An expanding and increasingly land hungry human population has resulted in the continued settlement of Kenya’s semi arid and agriculturally marginal lands. Frequent droughts and a lack of adequate government amenities and infrastructure exacerbate the problem with the World Bank classifying the average rural Kenyan existing below the poverty line. Most Kenyans rely extensively on subsistence arable and livestock production that even during good years result in only a hand to mouth existence for most. Without additional means of creating dependable incomes the situation is only set to worsen with rural subsistence farmers facing a continuing cycle of poverty.
Kenya’s arid range land, however, does host a remarkable diversity of natural resources. If they are integrally linked to people’s livelihoods, habitat and wildlife will be conserved, not only safeguarding biodiversity for future generations but also protecting water catchments and combating soil erosion and desertification — essential for the continued viability of agriculture and livestock production in these areas.
Wild Living Resources Business Park is a practical and commercially viable working model of integrated land use that has realistic potential to create tangible livelihoods whilst conserving the natural resource base. The Business Park provides demonstration, the first of its kind in Eastern Africa, and a practical in-situ training facility for the capacity building of rural communities, and public and private sector support agencies.
Located on 130 acres of indigenous forest shrub (donated by Kilifi Plantations Ltd for the establishment of a community based natural resource management initiative) the business park acts as a model for the fully working integrated demonstration of six (rising to eleven) natural resource use and livelihood options. These are Eco charcoal processing, East African Wild Leafy Vegetables, East African Wild Mushrooms, East African Aloe, East African Herbals and Good Woods.