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Project information

20 Million Trees for Kenya's Forests

Trees are vital to life on earth. Globally, 1 in 6 people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They conserve fresh water and provide a habitat for 50% of animals and plants. We aim to plant 20 million trees in Kenya with local communities to restore native forests and improve rural livelihoods.

April 2016 - December 2024

Charity information: International Tree Foundation

International Tree Foundation logo
  • Need


    Much of Kenya’s native forest has been lost over the last century. Today, Kenya's rural inhabitants are heavily reliant on the forest for their day-to-day lives. It provides food, medicine and fuel, as well as crucial services such as protecting soil and freshwater resources; climate regulation, and a habitat for native and endemic wildlife. However, under the pressures the forest currently faces, its ability to support the population and act as a wildlife habitat is at risk.


    In partnership with local community-based organisations, we are restoring Kenya's five 'Water Tower' forests - so called because of their vital role in conserving freshwater - with millions of native trees. We are also working to reduce an over-reliance on the forest by supporting local communities to plant trees on their farms through agroforestry. These trees will improve soil quality and provide fuel, fodder and fruits, which can be sold locally to improve livelihoods.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Increase tree cover in Kenya through planting 20 million trees


    » Identify and develop projects with local community-based partner organisations to plant 10-15 million indigenous trees in Kenya's Water Tower forests
    » Work with key stakeholders in Kenya, from local community to national and international level, to support local reforestation and agroforestry
    » Build organisational capacity of local partners in indigenous forest restoration and agroforestry
    » Support community-based organisations to develop agroforestry tree planting with local communities, planting 5-10 million trees on smallholdings

    What success will look like

    20,000 hectares of land restored and 20 million trees grown. This will be monitored by mapping and measuring tree planting, survival and growth rates.

    Aim 2

    Contribute to enhancing local participation and governance in the conservation of Kenya's forests


    » Raise capacity of community based organisations to take responsibility for forest conservation and restoration, collaborating with local stakeholders
    » Develop an effective monitoring and evaluation process to assess the progress of the tree planting, and of the benefits that result
    » Disseminate and learn from best practice and lessons learnt

    What success will look like

    Community-based organisations will have increased capacity to contribute to managing natural resources effectively, and to influencing governance and policy.

    Aim 3

    Improve the livelihoods, food security and nutrition of 100,000 households


    » Raise agroforestry tree seedlings in community nurseries and supply these to project participants for planting on their own land
    » Promote the benefits of agroforestry for water conservation, soil fertility, increased production of fruits, other materials and increased income
    » Provide community-based education such as farm visits to demonstrate best practice in agroforestry

    What success will look like

    Improved livelihoods and less reliance on the forest for materials. Case studies at multiple levels, including individual farms, will capture the changes in people’s lives.

  • Impact


    Forest ecosystem services will be enhanced including water catchment (improved water flow in downstream rivers and re-charge of groundwater) and biodiversity conservation.
    100,000 households will have improved livelihoods, productivity and farm more sustainably.
    Governance and long-term conservation of Kenya’s forests will be improved through greater capacity and collaboration between organisations.
    The project will support Kenya’s national effort to increase its tree cover (from 7% to 10%).


    Inability to access sufficient appropriate land or resources is a risk. We have set up an advisory group comprised of key national governmental bodies and NGOs who support the project and provide expertise and local insight.

    Trees face risks from pressures like weather, competition and unforeseen land use change. We record tree growth and survival and will implement replacement planting when necessary. We work in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service, who allocate land for reforestation.


    Donors to this project will receive quarterly email updates on the project activities and outcomes. Donors also receive our two annual publications, our Impact Report and Trees Journal. Those who choose can also sign up to our monthly digital newsletter and follow us on social media.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,991,291

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,038,903 Tree planting Materials & activities to grow 20 million trees: nurseries, site preparation, planting, maintenance.
      £2,271,883 Community engagement Staff, office, travel, training costs etc., engagement, mapping, communications
      £377,293 In-country management Kenya based staff, office, travel, monitoring, communications, advisory group
      £264,212 ITF management costs Establishing systems; recruiting field projects; monitoring; fundraising, communications
      £39,000 Technical and scientific Baselines, imaging, tree audits, monitoring and evaluation

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Corporate partnerships £550,066 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Kenya is one of the least forested countries in Africa with only 7% forest cover. Five ‘Water Tower’ forests – Mount Kenya, Aberdares, Mau Complex, Elgon and Cherangani - play a vital role as the sources of all the rivers in this water-scarce country. Yet most are severely degraded. The farming landscapes around the forests are highly productive and home to most of Kenya’s 48 million people. However, many households rely on small farms, and 40% of the population are below the poverty line.


    The direct beneficiaries will be 100,000 households living in proximity to the Water Tower forests. They will be supported to raise tree seedlings to plant in degraded parts of the forest and on their own farms. Trees planted on farms improve soil fertility and provide fruits, fodder and firewood, increasing farm productivity and household income. The whole country will benefit from a strengthened forest ecosystem with improved water infiltration and storage and enhancing freshwater systems.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    ITF has been involved in community-based forestry since 1922, when forerunner Watu Wa Miti (‘People of the Trees’) was formed in Kenya. Our model harnesses the motivation and local knowledge of community groups who are already active in forest conservation and agroforestry giving them the resources and capacity to realise their ambitions. We have the passion, expertise and inter-organisational relationships to grow 20 million trees by 2024, the centenary of our foundation in the UK.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Paul Laird, Programmes Manager, International Tree Foundation

    Paul develops and manages the project. He is a Forester with over 20 years’ experience managing forestry and rural development projects in Africa.

    Julian Wanja, Project Manager, Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation

    Julian engages with the local community in Embu, southern Mount Kenya and overseas forest restoration and agroforestry in phase 1 of the project.

    Humphrey Munene, Field Coordinator, Mount Kenya Trust.

    Humphrey manages forest restoration in phase 2, in Northern Mt Kenya. He has excellent relationships with communities and government officials alike.

    Kirsty Shaw, Head Of Ecological Restoration And Tree Conservation, Botanic Gardens Conservation International

    Kirsty is a member of the advisory group. She is based in Nairobi and supports forest restoration through providing expertise and capacity building.