Egerton University plants 200,000 trees in Mau ecosystem

A section of Mau Forest where illegal settlers were evicted from in 2018. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Efforts by Egerton University to conserve the Mau forest have started to bear fruit.

The university lies within the Mau Complex ecosystem, and for the last two decades, it has been rehabilitating the Shururu forest.

Through the Faculty of Environment and Resource Development (FERD), the university together with other partners established the Mau Regional Centre of Excellence (Mau RCE) in 2011 to promote public awareness, education, and training to enhance sustainable development.

In 2012, the university started the ambitious project to conserve River Njoro and part of the Eastern Mau escarpment.

The institution in a report on the status of rehabilitation of the Njoro River noted that they have planted more than 200,000 tree seedlings in partnership with other stakeholders despite facing challenges.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academics, Research and Extension Prof Bernard Aduda noted that approximately 7 kilometres of Njoro River flow through Egerton University towards Njoro Township.

Prof Aduda in the report said in 1999 -2000, the area witnessed a prolonged drought that caused almost 70 per cent of the river to dry up and could not flow beyond the Egerton University bridge.

He said the shortage of water for domestic and livestock use and the alarming levels of pollution were a wake-up call to the university management to institute measures to save the river.

Njoro River Rehabilitation Project Coordinator Prof Charles M M'Erimba said the plan to rehabilitate the Njoro River was conceived in 2011 when the then Egerton University Vice Chancellor, Prof James Tuitoek constituted a team to come up with a rehabilitation plan for the whole river and a budget.

The team began by documenting the challenges faced by the river from upstream to downstream and shared the outcome with the university management board.

Prof M'Erimba explained that the river was zoned into six sections of approximately 10kms from the source to the mouth with Egerton University adopting 25 acres at the source in Entiyani Location, Narok county, and another section along its border with Eriithia, Njokerio, and Ng'ondu communities.

The University Vice Chancellor Isaac Kibwage said during the implementation of the project they faced challenges including dwindling finances, unpredictable rain patterns, vandalism of rehabilitated areas and grazing on newly planted tree seedlings.

“Let me admit that this was an uphill task due to many challenges that were witnessed over that period. Dwindling finances, unpredictable rain patterns, vandalism of rehabilitated areas, grazing on newly planted tree seedlings, and many more,” stated Prof Kibwage.

The VC revealed that the university has managed to secure the source of the river, youth empowerment through tree nursery support and construction of livestock watering troughs.

He noted that the institution's efforts continue to bear fruit with two dumpsites fully rehabilitated.

“The efforts have borne fruits since two dumpsites that existed near the University have been fully rehabilitated and forests established where none existed before, for example, the source of Njoro River in Narok county,” he said.

Prof Kibwage said the community is managing the two dumpsites with the help of the university.

The VC noted that the university has also established more than 20 acres of commercial tree plantation in the last 5 years by continuously engaging staff and students in tree planting.

In November 2023 during National Tree Planting Day he said at least 14,000 tree seedlings were planted in support of the presidential 15 billion tree-growing campaign.

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