THE STORY OF BRACKENHURST'S RESTORATION
The United Nations has declared 2021–2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems in order to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity. Kenya has made a commitment to restore 5.1m ha by 2030.
At Brackenhurst we got a 20 year head start!
In 2000 Plants for Life International, embarked on a 30 year project to convert Brackenhurst land back into an African forest. We started to clear all the exotic plantations of eucalyptus (gum), wattle, pine and cypress and replant indigenous African trees and shrubs.
In 2006 we registered Brackenhurst as a botanic garden with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI). Ten years later we achieved Level 3 accreditation with ArbNet, a worldwide grouping of arboreta based at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. Brackenhurst Botanic garden is now in two parts: outside of the inner compound we have created native forest of over 120,000 trees and shrubs spread over nearly 100 acres of land. On the inner compound we aim to have a beautiful garden on which we have planted rare trees and shrubs on the IUCN Red list. Working with our partner “Brackenology” we use both the inner compound and the forest for functions and environmental education.
Rewilding Brackenhurst is also a serious scientific project and we have given presentations at ecological and botanical meetings in Nairobi, Egypt, Jordan, China, Brazil, Chicago, Madison, Durban, Capetown, New York, London, Dublin, Geneva & Warsaw.
A forest is more than trees. It includes are the animals, birds, insects, soil micro-organisms and all the other plants and organisms (ferns, orchids, lichens, fungi, mosses) that are returning naturally or have been reintroduced.
Colobus monkeys, our flagship species returned to Brackenhurst in 2015 after an 80 year absence because their food source (leaves of native trees) is now available and the trees are tall enough to give them protection. Other animals we have seen in the forest include Bush babies, (Greater Galagos), Sykes monkeys, Civet cats, Genet cats, White-tailed Mongoose, Black-tipped mongoose, African Clawless Otter, African hedgehog, porcupine and Bush Pig.
Our bird list has increased form 30 in 2000 to over 180 recorded species in 2019.
The purpose of ecological restoration includes the return of ecosystem services. These might be financial such as income-generating activities like shade coffee, hardwood extraction, indigenous vegetables such as nderema (Basella alba), inchet (Ensete ventricosum or Ethiopian False Banana) or medicinal plants such as thabai (Urtica maasaica) or mwiri (Prunus africana). But ecosystem services cover a lot more: clean air, clean water, ecotourism, carbon sequestration, soil quality, firewood from fallen braches etc.
Come up to Brackenhurst and enjoy the clean air, the gardens, the coffee shop, the Muna café or just walks in the forest.
Plants for life International does regular bird, tree and nature walks. You can plant a tree with a plaque on behalf of a child or a departed friend. Or you can just sponsor our work as we expand into other areas.