The delicate balance of the Mara ecosystem is threatened by deforestation, population growth, land conversion to agriculture, livestock overgrazing, and the introduction of non-native plant species. The Maa Trust is launching a project to restore an area of Savannah through the planting of indigenous species to revive a portion of this thriving ecosystem. The project will be based at The Maa Trust (TMT) headquarters which borders Olare Motorogi Conservancy (OMC), Naboisho Conservancy, and the Maasai Mara National Reserve. The region supports a semi-arid savanna grassland ecosystem, which acts as a vital buffer between the Mara Reserve and the wildlife dispersal areas that surround it.
The project aims to:
Restore 70 acres of degraded savanna habitat, with the potential to expand and link to other Mara restoration projects;
Create a "model" restoration plan that can be studied scientifically;
Assess the restoration project's effect on biodiversity, land, water, and microclimate;
The restoration project will serve as a pilot for a "community conservation effort" in the region.
The restoration project will be part of the Trust's community-led programmes, which include 600 women involved in Maa beadwork, 100 women in Maa honey, and 40 youths in brick making and building. These women and men will become ‘ambassadors’ for tree planting in the region.
On Tuesday, TMT employees launched the initiative by planting trees around their offices. Every employee was given the opportunity to plant a tree. The event was organised by Harrison Nabaala, Restoration Project Manager.
"According to Wangari Maathai, until you dig a hole, you plant a tree, you water it and make it survive, you haven't done a thing. I'm pleased that The Maa Trust has taken the first step towards restoring the Savanna habitat. It demonstrates our dedication to the environment, wildlife, and community. If we work together, we can achieve whatever we set our minds to." Faith Kaesha, Administrator, The Maa Trust.
To achieve its goal of restoring the Savanna ecosystem, The Maa Trust is working with universities in Kenya and the United Kingdom to develop a model that will be the subject of a scientific study. As a result, a scientific group comprised of professors from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Mount Kenya University (MKU), and Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was formed to develop and design research topics for the master's projects. The project will demonstrate how such a conservation effort will successfully reintroduce a wide range of bird, insect, invertebrate, and small mammal species.
"We restore the Savannah environment not because we are wild, but because we are a part of this ecosystem and depend on the resources it provides. The Maa Trust team is well aware of this and is eager to lead the way in tree planting. As the tree grows, we'll tag every employee's name to give them a sense of ownership and to inspire them to care for and protect it. " Harrison Nabaala.
The next step in this project is to gather the necessary resources to make the tree-planting process go more smoothly. These resources include the development of an underground tank to store water for tree nursery operations, the extension of existing elephant fencing to cover a 25-acre area to prevent wildlife destruction, and the digging of a wildlife water pond. To take advantage of the April rains, TMT will begin planting fast-growing acacia trees, especially along pathways and near buildings. These acacias will be sourced locally until our tree nursery is ready.
We are grateful to our partners for their contributions towards the Maasai Mara savanna ecosystem restoration.