Almost 300 miles of electric fences have been built around forests in Kenya to protect wildlife from hunting, prevent illegal logging and conserve water sources.
The Kenyan environmental group Rhino Ark Trust has erected 450 km of electric fencing around two key areas where rain flows into the country’s rivers.
This is part of a project to save 570,000 hectares of mountain forests, which, according to the organization, are part of the main rain catchment areas of the African country.
The fences were installed to stem the rampant deforestation and charcoal burning that has impacted forests in recent years and “critically depleted” forest cover, according to the Rhino Ark Trust.
Animal poaching has also affected forest wildlife. The Rhino Ark Trust said animals in the Eburru Forest “have been decimated by poaching / bushmeat hunting and human interference.”
This is not the first time an electric fence has been used to keep people out of forests and forests in Kenya. In 2014, the Rhino Ark Trust funded a 43 km fence around the Eburru Forest in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
Fences are equipped with alarms to alert rangers to intruders. According to Joseph Mutongu, the fence community’s manager, installing the fences has reduced the burning and logging of charcoal in the area to next to nothing, Reuters reported.
Data from the Kenyan Ministry of the Environment showed that forest cover was around 7 percent in 2015. Now Kenya is aiming to increase this to 10 percent by 2022, Reuters reported.
The aim is to achieve the standard set by the United Nations, which emphasized the importance of forests in combating climate change. The organization said in a report: “Forests make a significant contribution to the containment and adaptation of climate change and the preservation of biodiversity.”
Private conservation groups play a key role in financing projects like the one in Eburru. Fences prevent trees from being destroyed and animals from being killed.
Meanwhile, those who live locally in Eburru are not being expelled from the forest and instead encouraged by the Rhino Ark Trust to harvest honey and wild fruits from the land.
Maseto Kusen, a member of the local Ogiek community, told Reuters, “This was our only livelihood. We were heavily dependent on honey, meat, and wild fruits. “
Farmers in the area also believe that reducing logging and burning of charcoal will help their crops get enough rain.
Local farmer Joseph Kariuki said farmers in the area believe the trees will help bring rain. He stated, “It’s green everywhere,” adding, “The environment has really changed.”
Additional coverage from Reuters