Regional Forestry Sectors

We have worked in East African forestry for more than 15 years – transferring technology and establishing independent commercial nurseries in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.  We are now ramping up our activity by establishing programmes to transform forestry sectors across the region.

Regional Forestry Sectors
Regional Forestry Sectors
Regional Forestry Sectors
Regional Forestry Sectors

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Kenya’s forestry sector is central to its economy and its future.  Five key forests regulate 75% of the country’s renewable water supplies, while more than 80% of the energy generated in Kenya comes from wood.  Forests support the livelihoods of millions of Kenyans and are home to a huge variety of animal and plant species, many of which cannot be found elsewhere.

As Kenya’s population and economy grows, the demand for fuelwood and construction materials, such as sawn timber, is accelerating.  However, Kenya is only able to meet about 70% of this demand through sustainable domestic supply.  The annual deficit of 12 million m3 is met by formal and informal imports plus unsustainable extraction from natural forests, with deforestation running at about 12,000ha per year.  This will only get worse: population growth, industrialisation and urbanisation are predicted to increase demand to 66 million m3 by 2030, while sustainable supply is projected to stay almost static.  This would see the annual deficit nearly treble to 34.4 million m3. 

The consequences for Kenya’s environment and economy in such a scenario would be severe.  Therefore the country desperately needs to transform its commercial forestry sector – relieving the pressure on natural forests, fuelling sustainable economic growth, and creating jobs and increased incomes for hundreds of thousands of people.

Gatsby is establishing a programme to support this transformation.  It will make a variety of interventions along the value chain and in supportive markets, partnering with different public and private players to:

  • Improve returns for commercial growers of all sizes;
  • Enhance profitability and employment in wood processing; and
  • Secure the sustainable supply of commercial services and collaborative research. 

The programme will initially work in three areas:

  1. Finding and supporting the right independent institutions to form strategies for providing services to the sector, such as setting standards, providing training and coordinating collaborative research.
  2. Engaging commercial players to design and pilot longer term market development activities, such as working with industrial buyers of fuelwood to create more inclusive value chain arrangements between producers, processors and end-users.
  3. Realising an enabling policy environment while addressing the forest financing gap through targeted analysis and regular dialogue with key stakeholders.

This work builds on Gatsby’s programme in the Tanzanian forestry sector – part of Gatsby’s 15+ years’ experience in East African forestry, which began when Gatsby and the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA) facilitated a public-private partnership in Kenya in 1996.

In this partnership, the private player Mondi donated fast-growing eucalyptus clones which were used to establish a central tree nursery on government-owned land at Karura, near Nairobi.  Mondi trained the Karura nurserymen to establish the necessary expertise in tissue culture and clonal technology, while the Kenya Forestry Research Institute trained extension staff and private nursery operators in order to stimulate demand for the technology and clones at grassroots level.  

Due to the successful transfer of the technology, Gatsby went on to support similar initiatives in Uganda and Tanzania, where Mondi and ISAAA worked with the National Research Organisation and the Tanzania Forestry Research Institute respectively.

Trials in all three countries were established in different agro-ecological zones and the results have been used by governments and the private sector to inform species selection for afforestation efforts. The programmes have also successfully propagated the clones for sale to smallholders, private nurseries and, increasingly, to privately-owned plantation companies.

In Kenya, the project has evolved into an independent public-private trust, the Tree Biotechnology Programme Trust, and produces an estimated 3.5 million clonal seedlings annually. In Uganda the project has recently registered as a commercial company, Uganda Tree Resources Ltd, which Gatsby continues to support.