Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest
The Friends of Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (FoASF) is a working group that advocate for the conservation of the forest through participatory approaches. The membership of FoASF is drawn from people from the local community, from academia, business sector, researchers, individuals and members of the community who are passionate about the conservation and sustainability of the forest.
FoASF was launched in 1999 and active until 2007. Unfortunately, the focus diminished and in 2014 the forest came under threat after a company called CAMAC Energy (now Erin Energy) announced the planning of two transects across the forest to conduct seismic surveys for oil and gas. It was at this point it was decided to protect this unique and internationally renowned forest by re-launching the FoASF.
The official re-launch of FoASF was on Wednesday 30 March 2016 in the forest.
Both 2016 and 2017 were years of preparation, progress and goal setting for a revitalised FoASF; a year in which a number of goals were set and many achievements made. Moves were made throughout 2017 and 2018 to raise the profile of the forest through public awareness efforts, along with the creation and strengthening of relationships within KWS and KFS, without whose cooperation nothing would have been possible.
The Arabuko-Sokoke Forest (ASF) is recognised as one of Kenya’s most valuable natural assets and has been ranked as the second most important forest for conservation of threatened bird species in Africa. The ASF is also part of the East African Coastal Forest complex that ranks amongst the top 25 global biodiversity hotspots, covering a total area of 420 square kilometers.
With four endemic butterfly species, six globally threatened bird species, 50 globally or nationally rare plant species, three species of mammal, which are globally threatened and approximately 150 elephant, this is truly an irreplaceable ecosystem.
The friends work with like-minded people for the conservation of the forest ecosystem for enhanced ecosystems services for humanity and more so the communities dwelling adjacent to the forest.
Chairman – Leading Malindi high court advocate and environmentalist Tukero Ole Kina. He is also a firm believer in sustainable conservation and the importance of the relationship between humans, animals and the land.
Vice-chairman – Ray Muremi is a successful businessman in Malindi, owning and running a printing company and a popular restaurant.
Treasurer – Lissa Ruben’s background is in film production both in the UK and in Africa. She is also a renowned conservationist with much experience. She was born in Kenya and has lived most of her life here
Secretary – Deborah Goodhart – was a communications specialist in the health sector in London also headed up fundraising for the last hospital she worked for. Previous to working in the health service Deborah worked in advertising and public relations in London and New Zealand. She was born in Kenya and has returned to live in Malindi.
Sammy Safari a community liaison officer in the Mida Area. He has been working at Local Ocean Trust for some years. Living adjacent to the Arabuko Sokoke Forest he has learned a lot about the forest and elephants as well as taking care of resources for the present and future generations.
Andrew McNaughton lives in Watamu and is a full-time artist who finds most of his materials – plastic flipflops, lighters, toothbrushes and driftwood – washed up on the beach. He works with recycling of Marine Waste.
Lynn Njuguna is a research assistant at KWS at Gede. She collects data in the field and evaluates and monitors projects in the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest.
Dr Rose Kigathi is the current editor of the Horticultural Association of Kenya Journal and is employed by Pwani University under the Department of Biological Sciences, where she does research in ecology. Rose is currently developing projects to continue looking after the role of biodiversity of plants and microbes and their effect on the functioning of natural agricultural ecosystems.
Johnson Kafulo is a forest guide and the current chairman of the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest guides association.