Major restoration initiative for Tana River Delta

Project sets out to restore degraded forest landscapes and reverse biodiversity loss for increased and improved ecosystem services at the delta.

Conservation of the Tana River Delta has been enhanced following the initiation of a new forest landscape restoration project. ‘The Restoration Initiative (TRI) Tana Delta’ funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) seeks to restore degraded forest landscapes in Tana River and Lamu counties. Nature Kenya is the project’s implementing partner.

TRI Tana Delta will implement some elements of the delta’s land use plan which provides for land and water allocation. The Tana Delta land use plan was facilitated by Nature Kenya with support from the Department of International Development (UK) and the Ecosystem Alliance.

TRI Tana Delta will enable local communities, civil society and national and county governments come up with policy and institutional frameworks to implement restorative land use initiatives. The project will build on lessons and experiences of income-generating activities to develop a business case to promote green value chains through private sector engagement. Lessons and experiences will be scaled up at a subset of other sites in Kenya including counties with similar issues like Siaya and Busia counties that share the Yala Swamp.

The Restoration Initiative is a programme to help countries restore degraded landscapes at scale.

Tana River Delta is a vast patchwork of palm savanna, seasonally flooded grassland, forest fragments, acacia woodland, lakes, marine wetlands and the river itself. It is one of the most important wetlands in Africa and a Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in Kenya. The wetland system provides intangible ecosystem services such as regulating the hydrological cycle, moderating climate, protecting soil from erosion, stabilizing the shoreline and reducing the impact of storm surges.

Among the project’s target is to see 95,000 ha of indigenous community conservation areas (CCAs) in the Tana Delta being managed for multiple-use for the benefit of important biodiversity. A CCA is a type of conservancy based on traditional, cultural, and multiple land use under customary management by a community. Also targeted are 130,000 ha of land for sustainable livestock, fish and crop management, and 10,000 ha of degraded landscapes for restoration. The project seeks to have operational livestock, crop and fish farming, ecotourism, beekeeping and other nature-based business cooperatives encouraging their membership to incorporate biodiversity conservation, sustainable land management and restoration in their production processes.

A wide range of stakeholders, including national and county governments’ ministries and departments, community-based organizations, non-government organizations and private investors, will be involved in the implementation process. Each stakeholder is expected to provide specific contributions to the implementation of project activities.

It’s a hopeful time for deltas! In the west of Kenya, the Siaya and Busia county governors have endorsed the Yala Swamp land use plan. The Yala Swamp land use plan seeks to guide present and future development in the swamp without compromising its ecological integrity.