Monthly Archives: February 2016

Multi-Story Farming Conserves Land and Water

Wildlife Works uses Multi-Story Farming as a Conservation Method

Wildlife Works is located in Taita Taveta County, Kenya, a hot and dry coastal region where the average annual rainfall is less than 16 inches per year. These arid conditions are very unfriendly for agriculture, and in an rural area where there is no substantial industry and high poverty rates, these communities have to exploit their surrounding natural resources to survive. With just over 400 employees, we are the second largest employer in the area.

Harmful yet income generating activities that many people resort to include cutting down trees for the illegal charcoal industry and poaching wildlife for bush meat and for commercial purposes.

wildlife works eco charcoalWildlife Works’ eco charcoal¬†

Wildlife Works’ mission is to provide livelihood alternatives to natural resource destruction. In addition to creating jobs, we built greenhouses to rehabilitate and expand the forests and train the community on sustainable subsistence farming.

wildlife works greenhouseWildlife Works’ first greenhouse

Wildlife Works has been encouraging the community, including women’s groups, youth groups and schools to plant trees by teaching them intensive organic vegetable and fruit tree farming.

wildlife works greenhouse training

The training programs include skills like:

  • how to use drip irrigation to conserve water
  • how to use shade nets to minimize water loss
  • how to repel large insects
  • compost making and its use for soil improvement, as an alternative to commercial fertilizers
  • to use non-chemical methods to control insects
  • to use multi-story farming to achieve maximize land use and water conservation

wildlife works greenhouseConstruction of the new greenhouse at Bungule in Kasigau for local women groups use. 

Multi-story Farming

Multi-story farming promotes the efficient use of land and water by growing plants vertically, instead of using the conventional horizontal ground farming method.

The method is useful in places:

  • where land is scarce or too expensive
  • where people want to minimize forest and bush clearing for agricultural land expansion
  • that have rocky ground
  • where water is scarce
  • that have soggy soil
  • that use aeroponics or another non-soil growing method

multi story farming wildlife works

Multi-story Farming Method Advantages

Multi-story farming has many advantages. It conserves forests and other vegetation, as communities cultivate less land than they would with conventional farming methods. They may also be able to reduce already cultivated areas. In addition, less water is required as water flows vertically, irrigating other plants, instead of soaking deep and out of the root zone, as often happens with conventional farming. The polythene net in the multi-story design smothers weeds, therefore, the amount of labor required is reduced. Other than the irrigation system, which is available in Nairobi, all materials are available in the immediate vicinity of the Wildlife Works community vicinity. Furthermore, with an effective fencing system, multi-story farming minimizes human-wildlife conflict by reducing animal territory encroachment.

wildlife works multi story greenhouse

Impact on Households

Multi-story farming positively impacts households by improving agricultural productivity and increasing income. It improves agricultural productivity by approximately 500 percent. For example, kale yield is approximately 8,000 kg per acre with conventional farming methods, but a multi-story system can yield approximately 40,000 kg per acre.

By yielding more vegetables, a multi-story gardening system can increase household income.

wildlife works multi story greenhouse

Future plans

In the near future, Wildlife Works plans to roll out multi-story farming within the community. It will start in areas where Carbon Trust water catchment and reservoirs have been built. It is investigating water conservation irrigation methods efficient enough to enable irrigation at even higher elevations, to further increase land-use efficiency. We also plan to introduce a wider variety of crops and test various growing media other than soil, such as coco, peat and algae.

This progress is not without challenges which including high production costs (because of the need for wildlife fencing), literacy rates, water availability and natural threats to organic plants. Wildlife Works is pushing to combat all of the challenges in order to successfully introduce improved farming methods to the larger community.

We look forward to rolling out this program on a larger scale, bringing more benefits to farming families in the area.

Great Grevy’s Rally – Grevy Zebra Cencus Count

On January the 30th and 31st 2016, the “Great Grevy’s Rally” was held in Kenya. This was designed to give an overall estimate of population of the Grevy‚Äôs zebra in Kenya, as well as to help researchers calculate potential growth.

The Gr√©vy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), also known as the imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and the largest and most threatened of the three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Gr√©vy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Gr√©vy’s zebra is found in Kenya and Ethiopia. Compared with other zebras, it is tall, has large ears, and its stripes are narrower. Source: Wikipedia

Grevy Zebra

Current estimates put the total population of Grevy’s Zebra remaining in the wild in Kenya and Ethiopia at approximately 1,966 to 2,447 (2008). From 1988 to 2007, the global population of Grevy‚Äôs Zebra declined approximately 55%. The worse case scenario is a decline from 1980 to 2007 of 68%. The number of mature individuals is approximately 750, and the largest subpopulation is approximately 255 mature individuals.

In Kenya, the Grevy’s Zebra population declined from an estimated 4,276 in 1988 to 2435-2707 in 2000 to 1567-1976 in 2004 to an estimated population size of 1468-2135 in 2006. In 2007, the population estimate of 1838-2319 indicates that either more individuals were being accurately observed or that the population is stabilizing and increasing (2007). The trend from 1988 to 2006 (18 years) is a decline of 50 to 66%.

In Ethiopia, Grevy’s Zebra declined from an estimated 1,900 in 1980 to 577 in 1995. In 2006, the population in Ethiopia was estimated to be 128. The trend from 1980 to 2003 (23 years) is a decline of roughly 94%. 

The density and area of occupancy of Grevy’s Zebras fluctuates seasonally as animals move in their search for resources. During the dry season, when they are dependent on permanent water, animals tend to be more concentrated. However, given that they can move up to 35 km from water even during the dry season, their densities are never high. They are most abundant and most easily observed in the southern portion of their range in southern Samburu and the Laikipia Plateau. Source: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Grevy Zebra Kenya Wildlife Works

The count was mostly carried out in Northern Kenya, however the smaller satellite population in the Tsavo Conservation Area (TCA) was also included. 

