I&M Bank Foundation Kenya partners with Kenya Forest Service in Ngong Road Forest Restoration

I&M Foundation, KFS Announce Three-Year Ngong Road Forest Restoration Project
Project set to develop forest infrastructure and relieve pressure on Karura.

I&M Foundation and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) announced the signing of a partnership agreement for the restoration of the Ngong Road Forest at the KFS Headquarters on Kiambu Road. The I&M Foundation will invest KES 162 million, over a period of 3 years to complete the 3 phased project. The three phases of the project comprise of Fencing & Infrastructure rehabilitation, Restoration of degraded forest areas & Scaling of seedling production and Mobility and Security facilitation.

The key initiatives include the fencing of the sanctuary section of Ngong Road Forest; a 14-kilometre stretch across the informal settlement of Kibera and the Southern Bypass at Karen, construction of a modern ablution block at the Kibera boundary to relieve stress on the water resources of the sanctuary, provision of a motorable internal security trail, growing of trees in the degraded forest areas, scaling up the nursery for seedling production, construction of living quarters for rangers and the restoration of event grounds.

Speaking from the KFS Head Office, Group Executive Director, I&M Group PLC and I&M Foundation Director, Mr. Sarit Raja-Shah said, “The restoration of the Ngong Road Forest is of significant importance to us given our commitment to Environmental Conservation for which we have so far invested over Ksh 60 million through the I&M Foundation in Kenya over the last 3 years. This project will not only be a restoration of a major ecosystem but will also provide Nairobi residents with a safe space for social and physical activities like walking, running and hosting private events. Sustainability is at the heart of our business and we selected this project in recognition of the need to safeguard the country’s natural forests as well as the readiness of KFS led by the Chief Conservator of Forests, Alex Mr. Lemarkoko to embark on this journey guided by data, transparency and mutual trust.”

I&M Bank recognizes that to realize the transition to sustainable urban communities, stakeholders must develop holistic interventions which address multiple problem areas. This flagship project will lend itself to the global United Nations SDG goals 11, 13 and 15 towards sustainable cities and communities, climate action and life on land.
The 2019 National Census put Nairobi’s burgeoning population at over 4.3 million. This rapid urbanization has brought with it increased demands on the city’s urban forests including beekeeping, fuel, wood, water, ecotourism and recreation. Additionally, the threats of exposure to pollutants and illegal logging prevail.

I&M Bank Kenya CEO, Gul Khan while speaking at the signing ceremony remarked, “This project is especially significant for I&M Bank as it is a testament of the ethos and values on which our bank was built on 50 years ago which includes a deep sense for philanthropy that has seen I&M Bank invest in hundreds of corporate social responsibility projects. It is off this legacy that the I&M Foundation was officially registered in 2020 and to which I&M Bank annually sets aside 2% of its Profit Before Tax towards driving our shared value agenda. The I&M Foundation focuses on four key thematic areas: Environmental Conservation, Education & Skills Training, Economic Empowerment and Enabling Giving. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year in May, I am honored to announce that the restoration of the Ngong Road Forest in partnership with KFS is the flagship project of our sustainability agenda.

Nairobi is not exempt from the active threat of increased daily maximum temperatures in many cities across the globe and the importance of expanding our forest cover in reversing this effect of climate change and building community resilience cannot be understated. While the KFS run Karura Forest has done an excellent job so far in mitigating the climate risks brought on by Nairobi’s rapid urbanization, the park’s geographical area, natural and human resources are stressed, owing to the high traffic in the park and overcrowding of trees.

At the same event, the KFS Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Alex Lemarkoko, lauded I&M Foundation’s approach saying, “We have found a partner that values a transparent and participatory process in the delivery of this project whose primary objectives are to combat climate change, conserve a vital ecosystem in our city and provide relief to Karura forest from a social recreation perspective.” He added, “Ngong Road Forest has the potential to become a formidable contemporary to Karura Forest, which has served us all well for decades but is beginning to suffer the consequences of our population burst. I&M Bank through the I&M Foundation has set the standard for corporate organizations in Kenya to step up and join hands with public sector stakeholders in securing a sustainable future for the posterity of future generations.”

The Constitution of Kenya 2010, the Kenya Vision 2030, the National Forest Programme and other national development blueprints stipulate that forest cover be at least 10% of the Country’s land area. At only 8.3%, we are well below the constitutional requirement.

Further to this, the Government of Kenya set a new target of achieving a tree cover of 30% of the country’s land area by 2032 and KFS is mandated with enhancing the development, conservation and management of the National Forest resources. The agency also assists County Governments to develop and manage forest resources on community and private lands for the equitable benefit of present and future generations.

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