By Jean Marie Takouleu
The Doen Foundation has awarded a grant of USD145 000 to Horizon Essential Oils. The company, based in central Kenya, promotes the preservation of the forests around Mount Kenya by producing essential oil from tree species.
Reducing deforestation through the creation of income-generating activities for local populations. This is the aim of Horizon Essential Oils, which now benefits from a grant of USD145 000 dollars from the Doen Foundation based in the Netherlands. In the forests surrounding Mount Kenya, Horizon Essential Oils exploits tree species to make essential oils.
This concentrated liquid of aromatic compounds is increasingly being used for therapeutic purposes and even in the food industry. Its sustainable exploitation could improve the preservation of primary forests such as the one around Mount Kenya in central Kenya. This is what Horizon Essential Oils is working to do.
“Commercial products are being produced for the growing market for essential oils while helping to preserve biodiversity and improve local livelihoods. The collection of nuts and leaves from the forest creates a new local source of income from products that previously had no commercial value. The by-products from pressing the oil are processed into animal feed,” says founder of Horizon Essential Oils.
With funding from the Doen Foundation, Horizon plans to increase the size of its farm from the current 300 hectares to 3 000 hectares within three years. It will also have to boost its capacity to extract essential oils. The company estimates that this development will require the use of 1500 collectors and will create 10 additional full-time jobs.
According to the company, its new essential oil production capacity should reduce deforestation by 40% around Mount Kenya. These forests are very often devastated by farmers, but above all by local populations who cut down trees to produce charcoal that is sold in urban centres. This intensive exploitation of the forests is at the root of the reduction in the country’s forest cover.
According to the Kenyan forestry services, Kenya’s forest cover is only 5%. Yet deforestation is increasing by 1.13% per year. Sustainable exploitation of these areas is one of the solutions for its preservation. It is even crucial around Mount Kenya, where many rivers have their sources. The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage site also has a wide variety of wildlife. These forests are teeming with monkeys including black and white colobus, as well as large mammals such as elephants and Cape buffalo.
The article was first published in Afrik21.