I am a conservation professional with 15 years of experience in diverse landscapes across Africa. My interest in environmental issues is informed by my personal and professional experiences. I was born and brought up near a forest in the Kenyan highlands. It was because of the waters flowing from this forest that I did not have to walk for long distances to fetch water - a task expected of girls in my community. This forest and its critical watersheds was protected by elders through the application of Indigenous Knowledge Systems.
I am a firm believer in the application of Indigenous Knowledge in the furtherance of just conservation and community livelihoods. Over the course of my career, I have worked towards the integration of natural and cultural heritage into a concrete whole. I have had the privilege of working with and learning from the following communities:
The Turkana, Abagusii, Agikuyu, Iteso, and Abasuba peoples in Kenya;
The Warangi in Tanzania;
The Iteso in Uganda;
The Chewa in Malawi;
The San in South Africa;
and, Aboriginal Australians.
Their individual and collective philosophies have influenced my thinking on the practice and application of conservation.
Recent work: Executive producer of the film 'A Canopy of Hope: The Legacy of Wangari Maathai'
Author of 'Reclaiming Indigenous Knowledge Systems'
Conservation has, over the last couple of decades, coalesced around the language of community-engagement. Models that seemed to prop up conservation areas as those emptied of human presence are cracking under their own weight. This book grounds our understanding of people-forest relationships through the lens of Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) in the Nyandarwa (Aberdare) forest reserve in Kenya, home to the Agikuyu people. It confronts the history of land dispossession in Kenya, demonstrates that land continues to be a central pillar of Agikuyu indigenous environmental thought, and cements the role of the forest in sustaining the struggle for independence. It also shines a light on seed and food sovereignty as arenas of knowledge mobilization and self-determination. The book concludes by showing how IKS can contribute to forging sustainable people-forest relationships.