We hope you are all well and safe and would like to share with you an update on our operations during these difficult times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world and is affecting operations in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest more and more. This is a very difficult time for local communities living around the forest, as they are losing their livelihoods from the tourism sector, as well as the range of services that have stopped to contain the spread of the virus.
Many people are staying at home and compensating their usual sources of income with natural resources from the forest. This situation will only aggravate with time, as more people lose their jobs and income. This pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on natural resources. This is a critical time and our team is finding solutions to every new situation coming to us.
We would like to assure you that we are working closely with our partners, Kenya Forest Service and Kenya Wildlife Service to mitigate the increasing impact on forest resources. Our scouts continue to patrol with the KFS and KWS rangers to every corner of the forest and to contain the COVID-19 outside we coordinated response to the pandemic and we have jointly decided, that our scouts, as well as the rangers, will remain in the forest until the pandemic is over. The isolation from their families and social circles is not easy but will protect them, as well as their families and communities. We have ensured a one-month supply of food for our team in the forest as well as basic medication.
Unfortunately, we can only maintain critical activities during this time, which along with law enforcement patrolling includes road clearing to allow the movement of teams in the forest. Road clearing is done in collaboration with the communities and provide much-needed income to families living around the forest. Unfortunately, we have postponed our environmental education programme and other activities with communities until further notice.
We also made the decision to support government efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus and have supported Gede Health Centre with water containers and soap These are being used at the health centre as well as at some critical public places in Gede. We are looking into extending this support to the main health centres around the forest and we are investigating options to support the most vulnerable families if the pandemic hits the coast region uncontrollably. As a team, we are determined to keep supporting the people and the forest that we share this land with.
We will continue to assess the situation and adapt to new circumstances and government directives.
We would like to thank you all for your support over the years that is enabling us to continue working during these difficult times.
With best regards
Friends of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest team
We are delighted to present the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest annual review for 2019. We hope you find it of interest and will agree that Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke has achieved a lot during the year. If you have any difficulty or would prefer it to be emailed please email us email@example.com.
Also if you have queries be in touch or bring them to the annual general meeting on Saturday 28 March at 10 am at the KWS education hall, Gede entrance to the forest.
The Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest are looking to recruit a Finance and Human Resource Officer.
For a detailed job description and more information please see the attached document
The closing date for applications is Wednesday 18th March 2020 .
The Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest is a non-for-profit company limited by guarantee. It looks to support the forest management team and specifically the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and its partners in addressing the problems the forest has.
On Thursday 5 December a group of 40 from the Mount Kenya Trust visited the forest. The group was welcomed at the Gede entrance, by three members from the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest Guides Association (ASFGA), in their recently donated uniform; Kenya Forest Service (KFS) acting ecosystems coordinator, KFS Gede forester, Kenya Wildlife Service’s (KWS) Sargent Tinga, KWS education officer and the Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest’s (FoASF) scouts, liaison officer and field and administrative manager.
After a short briefing the group walked through the forest to the Arabuko swamp, learning about its unique plants and wildlife. At the swamp Sammy Safari – FoASF committee member gave a talk on the forest adjacent communities and projects that have been implemented to halt their need of capitalising on illegal products from the forest. Sammy gave the group some freshly harvested cassava crop from the Songa Mbele self-help group.
Members were driven back to the KWS education centre for presentations. FoASF liaison officer gave a presentation on the work FoASF is undertaking in the forest. The short educational film, created with funding from African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, was shown at the end and received a wonderful reaction from the audience. This was followed by a short talk from Local Ocean Trusts (LOC) project manager Justin Beswick. The Mount Kenya Trust ended the visit by showing their film and giving a presentation on their incredible and broad work. Thank you to KWS and KFS for facilitating the trip and providing rangers and briefings and to LOC and Mount Kenya Trust for involving the forest and FoASF in their expedition.
The Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke’s 10 scouts, liaison officer and field and administrative assistant, visited the Bio-Ken snake farm, Watamu to refresh their memory of the many species of snakes found in Kenya and how to responsibly respond to snake bites.
Clare Taylor and head handler Bonnie covered the dos and don’ts of snake bite treatment and practices and how to handle these situations if encountered when on patrol in the field.
Thank you to the Bio-Ken team for the trip and for the incredible work you do saving lives of so many.
In August 2018 funding was received from Blue Marmalade Supermarket, Watamu, to rent two acres of land by the Arabuko swamp, on the edge of the forest.
Sammy Safari, FoASF committee member and project manager, planned to use this land to grow crops; offer seeds and cheap produce to the forest adjacent communities and to provide a place for people to learn about permaculture and biodiversity conservation issues.
The land was ploughed and planted with maize, green grams and cowpeas. The green grams and cow peas were planted as cover crops and nitrogen fixers to enrich the soil in humus and to provide nitrogen support to the other crops planted there.
In December 2018, the crops began to produce their first harvest and seeds. Maize and cowpeas were sold for 200/- per two kilograms to the local communities (usually sold for 480/- and 500/- respectively in the local stores). Sales of green gram and cowpea seeds started in January, with some being set aside for replanting during the long rains in March. The seeds were also sold at a lower than retail price, to encourage the forest adjacent people to plant their own food and resist the need to harvest illegally from the forest.
The main challenges included unpredictable rains, pests and disease. The long rains arrived two months late and in June 2019 there was an outbreak of disease which devastated the green grams, maize and moringa crops. Sammy Safari informed and consulted the agricultural extension officers from Msabaha research centre in Gede, who stated that the same problem was being observed this season in the area. He advised that the plot be reploughed to stop the spread.
Green gram and cowpea seedlings were set aside for planting in the short November rains. In September 2019, Sammy Safari personally renewed the lease on the two-acre plot. Heavy rainfall in October/November has left the farms near the Arabuko swamp flooded and so the seedlings have not been planted. Sammy hopes for a more productive 2020.
Thank you to Blue Marmalade for their support and moreover for their recent donation of 10,000/- on a monthly basis.