Zeitz foundation report

1. Background and Context

Deforestation in Kenya has received global attention due to a sharp decrease in forest-covered
land, from 10% to approximately 6%, over the last decade. As highlighted through the efforts of
the Green Belt Movement, founded by Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, this
cutting down of trees results in land becoming degraded; rainwater therefore runs off the surface
and erodes the fertile topsoil. This affects groundwater reserves, because it is only when land is
sufficiently covered by trees or vegetation that water is able to seep into underground wells.

Among the many causes of deforestation in Kenya is the practice of charcoal-burning, where trees
are cut down and the wood is burned in a low oxygen environment to create charcoal. In turn, this
is sold as an energy source for various commercial and domestic purposes. Tree species such as
Acacia are preferred as their charcoal burns longer. The long-term effects of deforestation have
had a critically negative impact on the ecosystem, affecting not only plant and animal life but also
the wellbeing of human communities who rely on the fertility of the land for their own prosperity.

The ZEITZ foundation therefore embarked on an initiative to set aside wildlife exclusion zones
for growing new forest cover in riverine areas and open plains that border some of its local
communities, with the goal to plant over 1 million new Acacia trees over the next 10 years,
attending to land that has been degraded or lost its forest cover over time. This is a critical aspect
of restoring and replenishing the land, since a healthy biodiversity is dependent on underground
water reserves, fertile topsoil and an abundant carbon sequestration capacity. The initiative
kickstarted in 2020 with the planting of its first rhino-shaped forest (aerial view below) to highlight
the most critical crisis of climate change and loss of biodiversity in the world.

2. Purpose of the Grant

The purpose of the grant from Freestream Aircraft Ltd was to plant 1 million tree seedlings on
Segera Conservancy over a 10-year period, based on 100,000 trees per annum, under the “Tree of
Life” Reforestation Initiative.


3. Project Status

Land Preparation, Seedling Nursery & Planting

The sowing of seeds and transplanting to biodegradable planting bags was an ongoing activity
throughout the reporting period. As a result, 290kg (207 kg Acacia polyacantha and 83kg Acacia
kirkii) certified acacia seeds were procured from the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI),
with fifteen women from local communities employed to handle the various processes of seed
germination, soil preparations, bagging of young seedlings, care and maintenance. Proper
maintenance of the seedlings was ensured by weeding and adequate watering.

Kenya (and the Horn of Africa) is experiencing its worst drought in over 40 years, which has
significantly impacted the ZEITZ foundation’s ability to plant trees. This activity is dependent on
adequate and reliable rainfall. Unfortunately, the anticipated April/May rainy season was well
below annual averages, exacerbated by poor spatial distribution. Laikipia was no exception, with
only a small amount of rainfall experienced in May.

The short rains typically experienced in November also largely failed in 2021, marking the third
consecutive below-average rain season across Kenya (particularly Laikipia). This, unfortunately,
limited the number of Acacia seedlings that could be planted in the field. Despite minimal rainfall,
the ZEITZ foundation planted 13,000 acacia seedlings in May 2021. Planting was carried out in a
riparian zone for soil restoration and stabilization.

In preparation for the anticipated planting during the October-December 2021 rainy season,
furrows were ripped in the target area. Ripping of furrows enhances water infiltration during the
rainy season, thus increasing the survival rate of planted trees. During this period,118,444 tree
seedlings were planted.

Minimal rainfall patterns were also observed in 2022, thus limiting planting in the field. However,
an additional 5,785 tree seedlings were planted as of mid-October 2022 with manual watering

The proposed target of planting 100,000 acacia trees was achieved during this reporting period
(July 2021 to mid-October 2022) which brings the overall total under the “Tree of Life”
Reforestation Initiative over the same period (with funding from various donors) to 160,109 trees
The tree nurseries were also expanded to accommodate the growing number of tree seedlings
where manual care and watering could be provided until the weather conditions improved. Pruning
of the overgrown seedlings in the nurseries was also undertaken to minimize loss and in
preparation for planting.

Water reticulation, rainwater harvesting and storage
As rains continued to be sporadic, hand-watering was undertaken to increase the survival rate of
the seedlings (requiring the procurement of a 5,000-litre water tank and piping of water from the
borehole) was supported by various donors. With support from other donors, a water bowser was
also purchased to support watering efforts in the field.

Additionally, plans are in place to construct a water dam on Segera Conservancy for sustainable
water management for flora and fauna in the area. After intense environmental surveys and
approval of licenses, the dam’s construction plans are now undergoing their final approval with
the relevant government authorities before implementation.

4. Upcoming Activities

Over the next few weeks, we will focus our efforts on the maintenance of the existing seedlings in the
nurseries as we await the rainy season in November and December.

Land preparations will be undertaken prior to the planting exercise with the support of women engaged
from the surrounding communities. The women will also provide ongoing maintenance of the nurseries
through weeding and watering.

Trees within the field will also be monitored and replanting undertaken where needed.