Kenya: Invasive plant posing danger to Meru forest

Nov 3, 2021 | News

By Phares Mutembei, The Standard 

A destructive Lantana Camara plant has invaded parts of Imenti Forest designated as World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The invasive plant has now covered large portions of the lower and upper Imenti Forest, a habitat that teems with elephants, primates, and a wide variety of bird species.

Lantana camara, according to conservationists, inhibits the growth of forests and food crops. This has directly affected communities, especially those who have been benefiting from the forest courtesy of an association involving members of the community.

According to Meru Ecosystem head Benard Wahome, the invasive plant occupies 5,000ha of the forest’s 97,000ha.

Mr Wahome said Kenya Forestry Service was working with the Mount Kenya Forest Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and other partners to reclaim the parts degraded by the destructive plant.

Wahome said despite the fact that the plant had affected the lower and upper Imenti Forest, working with residents and the environmental and wildlife conservation groups would help them curb its growth.

He said the groups involved were helping uproot the plant and replacing them with indigenous and other trees.

Wahome said the idea was to ensure the species did not spread to other parts of the forests and surrounding farms because of its potential to stifle growth of food crops.

“We want to ensure the forest cover in Meru is increased, hence our partnership with local communities in eradicating the Lantana Camara and replacing them with trees,” he said.

The plant has also invaded the 4,139ha Ngaya Forest in Igembe region, near the Meru National Park.

Ngaya, a rain forest, is home to elephants, the bush viper, which is endemic to Kenya.

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