Restoration in Kenya's Chyulu Hills


Kenya’s Chyulu Hills are home to the Maasai people, small-holder farmers and legions of iconic wildlife – including some of the largest populations of elephants in Kenya. These hills are also beset by unsustainable land use and deforestation.

In the face of these struggles, a new plan is afoot to restore these famous hills. Together with key partners in the landscape, particularly the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust and the Big Life Foundation, Conservation International is aiming to put tens of thousands of hectares of Chyulu Hills savannah woodland and grassland under restoration by 2025.

The initiative also aims to serve as a demonstration site for other landscapes to emulate, and therefore catalyze the adoption of cost-effective, high-impact landscape restoration practices. Restoring natural landscapes is one of the only cost-effective and immediately available ways of removing climate-warming carbon from the atmosphere at scale.

Historically, restoration has been carried out by directly planting trees and grasses in degraded areas — an expensive approach. In the Chyulu Hills, Conservation International is exploring “natural regeneration”: the potential of ecosystems to regenerate naturally using good community governance, with minimal or no need for direct planting. Recent science has shown that such approaches can reduce costs by at least half, while the conservation gains can be tripled.


Among southeast Kenya’s arid landscape, one verdant place stands out: the #ChyuluHills This vast expanse of green vegetation not only provides a habitat for some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife, but also acts as a critical water tower for nearby communities, livestock and wildlife. Over hundreds of years, the Maasai have forged a deep connection with the #ChyuluHills, and now they are working to protect and restore this vital landscape. Witness the collaborative work of communities and conservationists alike to ensure a healthy future for the Chyulu Hills in the newest film from National Geographic photographer and filmmaker Ami Vitale, Sprout Films, Dane Henry and Conservation International. The Chyulu Hills REDD+ project is owned and managed by locals. Help them stop deforestation of forests like Chyulu by buying carbon credits. Key to the success of the Chyulu Hills initiative is a strong collaboration of nine local groups that make-up the Chyulu Hills Conservation Trust: -Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust -Big Life Foundation -Sheldrick Wildlife Trust -Kenya Wildlife Service -Kenya Forest Service -Maasai Group Ranches: Kulu A, Kuku B, Rombo, Mbirikani

Helping fight climate change

Restoring the approximately 900 million hectares of degraded rangelands to natural savanna across Africa could potentially remove billions of tons of atmospheric carbon dioxide while benefiting people and wildlife.

Partnering with Apple

This initiative is helping to develop a new approach to restoring nature in Africa and beyond. Through this investment Apple is supporting new methodologies for driving down the cost of restoration, increasing the effectiveness of restoration best-practices, and attracting the diverse partners needed to restore and reforest landscapes. 

If successful, this new approach could demonstrate how to put tens of thousands of hectares under restoration at a fraction of the cost of past methods, while improving the well-being of thousands of Maasai. What’s more, this approach can serve as a model for restoring communal rangeland across Africa and demonstrate how to fight climate change while supporting rural livelihoods in a changing world.


Our partners in the Chyulu Hills Conservation Trust include The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, Big Life Foundation, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and Maasai Group Ranches (Kuku A, Kuku B, Rombo, Mbirikani).