Friday, May 15, 2009

For walkers, cyclists, joggers and picnicers: Nairobi gets its forest back

Source: www.kenyakidz.com (reproduced here without permission, I hope it is fine, since the announcement is a bit urgent)

A high-powered alliance of environmentalists, diplomats and parastatals will this week deliver Karura Forest back to Nairobi: safe, beautiful and ready for family rambling and picnics.

The Karura Forest, which spans from the Old Kiambu Road to Limuru Road on the western side of the city, is venue for a grand opening this Saturday 16th May at 10am, to unveil a 4km nature trail, now cleared, staffed, and ready for walkers, joggers and cyclists.

At the instigation of Kenya Forest Service, and with the support of the Friends of Karura, led by the British High Commissioner’s wife Alice Macaire and William Wambuga of the Nairobi Arboretum, the project to restore the forest to use has also drawn on the advice of Kenya’s Nobel prize-winning environmentalist Prof. Wangari Maathai.

Sited alongside the Kitathuru River, the trail had been closed for many years, with no-one going there, said Alice. But it has now been cleared and made safe, and permanently staffed by forest guards. “It’s incredibly beautiful and amazing.”

Transport and guides will also be available for people exploring the deeper forest - the 50 foot waterfall, the famous "Father of Trees", Mau-Mau caves, 50 kms of nature trails through a forest filled with wildlife, a marshland perfect for bird watching, a bamboo jungle, three rivers, a camp site, a historical church hidden deep in a clearing in the wood and many stunning places to picnic.

We want people to come, see the amazing scenery and fall in love with it so that we can work together to make it safe for all Nairobi kids,” said Alice.

After the grand opening, it is only the 4km trail that will be open to visit at any time. Exploring the caves, water falls, and other nature trails will require bookings to get Forest guards. The Friends of Karura are however working hard to get the forest to the point where it will be safe throughout. “This (the opening of the trail) is our first step,” said Alice.

We want to make it safe so that in the future kids can go to the camp site and stay there and learn about the forest.”

There are caves in the forest where people used to go and pray but the pastor of Karura says they have not been there for the last five years.

As the rehabilitation of the forest continues, “we are incredibly lucky to have professional people including the British High commission, UNEP, William of Arboretum, and people who have seen how it’s successfully done, and we shall also include the local community,” said Alice.

We want people to be able to wake up on a lovely Saturday morning, go up and have a picnic and let the kids run around safely.”

Those attending the grand opening will meet at the Old Kiambu Road Entrance to the Karura Forest, for short inauguration speeches from the Minister for Forestry and Wildlife, Dr. Noah Wekesa, The British High Commissioner, The Director of Kenya Forest Service and the Pastor of Karura.


"It will be wonderful because we shall also have kids of Karura Primary, a school that is inside the forest singing for the people,” said Alice.

Alice encourages all to come and discover the trail: “you will love it”.

Written by Rose Muragu for African Laughter

1 comment:

Mo said...

Yay! I can't wait to go hiking there. Probably sometime in June. This is awesome.