By Faith Atieno
In a bid to minimize the negative impacts on the environment due to mining, one of Kenya’s largest mining companies, Base Titanium is engaging in conservation activities including planting of trees.
Recently in October, Base Titanium mining company started operating a large indigenous tree nursery of about 165,140 trees in an effort to conserve and propagate trees of conservation importance.
Micah Muema, a representative from Base Titanium, said they are committed to minimising environmental impacts, while protecting and conserving biodiversity and driving environmentally responsible behaviour in our operation, and in our communities.
Rehabilitation and restoration being vital processes necessary to mitigate the impacts of mining operations on land, the company shapes the mined-out areas into dunes similar to those that existed before mining thus ensuring natural drainage areas are followed.
Topsoil spreading, manuring and mulching are then done to enhance soil organic matter by insulating it from excessive rain and heat thus prepares it for vegetation.
According to Muema, the mining company participates in rehabilitation-a concurrent model in which they have a a team which mines and another one that deals with fixing by planting grass and trees. This ensures that land is not left bare-subjecting it to degradation.
He pinpointed that the grass sown into the topsoil is locally acquired from the community then the indigenous nursery provides trees for the areas planted with pioneer grass species hence, generating income for both the locals and nation too.
Improving biodiversity in the region is also a key area that should be invested in-an activity in which the company has taken keen interest in by donating indigenous trees for planting to the members of the community through their 5-for-5 initiative.
“Supporting community groups in terms of environment and forests, is also one of the activities we undertake to ensure forests sustainability,” he noted, adding that they collaborate in the management of coastal forest patches and seek opportunities to support a variety of conservation initiatives by donating trees to planting programs in the region.
Notably, as Muema mentioned the company also have bee keeping and butterfly rearing projects where they enlighten the community on the link between forests and ecology as well as their income. The practice ensures an increase in their yields because the insects aid in population.
The representative highlighted that they collaborate with various partners and specialists such as those from the National Museums of Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service, where they regularly undertake and participate in habitat surveys to improve knowledge of the region’s rich biodiversity.
The program has seen new species being recorded and insights gained into the life histories and status of threatened species- statistics as at October 2021 show 297 species have been established in the nursery.
To achieve the long term environmental goals there is need for building a beneficial relationship with the community and the government through the Ministry of Environment in which they operate and establish a balanced flow of mutual benefits.