Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eco-Trail Blazing Through Shimoni Forest

I write to you with very tired legs, blistered hands and aching arms, but with good news! Today we headed out in to Shimoni Forest to help members of Friends of Shimoni Forest plan, cut and tag the trail that we hope they will be taking tourists on!

Friends of Shimoni Forest have been planning these guided tours through the forest for a while now, and it is exciting to be putting the plan in to action. The idea is to take tourists on walks in to the forest to visit the scared Kaya forest shrines and experience the amazing biodiversity.

The day had its moments of sadness and frustration as we confirmed our fears that it was simply not possible to take a route to the Kayas without passing through swathes of destruction. The areas of prime mature forest are becoming increasingly fragmented and patchy. This was expected though and attempting to manoeuvre tourists through only untouched forest would have been covering up a problem that we need to raise awareness of. This way they will see both sides; the results of over-exploitation and unsustainable resource use and the amazing coastal forest as it should be.

Raising awareness of the forest and the issues that confront it is one of the most important roles we can take. Guided walks will not only show visitors what is happening but we hope will feedback in to the local community that will be guiding the tourists. In addition we hope it will generate valuable revenue for Friends of Shimoni Forest to fund activities such as forest patrols, tree planting, school scholarships and training in alternative, sustainable livelihoods for those that currently feel they have no economic option but to exploit their resources for the short term benefit, such as the charcoal burning we witnessed below.



Sara Mayer said...

very exciting stuff, guys! so glad to hear that the trails are being marked now so that tourists who come down for the marine park visits can now also see the important forests in the area as well! i would love to bring my friends on a tour when they visit - keep us posted on when you're ready for visitors!