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Better Globe

Kiambere 100 hectares pilot project at Lake Kiambere, Kenya

Better Globe started its first fieldwork in Kenya at the end of 2006 at Katithini: a 100 hectares site by Lake Kiambere in eastern Kenya. The Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority (TARDA) owns the land. TARDA has a powerful incentive to entrust the land to Better Globe for afforestation, as Lake Kiambere is one of the major hydro reservoirs for generation of electricity for Kenya.
Kiambere 100ha pilot project at Lake Kiambere, Kenya

The lake is fed by Kenya’s biggest river, the Tana that originates from the slopes of Mount Kenya. Its tributaries find their way to the lowlands through densely populated areas, carrying plenty of soil from erosion. TARDA has a catchment protection programme, but the waters of the river are very brown every rainy season. The situation is compounded by intense erosion around the lake, where thousands of tonnes of soil are washed into the lake after every major downpour. This fills up the dam, decreasing its lifespan, and hence reducing the capacity for provision of affordable electricity.

Better Globe has demonstrated that it can stop erosion on the lakesides completely by planting trees and blocking erosion gullies with thousands of check dams. The tree species planted on this 100 hectares pilot site are mukau (Melia volkensii), neem (Azadirachta indica), Jatropha curcas and, Acacia senegal. Mukau, the principal species for Better Globe, is planted for its superior mahogany-type timber.

Better Globe’s trials have shown that it can be planted year-round, provided it receives adequate care and irrigation. Growth is excellent, with seedlings reaching 3 metres in height after one and a half years.

Better Globe has planted neem for its oil, which is used in biological pesticides, and has medicinal properties. Jatropha curcas, a shrub originally from Latin America, produces fruits with a high oil content suitable for diesel. It is a bio fuel plant, and BGF has engaged in piloting activities regarding management techniques, and trials for different silvicultural treatments.

Better Globe is now in the process of acquiring selected seeds from Acacia senegal in order to establish a trial plantation of different provenances of this species. It produces the valuable gum arabic, a stabilizing agent that has many industrial applications in the food, beverage and printing industries. These species are adapted to the local environment: hot and semi-arid, with irregular rainfall. In particular, Melia volkensii and Acacia senegal are extremely drought resistant.

Better Globe employs between 20 and 80 people in the pilot plantation, depending on the work, which in turn depends on the season. There is overall supervision by Better Globe staff: security is provided by guards to avoid theft from the store and intrusions by livestock that would damage the trees, the nursery, and various plantation works. These works include the whole cycle of land preparation, tree planting, and plantation maintenance. Better Globe is the biggest employer in the area, with payment of salaries signifying an important injection of cash into the local economy.

GPS Coordinates: 0.691755° S 37.912830° E
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