Karura Forest Environmental Education Centre (KFEEC)
In order to realize the recreational and educational potentials of Karura Forest Reserve, five organizations have established a Trust called the Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust. These organizations are: Vivo Energy Kenya, Kenya Forest Service, Green Belt Movement, Friends of Karura Forest - Community Forest Association and Oshwal Education and Relief Board.
The purpose of the Trust is to promote environmental conservation and sustainable management of natural resources through training and sharing of information and related resources and through strengthening of private-public partnerships. To this end, the Trust decided to establish an educational centre – Karura Forest Environmental Education Centre (KFEEC) - primarily for forest and nature conservation education purposes and as a resource centre for activities compatible with the aims and objectives of environmental conservation and protection.
Karura Forest Environmental Education Centre will be located on approximately 15 acres of what was the Shell Sports Club. The site is partially surrounded by closed-canopy forest with key institutional neighborhood of the Kenya Teachers Training College, the International Center for Research in Agro-forestry and the United Nations Environment Programme Headquarters.
The site is part of the Karura Forest which is situated in the Northern part of the Nairobi County bordering Muthaiga, Gigiri and Runda residential areas. It is a peri-urban upland forest covering approx. 1041.3 hectares (see Map 1). It is rich in biological diversity with many species of plants, birds, insects and mammals to be found within its diverse landscape.
The forest holds a number of sites of special interest, including 20-metre waterfall, Mau-Mau caves, wetlands, lily-strewn lake, as well as pleasant picnic grounds and over 50 kilometers of trails for bird walks or jogging.
Its location within the capital city of Nairobi is one of its main advantage as it acts as a “green lung” for the polluted city, a water catchment for several rivers and has a unique recreational and educational potential for Nairobi dwellers to enjoy, understand and stay in touch with their natural heritage right on their own doorstep.
Access to the site is via a murram road from Limuru Road opposite the Belgium Embassy.
The infrastructure on the site currently comprises an old Club House, a squash court, a toilet block, three tennis courts and one football pitch (see Map 2). The old Club House was built in 1953. It is the wish of the Trust to keep the façade of the Club House (see Photograph 1).
VISION, MISSION AND OBJECTIVES
The vision, mission and objectives for Karura Forest Environmental Education Centre are as follows:
Vision: To be a world-class transformational education centre focusing on environmental sustainability in the region, with an emphasis on the youth.
Mission: To change attitudes towards the management and the conservation of the environment, in particular forests, and the sustainable use of natural resources through education programming.
- Sensitize and educate people, in particular the youth, on current and emerging national and global environmental issues; particularly forest protection and conservation
- Promote environmental education, through advocacy and training of teachers and educators
- Provide a dynamic forum, enabling students to learn about current environmental challenges while participating in providing solutions; engaging in forest conservation and management hands-on experiential learning
- Showcase sustainable livelihoods, green economy, green energy sources, green lifestyles etc. Encouraging students to embracing technologies and concepts that mitigate against climate change.
GENERAL DESIGN GUIDELINES
In keeping with the primary purpose of the Centre which is conservation of the environment and sustainable use of natural resources, the following points should be considered whilst designing the new facility:
- To limit the development as far as is reasonable within the currently built-up area and prevent encroaching onto surrounding natural habitats;
- To minimize the carbon footprint by using materials with low environmental impacts (for example, cement that has a high in-built energy contents should be limited);
- To maximize carbon sequestration by using materials with high carbon contents (for example, wood from well managed plantations should be encouraged);
- To make the centre as self sufficient as possible in the use of natural resources (such as water) and energy. The facility should be a live model and a show-case of cutting edge green building practices and lifestyles. As far as possible, the Centre should comply with the LEED certification or other regional green architecture certifications;
- The facility should be designed to blend in and complement the surrounding environment, in particular the forest. The forest should be considered as an extension of the Centre;
- The design and layout should be simple. Unnecessary complexity that alienates the visitors and is in conflict with the Centre’s theme and objectives should be avoided;
- To be world class but retain a high level of reality and practicality; and,
- To be fully wheelchair friendly and be fully accessible to physically challenged individuals.
SPECIFIC DESIGN FUNCTIONS
The Centre should be designed towards providing the following functions:
- Foyer that also is a space for a Permanent exhibition on Karura Forest to inform people on the history and the value of Karura Forest as well as on the history of the Shell Sports Club;
- Temporary exhibitions area on corridors or verandah and such spaces; that can have interactive screens with individual controls and headsets to provide access to a database of short documentaries, flash animations, poster-based exhibitions and presentations;
- E Library to exhibit and make available the most recent publications from the main environmental and forestry stakeholders in the region and around the world. This will enable visitors to access information, in one place, on the latest published developments in the field of the environment and forestry;
- Auditorium capable of accommodating around 200 persons to provide a main venue for topical presentations and debates, projection of documentaries as well as lectures on environmental issues;
- Small conference rooms for a maximum of 20 people each to host meetings and seminars
- Management and administrative offices; (Reception/Program Officer/ Education Outreach/ Interns Room and Board Room)
- Storage facility
- Cafeteria and eco-gift shop; and,
- Ablution Block (Washrooms).
The design would include landscaping design for outdoor facilities that would include:
- Amphitheatre (300pax): Discussions, presentations and discourses will also be organized outside amidst the lush greenery, birdsong and fresh air of the forest;
- Any other unique landscape attractions that could excite and bring environmental conservation awareness to young learners.
Cost of Project
It is anticipated that the cost range of this project shall be between 1.5 to 2 million US dollars