Pungu Wetlands Restoration Event
37° 3' 45" N, 95° 40' 37.4448" W
Amazing: One Day...1200 People... 20,000 Trees!
More People, More Trees, than Ever Before
Last week found the office staff of GWC-Kenya anxiously watching the sky every day, hoping for a break in the rain and then a recommencement of the rain perfectly timed around Thursday, May 15th. The reason for this precise request from the atmosphere? We were holding our biggest planting event EVER in Kenya! Thanks to the sponsorship of the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, the Pungu has become a signature initiative of the Green World Campaign, and one in which the people of the region have invested much hard work and hope.
Remarkably, the rain ceased just as requested, allowing us most of the day on Thursday to plant seedlings. We had 1,182 children from 10 schools, as well as 25 teachers, 11 elders, 25 youth group members, 8 parents or community members, 3 staff from GWC-K, and 2 from the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya.
This comes to a total of 1,258 people!
Children from schools located very close to the watershed walked to the site, while those from farther out rode on buses. They were incredibly excited by the opportunity to engage in an extracurricular activity, to be outside, and to accomplish sometime great for their community. Planting started around 10am, after the oldest community elder (who may be in his 90s!) performed a traditional prayer ritual. He planted a new seedling next to an old, felled tree, symbolizing something new and living rising from what is old and dead. We hope more rituals like this will be held, as the sacred forest surrounding the watershed is restored also.
Once the planting started, the adult community members, especially those from local youth groups, dug the holes for the trees, while the children did most of the planting. Despite their work digging holes, they all still managed to plant around 25 seedlings each. After the children planted and were released around 2:30pm, members of the community and youth stayed, looking over the newly planted seedlings to ensure they were well-placed and likely to thrive.
All together, the hardworking children and community members planted 19,800 trees!
These trees included Tamarind, Cenacamea, Umbrella, Luceana, Mchongoma, Mborea, Neem, and Baobab. And, there are still seedlings remaining! So, in the next few weeks, the school closest to the watershed, Pungu Primary, will continue planting, involving every child from the school as well as local youth groups to add an additional 5,000 trees to the site.
These young trees will be vulnerable due to their small size, so the youth groups, who come to the lake more often, have agreed to be responsible for watching over the planted seedlings. They will make sure community members know not to disturb the seedlings, and will be pathways for animals, like cattle, to be led to the water, safely avoiding the young trees.
As more seedlings are produced in nurseries, if the rains continue as strong as they have been, we look forward to many more planting events like this one!