The ASSETS programme, since its inception in 2001, has solicited for eco-bursaries which have benefitted hundreds of needy, bright students from around Arabuko Sokoke Forest and Mida Creek. A Rocha Kenya works closely with Muvera wa ASSETS members (parents whose children benefit from the bursary scheme) and wildlife clubs patrons of schools to actively involve children in conservation of the environment.
Last week we organized a tree planting activity in one of the ASSETS schools and managed to plant more than 300 seedlings of indigenous trees. Parents and pupils (wildlife club members) participated in the event.
It was an opportunity to widen their knowledge on trees as we taught them the botanical names and the significance of indigenous trees. They can easily adapt to changing climate and continue to offer a suitable habitat for endemic fauna. Another key aspect of indigenous trees is that they sink more carbon dioxide than exotic species. Besides, it is indispensable in creating an ecological heritage for the young generation. Care of each tree, which involves construction of a wigwam, watering, monitoring and reporting growth to the wildlife club patron in the school was assigned to every pupil.
Establishing tree nurseries and maintaining woodlots at home is one of the key requirements Muvera wa ASSETS members have to fulfill. This minimizes the pressure exerted on the forest when communities need wood for fuel, construction and other household uses. This also does help in conservation of the mangrove forest which has a number of benefits. At Mida Creek, mangroves support the boardwalk which is the chief eco-bursaries earner for ASSETS. They are ecologically important as they form breeding sites for some birds and at times turtles. They also reduce the strength of waves hence reducing erosion and saline water intrusion inland. On the other hand they capture and break down waste sediments from inland hence curbing pollution in the aquatic ecosystem.
Tree enthusiasm is the remedy for desertification.