The degradation of pasture documented by the ACP long-term monitoring program is widespread across the Kenya and northern Tanzania rangelands. The Dutch group NAGA funded AET in collaboration with ACC and ACP, to conduct a pilot restoration program on the group ranches using the traditional Maasai olopololi method of grass banks, as reported in the year-end LCAOF report for 2016 and on the ACP website. The pilot program was considered extremely successful and formed the centerpiece of a NAGA submission to the Rabobank in Holland to fund a multi-year restoration program in Kenya, Tanzania and Brazil. I met up with the Rabobank assessment team in September and gave a background to rangelands degradation in Kenya and the steps for restoration. The NAGA group (now called JustDiggit) won the award against a very competitive set of submissions. The group advanced a $70,000 grant ACC and AET in October to set up an interim program and draw up a long-term ecosystem-wide program by March. The JustDiggit team met with AET, ACC, ACP and other NGOs on December 8th to draw up a schedule for completing a detailed restoration plan. The restoration plan will be a multi-year initiative covering the Amboseli ecosystem, south rift and adjoining Tanzania borderlands. The program, to be launched in May 2018, will be overseen by ACC and managed by AET and conservation partners.
In another development, the governor of Kajiado, following the details I gave him on the cause and extent of degradation across the county, has announced he will use all the county’s land holdings as grass banks to provide hay during droughts. The Maasai across Kajiado were buying substandard hay at exorbitant prices from Western Kenya over the last three months.
The magnitude of pasture degradation is finally being acknowledged as a national disaster underlying cause of dislocation and conflict between neighboring tribes in northern Kenya and the deepening the conflict with wildlife. In 2017 the Kenya government signed onto the AFR 100 Pan-African agreement recognizing the severity of land degradation. It has committed itself to restoring 5.3 million hectares of rangeland. The World Resources Institute (WRI) assisted the government in identifying potential restoration sites and is using the Amboseli program as a template for scaling up nationally. WRI is keen to work with ACC in designing the national program. I gave a talk to WRI in Washington DC in October and suggested the need for a national restoration strategy, modelled on the National Wildlife Conservation Strategy the ACC is coordinating on behalf of the Ministry of Environment. WRI partnered ACC’s preparation of Kenya’s Natural Capital: A Biodiversity Atlas. As a follow up of the October meeting, WRI will fund ACC to draw up a national restoration strategy under the Ministry of the Environment and in collaboration with the Rangeland Association of Kenya.