By Hellen Awino
Indigenous trees play a big role in the environment and the ecosystem.
However, cutting them down for various uses has led to serious repercussions including climate change which is now a menace globally.
A group of women in Majimboni village, Kilifi County have been depending on the indigenous trees from Kaya forests for the production of their herbal medicines.
Naomi Katana is a beneficiary of herbal medicines produced by the group.
She says had been on medication for a very long time since she could not bear a child.
“After I consumed these herbal medicines, I gave birth to eight children” she says.
The women use the roots, barks and leaves of trees to make their concoctions.
“We are taught how to dig, clean, grind and make the medicine. I am now a qualified traditional doctor.” Beatrice Sulubu reveals.
They say the knowledge to make the medicines was passed to them by their forefathers.
The Ufanisi Conservation Group has moved away from harvesting the trees from the forests and instead established a trees on farm system.
They are fighting against deforestation as well as mitigating climate change by planting the indigenous trees in their farms.
About 20 acres of land is under various species of the indigenous trees.
When the trees are grown, they harvest parts of the trees to extract herbal medicines which they sell to locals in their small shop in the village.
The project is supported by the Kenya Forest and Research institute (KEFRI) and other environmental organizations including World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Kenya) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
“We must plant seedlings to prevent cutting of trees and to ensure that people do not destroy our forests so we volunteer to plant trees for people.” Says Salome Juma the chairlady of Ufanisi group.
She added that they also gave out seedlings to those who readily offered their farms for planting trees.
WWF-Kenya project officer Neema Suya, says the project was aimed to protect Kaya forests from destruction.
“With the project we are able to conserve the forests which are gazetted as National Heritage but at the same time the community earn a living from the conservation activities” she notes.
They encouraged residents to plant more trees especially in their residential areas.
“We as the forestry department have collaborated with these communities to help them organize projects that can assist in conserving forests. “ says Linus Wekesa who is KEFRI Coast region coordinator .
Such projects will help in protection of forests against human activities and invasion by local people.