Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes

Partnerships for Forests is supporting the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) to with an innovative livestock production model as part of a wider effort to restore and conserve Kenya’s South West Mau Forest.  


The Mau Forest Complex (MFC) is Kenya’s largest closed-canopy montane forest and provides vital ecosystem services, including climate regulation, flood mitigation, conservation of biodiversity and carbon storage.

The last two decades have seen land use change and unsustainable resource extraction reduce the MFC by more than 25%. The South West MFC reserve is less than two thirds of its original 95,356 hectares in 1932.

A 2016 study showed a significant area along the northeast boundary of the forest block had been reduced to grassland or scrub through heavy encroachment by grazing livestock. And the remaining forest continues to be threatened by degradation due to illegal activities including livestock grazing, wood extraction for charcoal and firewood, fire and poaching.

The project

Partnerships for Forests is supporting IDH, as part of the Initiative for Sustainable Landscapes initiative, to design, pilot and facilitate the adoption of alternative livestock (beef and dairy) value chain models by communities farming along the northeastern boundary of the South West Mau Forest.  

The innovative livestock production model will be implemented with local communities and other partners to ensure herd control (so livestock does not graze freely into the forest); improve forest access regulation and enforcement measures; intensify livestock production systems; and provide value addition and market linkages for livestock products.  

The project aims to strike a balance between improved livelihoods and forest conservation. Farmers will be supported to increase their incomes with more efficient production systems and better access to markets. And pressure on the forest will be reduced via production-protection agreements between government agencies, local communities and livestock buyers.  

If successful, the model will be shared for replication in other parts of Kenya and beyond.  

By 2020, the project is estimated to bring 80,000 ha of the South West Mau Forest area under sustainable management and mobilise £25,000,000 of private investment

Lead Organisation: IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative

Implementing Organisations:

Private: Unilever Tea Kenya, James Finlay Kenya Limited, Safaricom Foundation

Public: Kenya Forest Service County Government of Kericho, County Government of Nakuru, Kenya Tea Development Authority

Civil society:  SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Community Forest Associations (CFA), Rhino Ark, GIZ

Current status