Absa Bank Kenya has initiated a 150,000-mangrove tree reforestation initiative aimed at preserving and safeguarding fragile ecosystems along Kenya’s coastline.
The initiative, undertaken in partnership with the Environmental Interaction Organization, Kenya Forestry Services and Bidii Creek Conservancy, will begin in Jomvu Kuu and Majoreni Forests in Mombasa and Kwale Counties.
Speaking during the commissioning of the initiative at Tudor Creek, Absa Bank’s Managing Director Abdi Mohamed, said the initiative aligns with the bank’s sustainability agenda and complements the ongoing government’s 15 billion tree planting agenda.
“As an active force for good, we care about the communities around us and the environment in which we operate. We recognize the critical role that mangroves play in maintaining biodiversity, mitigating climate change, and protecting coastal communities from natural disasters. We therefore believe our initiative will not only enhance the natural beauty of our coastline but also provide numerous environmental benefits such as erosion control, water quality improvement, and the promotion of biodiversity.” Mohamed said.
Jomvu Member of Parliament, Hon. Badi Twalib observed that mangrove forests remain an important biodiversity hot spot that must be protected and conserved at all costs, adding that mangrove ecosystems also provide livelihood opportunities such as fishing and tourism, contributing to the economic well-being of Tudor and Jomvu communities.
Mombasa County Forest Conservator Benjamin Muindi said tree planting is no longer a KFS affair, and that partners such as Absa are needed towards achieving the 30 per cent forest cover by planting 15 billion trees by 2032.
On his part, Bidii Creek Conservancy Chairman Ali Muhamed lauded the Absa Bank for the move.
“We are proud to collaborate with Absa on this initiative. Their commitment to environmental sustainability aligns perfectly with our mission, and together, we can make a significant impact in protecting and restoring mangrove ecosystems. This partnership will not only benefit the environment but also create a stronger and more resilient community.” Ali noted.
Christened the ‘lungs of our coastlines’, mangrove trees can absorb up to 900 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere every year, thereby playing an active role in combating the climate crisis. Mangroves also act as formidable barriers against natural disasters, specifically storms and tsunamis as their intricate root systems dissipate wave energy, reducing the impact on vulnerable coastal communities and minimizing the destruction caused by these catastrophic events.
It is against this backdrop that the bank’s reforestation efforts in the Coastal region also include partnering with local community-based organizations such as the Gazi Women Group in Kwale County aimed at saving the mangrove forests from extinction.
Earlier this year, the bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Safaricom and the Kenya Forest Service to adopt more than five degraded public forests across the country in a bid to reforest them. These forests included Kaptagat Forest, South Kinangop Forest, Njukiini Forest, and Kwa Jomvu Forest, among others.
“This year, we are targeting to plant over 1 million trees countrywide as part of our wider commitment to plant 10 million trees by 2025 and become a net zero organization by 2040. We believe our efforts will also scale the government’s efforts towards achieving 30 percent forest cover by 2032.” Mohamed added.
Over the past two years, the bank has been planting trees in the Southern part of Aberdare Forest and the Mau Complex in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service, local Community Forest Associations and implementing partners such as Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF). The bank is also on course to rehabilitate a section of the degraded 100-hectare Sorget Forest in Kericho County.