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Mau and Embobut Forest Tea Buffer Belt

Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation initiated the Mau Buffer Project following a Presidential Directive issued by H.E. The President Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta during the official opening of Kipchabo Tea Factory, on 11th July 2014. The directive to the Corporation was to establish tea buffer belts to protect the two forest eco-systems of Mau and Embobut forests.

As a result, a preparatory meeting comprising Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation (NTZDC) and Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Managing Directors and technical staff from the two institutions was convened to chart the way forward towards implementing the directive. A Task Force comprising NTZDC, KFS, and Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK) was constituted to lead the process and tasked with undertaking a preliminary survey of the two areas. The task force returned a verdict that the tea buffer belt was tenable with NTZDC as the implementing agency.

Project Overview

The Mau buffer belt establishment project aims to create an economic buffer round designated forest ecosystems within the Mau Forest complex while at the same time deterring further encroachment into the important water tower. The buffer belt undertaking which commenced in June 2015 has three components including the tea buffer component, restoration of degraded forest areas and community livelihoods improvement.

Protection of Mau forest using a tea buffer was a replication of the successful model pioneered by Nyayo Tea Zones Development Corporation since 1986 and which have been developed in other parts of the country under similar circumstances. The first tea buffer belts were developed in 1986 and have so far returned considerable success in deterring further encroachment into gazetted forests and water towers including Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, Nandi, Kakamega and Cherangany forests while at the same time offering an economic life-line to peri-forest communities. The tea provides a live fence for the buffered forest as well as providing a source of employment for local communities.


The project has progressed quite well since it was started in 2015. At the Masai Olposimoru site, over 120 hectares (12 kilometers) of the tea belt have been established out of the envisaged 240 hectares.

The Mau Buffer Project supports the Kenya Vision 2030 Social Pillar under environmental conservation and has many benefits accruing to the surrounding ecosystem and the forest adjacent communities. These include the following outcomes:

  • Improved forest cover and reduced encroachment of the important water tower.
  • Increased tea production
  • Poverty reduction through employment creation and community empowerment
  • Enhanced business opportunities and growth as a result of tea industry supply chain requirements
  • Enhanced production of forest goods and services (firewood, medicinal plants, river flow regimes, eco-tourism, recreation, cultural ceremonies, etc)
  • Increased awareness on ecosystem conservation
  • Reduction of conflict and hostilities occasioned by incessant forest encroachment.
  • Transfer of technology and uptake of tea husbandry by farmers in the surrounding areas.
  • Healing of severely damaged and degraded ecosystems and biodiversity profiles


Mau Project Factfile:



Project start date

June 2015

Project Area

•      Masai Ol Posimoru-240ha, 24Km long

•      South West Mau (Kuresoi)-440ha, 44Km long

•      Embobut Forest-1500ha, 150km long

•      Total-2180, 218km long

Area planted under tea so far

•      Masai Ol Posimoru-96ha, 9.6km long

•      South West Mau (Kuresoi)-106ha, 10.6km long

•      Embobut Forest- To be commenced in 2018

•      Total=212ha, 21.2km long

Total Area of Forest to be protected by the Tea Buffer Belt on Completion

•      Mau Forest-400,000ha

•      Embobut Forest-65,000ha

•      Total=465,000ha

Some Important rivers from the Protected Catchment Ecosystems

•       Mau  Forest (Molo, Ewaso Ngiro, Yala, Nyando, Sondu, Kerio,)-6

•      Embobut Forest (Nzoia, Turkwel, Kerio)-3

•      Total=9

Average No. of local Community members Employed per day

•      Masai Ol Posimoru-1200

•      Kuresoi-1500

•      Total-2700