- Kwale is one of the counties experiencing increased damage of natural forests through the rapid growth of human activities.
- The project aims at escalating the protection of fragile ecosystems like terrestrial and mangrove forests for biodiversity and sustainable use.
Kwale residents are slowly turning to the use of briquettes charcoal to help conserve the environment and achieve the 10 per cent forest cover.
The residents make the briquettes through manual and electrical briquette machines donated by World Wide Fund for nature organisation.
The residents, who work in groups, are now engaged in active tree planting on huge acres of land and have adopted the pruning techniques to make charcoal.
Several activities have also been taken by WWF in partnership with the Kenya Forests Services and other stakeholders in training the residents on modern methods of charcoal production to spearhead conservation.
They mostly target the charcoal producers and sellers as part of the efforts in improving the community's livelihoods and living standards through environmental management.
The select few later train colleagues who also spread the knowledge to others at the grassroots level.
Kwale is one of the counties experiencing increased damage of natural forests through the rapid growth of human activities.
The project aims at escalating the protection of fragile ecosystems like terrestrial and mangrove forests for biodiversity and sustainable use.
The beneficiaries, led by Cyprian Muchiri Samuel, said they use cow dung with other waste materials to make the briquettes, which reduces the over dependence on trees as the only source of fuel.
The waste includes used newspaper materials and charcoal dust that are mixed with animal faeces.
"We grind some little charcoal and combine it with cow dung in the ratio of 10:5 plus water before drying them," he said.
The charcoal are later used for cooking while others are sold to the local hotels. A kilogramme goes for Sh50.
Samuel said the briquettes take one to two days for proper drying before they can be used depending on the strength of the sunlight.
He said they are safe for human health since they produce little smoke and burn for a longer period, unlike charcoals that burn quickly hence consuming more trees.
Perani resident Matheka Kingo Kieti said the briquettes machines have helped reduce tree cutting because charcoal are less required.
He added that the briquettes are effective for domestic and commercial use because of their ability to burn for long.
"They can serve you for about six hours without going off. Imagine how much you can save in terms of buying cooking fuel," he said.
Kieti, who is a Kwale Forest Fuel Conservation Association member, said more than 300 others have so far received the briquette-making skills in his area.
He said they are currently improving their lives as they produce the briquettes for sale and consumption.
South Coast Forest Owner Association member from Perani, Samy Mutua, said the briquette-making technique has empowered residents and jobless community members have embraced the knowledge to boost their socio-economic activities.
Mutua said as a group they have planted more than 400 trees on 25 acres of land, both indigenous and exotic.
They mostly prune them for charcoal and briquette making since the ban on forest cutting is still effective.
"As a way of supporting forest conservation, we trim excess tree branches and use them to make a small amount of charcoal that can be made for briquettes production," he said.
Another member, Chizi Kilango, said they no longer destroy the forests for firewood but grow the trees to prevent further annihilation of natural forests.
She urged other Kwale residents to adopt the use of briquettes for cooking to promote environmental conservation.
(edited by Amol Awuor)