The areas in the TCA that Grevy’s zebra are found are located in the Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project area. Four teams from Wildlife Works, made up of 6 rangers, divided up the zones where there have been known sightings of the Grevy‚Äôs. The count took place over two days, beginning at 06.30hrs and finishing at 16.30hrs each day.

Each team had to photograph the right hand side only, of any Zebra individual they found. The photos were GPS tagged to clearly show the location of each animal and¬†will then be processed by the Image Based Ecological Information System (IBEIS), which will identify the individual and its age and sex,¬†and will record the observational time and location. The IBEIS results will estimate the size of the Grevy’s zebra population throughout Kenya. ¬†

In total the teams found 13 individuals over the course of three days. This may sound like very few, but given the species rarity (estimated only 50 individuals in this area) and the thick bush and green conditions, we think that was quite an achievement in itself! 

All the results have now been submitted to the Grevy’s Trust for final analysis, and inclusion into the overall census. The results of the population of Kenya’s Grevy’s zebra should soon be published.

Thank you to all the Wildlife Works rangers who took part!  

Enterprising Women Empower Change

Tumaini¬†Environmental Women‚Äôs Group’s Founder Mama Mercy Drive Change in Her Community

Women’s groups provide essential and powerful support systems for the poorest communities in developing counties. By supporting these organizations in the communities we serve, Wildlife Works has seen tremendous growth in the financial and general health of these communities.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works

The¬†Tumaini¬†Environmental¬†Women‚Äôs¬†Group¬†and its founder Mama Mercy is a shining example of how women can drive change. In¬†the village¬†of¬†Itinyi, Mercy Ngaruiya, known as Mama Mercy in the community, has been helping women in her community out of the cycle of poverty for decades. She is known as¬†one of the community’s most enterprising women! Because of this, we have hosted her to speak at conservation events all around the world to represent the voice of her community.

mama Mercy Wildlife WorksBefore starting Tumaini, there were almost no trees in this area.

After leaving the management of another women‚Äôs group for which she was a founding member, Mama Mercy started Tumaini in 2011 with the goal to restore the landscape and give women other forms of income that supported the environment. With the help of Wildlife Works Kasigau Corridor REDD+ Project, Mama Mercy received a donation of seedlings and was sent on a two-week training program. Along with her years of experience leading women, Mama Mercy came back revitalized and equipped to set up¬†Tumaini¬†(“we hope” in Swahili)¬†Environmental¬†Women‚Äôs¬†Group for success!

mama Mercy Wildlife Works

Today, one of the groups’ income activities is selling indigenous seedlings that the women propagated to Wildlife Works. Wildlife Works then looks after the seedlings in the greenhouse until they are large enough to survive a dry season, at which point they are given out to the community to be planted.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

The women also work together to find non-governmental organizations to fund women who have specific and urgent needs. For example, a widow in the community needed a home, so the group was able to secure funding from Camp Kenya to find her one.

Tumaini also participates in tabletop banking (similar to Chamas and Merry-Go-Round banking) where members pool in their own money to offer individual members loans with interest paid back to the lenders. This community-based loan system has been growing in popularity, many times over bank-sponsored micro-loans. Mercy had learned about tabletop banking through World Vision, who had sent her to community training sessions. Mercy decided to start tabletop banking within the group, after seeking a loan herself, which she found to be much more accessible than going to a bank.

For example, in order to obtain a 40,000 Kenya Shilling loan (USD400), from the bank in Voi, the nearest town 30 kilometers away, she was told her that she would need someone to co-sign for her. The round-trip cost to Voi for her and another person would be 1,000 Kenyan Shillings, or USD10. And, she would have to pay the bank 12% interest. She could not afford these fees, and neither could other women in need of loans. Pooling money amongst the community and paying themselves 10% interest seemed like a much better option.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

Initially, the women were hesitant to borrow money for fear that they would not be able to repay it. Mercy encouraged the women to borrow, because the group relied on interest to make a profit. Fast-forward five years, women want to borrow increasingly more money and the group now lends as much as it has available.

At the December 2015 meeting, the co-op received repayment for loans in the amount of $2,440.15. The women are using the loans to pay for their children’s school fees, to buy groceries, and to fund their small businesses. They have bought seedlings for their gardens, chickens to produce eggs to sell, provisions for small grocery stores, and materials for making baskets and crafts.

wildlife works table banking

In 2015, each co-op member contributed approximately $26.40, or $2.20 per month. From that amount, two dollars funds co-op lending and 20 cents is allocated for insurance.  If someone from the co-op passes away, the insurance covers their outstanding loan and the financial burden does not fall on the family.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

All group members receive the same dividend once a year.  During their meeting in December, the co-op distributed $1,500 in dividends.  Each woman received $50, or a net profit of $23.60, 91 percent of their initial investment. They also received staples to prepare Christmas meals, such as five kilograms of flour, rice, and sugar, and five liters of oil, all bought from the co-op profits.

mama Mercy Wildlife Works Table banking

Tumaini Women’s Environmental Group limits their number of members to 30 but the demand to join is higher so they have trained 18 other groups on how to start tabletop banking.

Because of Mama Mercy’s leadership, vision and dedication, so many more women in her community now have more resources to build brighter futures!

Watch her tell her story here:

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.58.53 PM

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About Wildlife Works Carbon:

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests.

Over a 15 year history Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

The company helps local landowners in the developing world monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

WHAT IS WILDLIFE WORKS?

Protecting + Forests + Wildlife + Community since 1997.

Wildlife Works is the world's leading REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation), project development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. REDD+ was originated by the United Nations (UN) to help stop the destruction of the world's forests.