Fence Realignment, Forest Land Regained

Ruaka River Falls

           Ruaka River Waterfall

Newly regained forest land

Regained land as seen from the top of the falls

A realignment of a northern section of the Karura Forest Reserve boundary fence has regained nearly six hectares of rolling forest land and given access to a beautiful waterfall on the Ruaka River.

When the Friends of Karura Community Forest Association was formed in 2009, the first job was to secure the perimeter by raising CSR (corporate social responsibility) funding for some 10 km of electric fence (half the forest perimeter, the other was already protected by upmarket northern Nairobi house security fencing).

The Board of the newly formed association was eager to show the communities surrounding the forest, especially the low-income ones that “we come in peace.” The Board pursued the time-honored strategy to “turn poachers into game wardens”: hence today’s dedicated cadre of Forest Scouts and groups of casual workers, most of whom come from the Mji wa Huruma informal settlement on the forest’s northern boundary.

Since the new fencing limited Haruma’s access to the Ruaka River, FKF and KFS decided to leave the community a reachable parcel of land on the forest side of the river. The idea was to encourage and find support for community-based enterprises, such as fish-farming, a bio-based water purifying plant, an indigenous nursery, and bee-keeping. Although support was duly provided, only the bee-keeping took off, but not in the excised parcel.  The land laid waste and virtually unused for nearly a decade.

Thus the KFS-FKF Joint Management Committee decided to reclaim the land, realign the fence, and open to visitors the area with its interesting topography, rocky outcrops and an exciting ‘new’ waterfall. A friendly Ruaka neighbor has kindly afforded access to the waterfall for visitors and, importantly, wildlife, by allowing the new fence to attach to his security wall corners.

After several meetings with Huruma community leaders, accord was reached to find ways and means to help the neighboring community in more ways, additional sanitation and ablution facilities, for example, using revenues from forest visitor entry fees.

Haruma Village

            Mji wa Huruma as seen from the Karura Forest side south of the Ruaka River

New Fence Alignment

               Showing northern fence realignment and area regained for the forest