REDD+ Project Changes Lives for Women and Youth
Kenya loses significant forest area each year through deforestation. Demand for fuelwood, timber products and charcoal, as well as population and infrastructure pressures and the conversion of forest to agricultural land have led to dramatic climate change impacts in the country.
However, the country’s forest cover has been improving in recent years, in part due to the REDD+ readiness activities under way in Kenya, which have educated women and youth across the country on the importance of forest preservation.
The Government of Kenya, in collaboration with the UN-REDD Programme, has embarked on a process to develop Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) Guidelines for Kenya – the first of their kind in Africa. Indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities, including women and youth, are the central drivers of this multi-stakeholder process. Their engagement is essential to the success of REDD+ in Kenya because the majority of remaining forests are located where they live, and also because they have played a major historical and cultural role in the sustainable management of forests for centuries.
The REDD+ project has been a life-changer because previously, communities were left out of the conversation around tree planting effortsTecla Chiumba
“The REDD+ project has been a life-changer because previously, communities were left out of the conversation around tree planting efforts,” says Tecla Chiumba, treasurer with the National Alliance of Community Forest Associations in Kenya. She says that women and youth are now involved in forest conservation, tree planting both in forests and on their own farms, as well as in developing and implementing innovative wood product ventures to generate income.
“Forest communities are very happy, and there are now a lot of women and youth active in conservation,” she says. “Replanting efforts and REDD+ activities have not only meant preserving forests, but have also allowed us to get firewood from the trees on our farms, not in faraway forests, and it has brought water closer to us. This saves us time and dramatically improves our lives as women.”
Many young people across the country involved with REDD+ now have their own woodlots on family farms, allowing them to earn a living by planting trees and selling seedlings to nurseries. “They have formed groups and gotten jobs,” says Chiumba. “It has changed their lives completely.”
We have realized the importance of trees. Unless we plant trees, we won’t have water and we can’t sustain life.Tecla Chiumba
Utilizing the knowledge they have acquired through the UN-REDD Programme’s support, forest communities in Kenya will continue planting trees, conserving what they have and creating non-wood products such as beehives and mushrooms to conserve the forest while also generating income and employment, according to Chiumba. “We have realized the importance of trees. Unless we plant trees, we won’t have water and we can’t sustain life.”