Tree Planting in Naboisho

By Becca Gibson - Naboisho Camp Manager | 05 September 2023


When Naboisho Camp was first built, 12 years ago, the camp was nestled in an enchanting acacia woodland. At this point, the conservancy was in its infancy and wildlife was only just beginning to venture across the border from the Masai Mara. As the grasslands recovered from being overgrazed by cattle, so they attracted greater numbers of herbivores, amongst them – elephant.  

An elephant explores the Naboisho Conservancy

Although beautiful to observe, hungry elephant will quickly destroy tree populations.

Elephant and opportunity

Elephant are considered a keystone species, helping to maintain biodiversity within the ecosystems they inhabit. They are responsible for the dispersion and distribution of seeds through their dung, while simultaneously creating clearings which offer browsing to a wider variety of wildlife. As important as these magnificent animals are to the wider ecosystem, they can also have a damaging effect on tree populations by knocking down large trees for easier access to leaves, roots and nutrients. Today, there are far fewer mature trees around camp due to the unfortunate destruction caused by the elephant.

Naboisho staff planting trees

Tree planting in Naboisho Camp initially began as an internal project.

This loss of trees prompted the idea of a tree planting project within the conservancy, to help restore the population in the immediate area around Naboisho Camp. As well as looking to re-establish the tree population, the additional habitat would then create a better home for a wide range of birds, insects, invertebrate, and small mammal species. The initial idea was to plant 1,000 trees around camp using only native trees, which would be protected by a newly implemented electric fence around camp. Erected specifically to prevent elephant from entering the camp, it is high enough off the ground to allow cats and other animals through, whilst protecting the remaining trees around camp from hungry elephant. It’s presence also makes the camp area perfect for planting and protecting new seedlings.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is now” – Chinese proverb

Tree planting in the Naboisho Conservancy

Seedlings, indigenous to the Masai Mara, are planted at Naboisho Camp. 

The Maa Trust

The Maa Trust (TMT) is one of our Implementing Partners in Kenya, performing a variety of important functions within community development, education, female empowerment, and the protection of the wilderness. At this time, they had recently launched their own project to restore an area of savannah in the Masai Mara through planting indigenous tree species. The specialists at TMT had collected seeds from within the Mara ecosystem to grow in their very own nursery, so it was an easy decision to partner with them to buy their tree seedlings to plant within camp. Initially, this was an internal undertaking within the camp and an activity the staff would participate in whenever time allowed. However, we quickly realised that once guests in camp heard about the project, many were keen to get involved by planting a tree.

Guests can create a lasting connection with the Naboisho Conservancy by planting a tree.

The rewarding experience of planting a tree, with far reaching consequences. 

An opportunity was created for guests to make a meaningful and tangible contribution to the conservancy, alongside a financial contribution to further support the efforts of The Maa Trust. For a US$50 donation, guests can choose from a variety of species including acacia gerrardii, kirkii, sycamore, rock fig, African olive, and yellow bark acacia, and then choose exactly where to plant it within Naboisho Camp. The project has been extremely successful so far, with guests choosing to plant a tree as a gift to someone special, in memory of a loved one, or simply for themselves. Most guests are fully involved in the planting process however, some opt for the assistance of our wonderful gardeners, as the soil can be a little tough to dig if there hasn’t been any recent rain. An essential part of the tree planting process is to name their tree, and there have been fantastic names with favourites being ‘Vincent Van Grow’ and ‘Morgan Treeman’.

A freshly planted seedling at Naboisho Camp.

A young seedling is gently planted in the soil around Naboisho Camp. 

Importantly, the full US$50 donation goes to The Maa Trust, who rely heavily upon donations for the funding required to implement community development projects. With many communities living without electricity, wood-fuelled cooking stoves are frequently used, further contributing to the removal of trees from the ecosystem. The Maa Trust is introducing subsidised gas-powered stoves to these communities, providing an affordable, clean burning and efficient alternative. The simple act of purchasing and planting a tree in Naboisho Camp has a wave of consequence felt throughout the Naboisho Conservancy.

A library, made from a container, offers children fun and informative reading matierial.

A "Save our Savanna" library, aimed to inspire and educate children about the importance of conservation.

Save Our Savanna

In the 2022-2023 season, the tree planting project in Naboisho Camp managed to raise US$2,550 for TMT, which contributed towards the construction of a "Save Our Savanna" library. Built from a container, these libraries are offering children and teachers access to age-appropriate children’s books that are not only fun and colourful, but also informative and educational. Additionally, the container is equipped with Wi-Fi, allowing teachers access to a world of additional materials. The library is a fun and vibrant space for children and, with a unique biodiversity theme, this classroom library will provide the inspiration for children to learn about the relationship between conservation and community, and the importance of protecting the Masai Mara and its habitats for the future benefit of community and wildlife alike.

Teachers and children benefit from the improved access to learning materials.

Happy teachers and children outside the new "Save our Savanna" library, funded partly by the planting of trees.

We are beyond excited to watch our trees grow. They are nurtured daily, and we are looking forward to one day sitting amongst the restored enchanting acacia woodland that once used to be here at Naboisho Camp.

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