The goal of this commitment is to re-establish small water cycles in specific degraded watersheds in Kenya's Amboseli ecosystem in order to re-establish the larger hydrologic corridor, which will decrease runoff, erosion, and restore native vegetation. A project testing this climate-engineered technology, which allows for rapid and cost-effective implementation, is currently being piloted in Kenya, and this commitment is an expansion of this innovative technology.
WCT and their implementing partners will fully restore local water cycle in 10 project locations in the Amboseli ecosystem in Kenya. Currently, local water cycles have been disrupted due a highly denuded landscape, leading to severe flooding and erosion.
Each project location covers an area of approximates 20 square miles in Amboseli and entails the construction of subsurface dams to capture erosive runoff. The captured water will be guided to infiltration trenches that will provide much needed moisture to the land and promote the regeneration of native species. Over time, the natural water cycle will be restored over an area 75 times the size of the individual project locations, thus regenerating the hydrologic corridor.
After contour trenching has been successfully implemented, vegetation reaches harvestable levels within two years. The restored water cycle in these locations will lead to the re-saturation of soil and higher water tables. Seeds left behind in the ground will spring to life. Natural vegetation will return surprisingly quickly, as soon as the first rains touch the ground. The returning vegetation releases water vapor (gaseous water) into the atmosphere and as this vapor rises, it cools down, condenses, and returns to the earth as precipitation. This precipitation then infiltrates into the soil allowing it to be absorbed by the roots of the vegetation, thus completing the cycle. This vertical water circulation is the hallmark of the local water cycle.
The restored water cycle will have significant impacts on wildlife through increased water and forage availability. Biodiversity will increase with the re-establishment of native species. As shown in the WCT pilot, this automatic reforestation has amazed experts, as trees unseen for decades sprung to life immediately after water became available in relevant quantities.
Increased water availability will also impact local communities - providing water for human consumption, livestock, crops, and small-scale industry (such as breeding programs and tourism). As their businesses revive, communities will share in covering project costs through Community Based Organization (CBO) of Ogulului, Rombo, and Mbirikani , a cooperative association of 11,000 Maasai farmers in the region.
1. Baseline survey executed, duration 1 week
2. Training local stakeholders, ongoing
3. Design of watershed management plan, including type and locations of water harvesting techniques and land use management strategies, Months 1-3
4. Construction of contour trenches and barrier hedges, Months 3-13
5. Introducing sustainable land management strategies, provision of seeds, Months 14-16
6. Provision of equipment and field supplies, Months 15-16
7. Monitoring the process of implementation and evaluating the performance of the interventions, Ongoing
8. Dissemination of the project outcomes: workshops, publications, and media briefings, Months 17-19
The global hydrologic cycle can be characterized by the 'large' water cycle (the exchange of water between ocean and land which results in precipitation) and the 'small' or local water cycle (a closed loop system of precipitation). The 'large' water cycle and 'small' water cycles constitute a 'hydrological corridor', which regulates the climatological and atmospheric conditions of a given region. The land cover of an area plays an important role in the creation of precipitation as it acts helps retain water on the land, reducing runoff and erosion. Severely denuded landscapes are not capable of storing water resulting in high runoff and erosion rates. However, local water cycles can be altered in order to increase local water supplies.
The Westerveld Conservation Trust's (WCT) projects will be implemented in Kenya's Amboseli ecosystem, a globally important pastoral /wildlife ecosystem that is internationally recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve because of its significance as a biologically diverse conservation area. Amboseli is home to elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, and gazelle. These densely packed herds attract big predators, including lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena. The dry bush is home to giraffe, eland, gerenuk, lesser kudu, and smaller animals.
The local climate of Amboseli is characterized by a short rain season (November - December) and a long rain season (March - May) with an average rainfall of 200mm to 600mm per year. However the last decades have shown extensive periods of drought that can last over close to two years. The 2009-2010 drought affected 10 million people in Kenya and impacted wildlife populations.