Earth Optimism aims to fundamentally shift how we frame the narrative about our planet – from doom and gloom to optimism and opportunity.
Mikoko Pamoja is selling carbon credits from mangroves to save the environment and local livelihoods in Kwale. The villages of Gazi and Makongeni can now boast of clean drinking water, more fish in the ocean, and better schools. A first in the world to verified by Plan Vivo standards, Mikoko Pamoja is indeed a triple win: for people, for environment, and for biodiversity.
BRINGING GRASS BACK
Global warming and persistent droughts cause land degradation in many African areas. The top layer of the soil becomes hard, which prevents rainwater from infiltrating into the soil. This rainwater will flow to lower areas, and wash away the upper layer of fertile soil.
International NGO Justdiggit, together with local partner MWCT ánd Maasai communities, dug a total of 116,248 semi-circular bunds in the Kuku Group Ranch to open up this hard top layer, and retain the rainwater. By capturing rainwater with the help of bunds, it has more time to enter the soil and restores the water balance. The seeds in the soil get the chance to sprout, and eventually allow the area to grow green, lush and cool!
The community in Kikuyu has taken a stand in conserving Ondiri wetland from encroachment and pollution. And now grey crowned cranes are back – there are two adults with chicks in the wetland -, and community’s effort is being recognized. The wetland has now been identified for gazettement by Kenya government in its effort to safeguard wetlands; Ondiri is the headwaters of the Nairobi River.
CREATING A SAFE HAVEN
Rungiri Dam in Kabete, formed out of a quarry left during the construction of Nairobi-Nakuru highway. And for many years, the dam has been infamous for suicides and killings. At the start of the Covid 19 lockdown in 2020, Friends of Rungiri, a youth-led initiative decided to change that narrative, turning the dam into a recreational facility for people to enjoy. Now visitors can come for picnic, or for boat ride, and in future go birding here.
RESTORING FORESTS (BRACKENHURST)
25 year ago, Brackenhurst was an exotic-trees jungle barren with no life. Today, an indigenous African forest stands tall, teaming with numerous birds (over 150 species), and monkeys that call Brackenhurst home. And, the air is clean and welcoming, increasing the health value for those who visit the facility. This initiative demonstrates the importance of investing in restoration. While the forest is on private land, its open for local communities to access and enjoy.
CONSERVING NGARE NDARE FOREST
The upland dry forest West of Mt Kenya is a gem local community are proud to conserve. Through the Ngare Ndare Forest Trust – a model Community Forest Association–, the community is headed for self-sustenance, with benefits reaching lowland communities, and supporting wildlife including elephants.
George is passionate about grey crowned cranes and their conservation in his home area of Lake Olbolossat. Over the years, George has inspired his community in the saving the crane, and the wetland habitats this iconic and magnificent bird depends on. Today Lake Olbolossat has the highest number of breeding pairs and second largest population of cranes in Kenya. The birds’ habitat – Lake Olbolossat, a designated Important Bird Area -, was recently gazetted as a protected wetland by the Kenya government.
TECHNOLOGY TO FIGHT WILDLIFE CRIME
This fascinating work is a response to a festering problem. For many years, wildlife authorities in Kenya could be prosecute effectively offenders suspected of poaching animal or plant materials, because these materials were in indiscernible forms or shapes. Not anymore. Using technology, prosecutors in collaboration with the authorities can admit DNA evidence in court leading to nearly 100% conviction.
Judith Mirembe is passionate about birds. She takes us through her work on conserving Shoebills and their habitat in Mabamba Bay Wetland, Uganda Watch and learn about the very important role of citizen science in conservation.
ALL ABOUT INSECTS
Dr. Perpetra Akite, Makere University Uganda is crazy about the little things that run the world: – insects. A passion that she has nurtured since she was a little girl. In this talk she takes us through this world of insects, their importance and the successes she has had. In 2020 she had a moth species named after her Megaherpystis akiteae – imagine the joy of having your name engraved in science forever!
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