson Okata.

This story was adapted for Mongabay Kids from an original article by Jackson Okata. See the original on Mongabay.com: