Taita Taveta Government Initiates a Botanical Garden

In a bid to promote conservation of the environment, the Taita Taveta county government will collaborate with the University of Helsinki to establish a Botanical Garden in Wundanyi/Mbale ward.

Speaking during a presentation of the proposed educational botanical garden at the office of the Deputy Governor in Wundanyi on Wednesday morning, the Finnish Museum of Natural History Director, Prof. Leif Schulman said the garden will promote conservation of the environment.

The garden will display the indigenous and unique plant species of Taita Taveta hills and create awareness on their conservation, said Prof. Schulman.

Botanical gardens offer the city dwellers part of the natural environment he no longer has access to; furthermore, they offer a mental escape from population pressure and suggest new interests and hobbies having to do with the natural world, narrated the scholar.

A major contemporary objective of botanical gardens is to maintain extensive collections of plants, labeled with common and scientific names and regions of origin. Plant collections in such gardens vary in number from a few hundred to several thousand different kinds, depending on the land area available and the financial and scholarly resources of the institution, explained the professor.

He added that some of the components of the garden will include, an educational garden, hydro meteorological station and a space for local farmers and agriculture test plots.

The history director said the botanical garden would also provide a rich opportunity for the general public to learn more about plants and how to grow them let alone offering popular-level short courses on plants and plant cultivation each year, both for adults and for children.

Schuluman further stated that the project would also act as a classroom and greenhouse workshop facilities for a novice gardener who would be taught how to grow and tender for trees and other types of plants.

There are at least nine plant species found nowhere else in the world but on these moist slopes of Taita Taveta including, the African violet � Saintpaulia teitensis, Memecyclon teitensis, Milletia obrata, Psychotria petitae.

The program that will be implemented in Mwanda village will also involve desiltation of Tambaru dam that has the capacity to supply water to residents of the ward.

The committee executive member (CEC) for Lands, Environment and Natural Resources, Clarice Mnyambo said that the County department will support the project as it carries the public interest in conservation of natural resources.

As world populations become more urbanized, botanical gardens are increasingly recognized as among the important cultural resources of industrialized nations, noted Mnyambo.

Local residents present during the presentation said they were fully involved in the program implementation and therefore will support it.

The University of Helsinki is already running a research centre in Wundanyi/Mbale that conducts activities across other parts of the county.

Wundanyi/Mbale ward MCA Beatrice Mwabili, Wundanyi Deputy Sub-County Administrator, John Mwangeka, Lands and Mining Chief Officer, Ken Mwaita and other county officials and delegates from the University of Helsinki were also present.

Meanwhile, botanical gardens are often run by universities or other scientific research organizations whose principle role is to maintain documented collections of living plants for scientific research, conservation, display and education depending on the resources available and the interests pursued by a particular garden.

Other gardens in Kenya include, Lang’ata, Mazeras and the Nairobi Botanical garden run by the National Museum.

Source: Kenya News Agency

"Taita Taveta Government Initiates a Botanical Garden"

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