Community-based
social enterprise is receiving $145,000 to advance a
market-led conservation effort using essential oils from
native trees to save and restore Kenyan
forests.

Horizon Essential
Oils
is thrilled to announce a $145,000 grant award from
the Netherlands’ DOEN Foundation to scale a successful
essential oils project in communities near Mount Kenya. The
project encourages community-based action to conserve and
restore forests through circular entrepreneurship.Thousands
of hectares of forest will benefit while boosting income and
livelihood options for local community members, especially
women.

Kenya’s forest cover rate is only 5%, with a
deforestation rate of 1.13% annually (according to Kenya
Forestry Services). Since the country’s forests provide
the principal origin for water, at this rate the country
will be a desert in only a little over a century. Over half
the country’s population will be water insecure, and
millions of hectares of natural carbon storage will be
forever put out of use in the global fight against climate
change. Mount Kenya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has
around 705 square kilometers of protected forest under
threat.

Deforestation in Kenya is mostly caused by low
income people who don’t have anywhere else to turn to make
a living . They take what economic value they can from their
forest by cutting down trees and selling for charcoal or
timber.

Horizon was founded by Bernard Muchiri and
Mary Njeri to change this paradigm altogether. Farming was
becoming untenable, and Bernard wanted to find a better
income stream for his people. He identified many plants that
were used in the old days. By giving local people an
alternate source of income people can see that the trees are
worth more alive than dead.

 

Bernard
says, “When people discover that this plant they have
grown up with can generate income, they get surprised.”
Based on the success of the cape chestnut, Horizon expanded
to other biomass and have started to plant crop-based oils
such as geranium and immortelle. The company organizes local
collecting groups, mostly women, to collect plant matter in
a sustainable way. Horizon currently collects essential oil
biomass on 300 hectares, with 150 part time
staff.

This project will enable Horizon to increase
processing capacity. In 3 years, 3,000 hectares will be in
operation, with 1,500 collectors and 10 additional full time
staff. Deforestation will be reduced in the area by at least
40%.

Horizon’s model of market-led conservation is
simple yet effective. Commercial products are produced for
the growing essential oil market while helping to preserve
biodiversity and improve local livelihoods. Collecting
forest nuts and leaves creates a new local income source
from products that previously held no commercial value. The
by-products of oil pressing are converted into animal
feed.

Along
with discouraging deforestation, the company promotes
reforestation and planting initiatives around Mount Kenya,
with 261,000 oil-bearing trees planted to date.

The DOEN Foundation is
a Netherlands-based charitable entity whose aim is to add to
the transition of a green and innovative economy where
inspiring entrepreneurs contribute to a better world for
people and the planet. The companies it supports work
actively to establish sustainable change in the whole
production chain, from procurement to sales. To achieve
impact financial profit is a precondition, not an end in
itself. The DOEN Foundation is funded by the Dutch Postcode
Lottery.

© Scoop Media

 

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