The terrain is rough; a string of extinct and dormant volcanoes rising from Amboseli’s dry savannah plains. Razor sharp lava rocks indicate the most recent eruptions, while older craters have been softened by more than a million years of erosion.
The surrounding landscape is semi-arid, but the Chyulu Hills have created their own world. The line of hills forces warm Indian Ocean air upwards; this air condenses to create clouds and ultimately rainfall. So much rain falls that in wet years the cloud forests of the Chyulus receive as much precipitation as parts of the Amazon rainforest.
The result is a huge range of habitats that support diverse and abundant life forms and the dense natural vegetation, including a range of forest types, is also an extremely valuable carbon sink.
Despite its importance, the Chyulu Hills National Park is one of Kenya’s least known National Parks and is continually short of funding. The park is also surrounded by a large human population, many of whom have no incentive to participate in the protection of this astonishing place.
But the world is coming to the rescue. The Chyulu Hills REDD+ project was started as a way to raise money for the protection of the landscape and has been more successful than anyone could have imagined.
The project is ambitious, with nine project partners including two government agencies, four community landowner groups, and three conservation non-profits. But ambition is what is needed, and since the start of the project, 2,000,000 tons of carbon credits have been sold. This amount offsets the equivalent of 5,026,395,742 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle, or the consumption of 225,047,823 gallons of gasoline.
The high standards of the project has attracted buyers such as Tiffany and Co. and Gucci, and the technical and marketing support of Conservation International has been critical in securing these sales. The income generated is fast becoming a fundamental contributor to the management of the National Park and the creation of benefits for surrounding communities.
In 2021, Big life received $154K USD that supported funding for teachers, student scholarships, community rangers, and development of community land-use plans to protect important habitats. In addition, the funds helped secure a variety of emergency fire management tools, since fires in the Chyulus are devastating to the habitat and overall goals of the REDD+ Project.
Projects like this play a powerful role in the fight against global climate change, as well as creating nature-based benefits for indigenous communities who are the stewards of so many of the planet’s important natural spaces. Big Life is very proud to be part of it.