Mining with Nature – Working with the Community in Forest Management

The value of engaging local communities in conservation has intensified during this time of climate change. Resilience and mitigation strategies to address the impacts of unpredictable weather and natural disasters for both people and wildlife require collaborations at the landscape level and beyond. Vulnerable people living adjacent to the forest are deeply dependent on the natural forest resource for their livelihoods and therefore stand to lose the most. 

In 2014, Base Titanium (a company mining heavy minerals in Kwale County) collaborated with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and initiated community empowerment projects within neighbouring Gogoni Forest. 

One of their critical undertakings is the propagation of indigenous trees to help with maintaining biodiversity and mitigating climate change. Combining the rich local knowledge with conservation and field training equips community groups with hands-on tree propagating experience. Once propagation knowledge is passed on, the community takes over. 

Another project is the propagation of bamboo, which plays a vital role in protecting soils and watershed areas. The increased bamboo production by communities around the forest reduces pressure on natural resources. 

Similarly, vetiver grass is suitable for erosion and sediment control because of its ability to slow runoff, giving rainfall a better chance of soaking into the soil. Gogoni-Gazi community Forest Association (CFA), through Base Titanium support, is among the leading community groups in vetiver supply within the coastal region. 

In 2019, through Base Titanium assistance, the Gogoni-Gazi CFA acquired butterfly rearing permits from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The CFA then acquired skills in food plants identification and trapping techniques.The pupae are exported to international butterfly houses in Europe and America. 

Lastly, to strengthen livelihoods, the communities surrounding Base Titanium have been introduced to beekeeping. Communities now understand how bees improve pollination and thus increase crop yield. Support includes the provision of beehives, beekeeping clothes and honey harvesting equipment