An ambitious planting initiative was proposed by Mara Elephant Project partner, Seedballs Kenya, to distribute over one million seed balls in the Mara in one day! The proposal was generously funded by Diamond Trust Bank and MEP was asked to join as one of the key stakeholders of wildlife conservation in the greater Mara ecosystem and beyond.
The goal of seed ball distribution in Kenya is to improve biodiversity and work against deforestation that may leads to the destruction of wildlife breeding areas and corridors in Mara. The planting initiative’s goal is to improve and increase the forest cover in areas that have been cleared for illegal charcoal production. The idea for this was to reengage the community by paying them to distribute seed balls in hopes that they’ll see a benefit financially for the reforestation of the land that isn’t directly from charcoal production.
MEP working closely with Seedballs Kenya, engages with the community in the Mara that lies on the most affected areas due to charcoal burning. These communities are at a higher risk to experience climatic change due to deforestation. The targeted village is commonly known as Olkiu/Ngosuani in Lemek. The MEP team recruited these communities at the most risk and the idea was well received and actually appreciated by the community. The agreement was simple, we’ll pay you to distribute the seed balls, $11 (1,100 KSH) for the day, and afterwards the trees belong to the community for their basic sustainable usage.
So, on November 28, the MEP team, including C.E.O. Marc Goss, myself and rangers along with the Seedballs Kenya and Diamond Trust Bank teams showed up with the goal to distribute one million seed balls along with the community’s help, that’s 2,000 kg worth! We were delighted to find the community all showed up in their traditional Maasai colorful attire and were energetic and ready to make this happen! The energy was electric as the activity begun with harmony and togetherness among the over 100 participants.
Each community member received bags of seed balls and after a brief demonstration on how to distribute them, they were sent to reforest the Mara.
MEP C.E.O. Marc Goss used the Karen Blixen Camp Ree Park Safari helicopter to distribute seed balls from the air, MEP rangers all took to the ground and led community teams in distribution. Overall, we covered a 50-acre area on the ground and 800 acres by air. It was such an amazing sight to see everyone working together to make the Mara green again! A major thanks must go out to Diamond Trust Bank for funding this initiative and Seedballs Kenya for bringing MEP into this exciting activity!
“It was absolutely amazing all around, there was so much good will and support from the local community. They are living with the negative effects of forest degradation and many of them said they remember how this area used to be much more forested and lush many years ago and they very much hope to return it to how it was. MEP was key to this happening … we can’t thank you guys enough for all of your amazing work in this eco-system. It is phenomenal that Diamond Trust Bank is willing to be so forward looking in regard to investing in a better environment – we hope this really helps pave the way forward to showing how the private sector can become more engaged in landscape scale eco-system rehabilitation and protection.” Teddy Kinyanjui, Founder Seeballs Kenya
In the end, over one million seed balls were distributed across this devastated landscape. The community really appreciated and congratulated MEP, Seedballs Kenya and Diamond Trust Bank for investing in the reforestation of their land. When Kenyan companies, NGOs and communities all work together to make Kenya a better place for both animals and people, everyone wins!