Sowing the Seeds for a Healthier Rangeland

November 15, 2013

Joanna O’Brien joined NRT’s CEO and guests from The Nature Conservancy to participate in West Gate’s grass seed planting in early November. This is her report:

At last the long awaited rains have arrived in Kenya and communities in the arid lands of the northern rangelands look up to the skies hoping for a long and fruitful rainy season.

For the members of Westgate Community Conservancy it is a particularly busy time of year as they join together to actively improve the quality of the grasslands.

Volunteers from the community were joined by the CEO of Northern Rangelands Trust, Mike Harrison and guests from The Nature Conservancy, to plant grass seeds as part of an initiative to restore degraded areas of the conservancy.

Over three days more than 300 men, women and children from the conservancy joined forces in planting 80 sacks of grass seed covering an area of more than 100 acres.

The grass seed originated from Ruko Conservancy near Lake Baringo and has been successfully sown and harvested by the people of Westgate Community Conservancy for the past 3 years.

In restoring the grassland the pastoralists not only provide better grazing for their livestock but they also improve the habitat for the endangered Grevy’s zebra. Westgate is proud to be the protector of 20% of the world’s population of Grevy’s zebra.

The seed planting was an opportunity for people from all over the community to come together, some walking many miles with those from further afield picked up in conservancy vehicles. The laughter and chatter did not detract from the importance of the event. Westgate Chairman, Ltepesuan Lesachore explained, ‘since the Conservancy was created we have learned the importance of looking after our grasslands and managing the grazing. We can now share our knowledge with others and our grassland restoration is so successful that we have produced enough grass seed to sell to other conservancies.’

At the end of the day the volunteers were tired but satisfied with a job well done and enjoyed sweet tea and goat stew provided by the community HQ before the long trek home.