Creating Paradise From Wastelands: LAFARGE Eco Systems

Owen & Mzee: The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff and Dr. Paula Kahumbu The vision of Lafarge Eco Systems is to create paradise from wastelands. They invented the wheel when it comes to rehabilitation of quarries in Kenya. They have been taking exhausted, barren limestone quarries, and turning them into premier attractions for over three decades. Quarries that they have restored have won international acclaim for best practice. Their parent company has won awards for its stewardship of the environment and Dr Rene Haller, their founder, won recognition from the UN for his outstanding work. After thirty years of experience and repeated successes behind them, they realize it is time to pass on the lessons. They aim to become an internationally recognized reference in tropical ecosystem restoration and the sustainable management of restored landscapes. They are already at the forefront of this cutting edge science and will continue to develop and improve in order to stay there. Lafarge is committed to environmental and social responsibility. Central to its success in the cement business, is an unequivocal understanding that Lafarge’s capacity to repair the damage caused by its mining activities is its license to operate. Lafarge cannot turn its neighbors against it, it cannot soil its own nests, for then Lafarge would have no future. The new ecosystems must be enduring; it would be no good planting trees only for them to die in a few years due to ecosystem weaknesses or financial constraints. Lafarge Eco Systems operates with a keen awareness of the “bottom line”; they must be both environmentally and economically sustainable. They seek to not only to repair the land, but also to improve it, make it better than it was before quarrying begun. The result is more than just a green space, it is a living laboratory that is rich with diversity and shows us much about the way ecosystems function. They are reservoirs of endangered species in a region where biodiversity is shrinking quickly. They are open classrooms, inspiring young and old alike to take an interest in nature and the value of the environment. And they are paradise for the hundreds of thousands of visitors seeking refuge from the chaos of a post-industrial world.

Nature Trails

In restoring the land after quarrying is completed, Lafarge Eco Systems has managed to create a safe haven for the biodiversity from within and around Mombasa. Today, the biggest problem facing any species is the fast loss of habitat due to many reasons, population growth being forefront. Lafarge Eco Systems’ Nature Trails serve three purposes. Firstly, they provide a secure location that allows many and different species to thrive without the threats that otherwise face them outside this sanctuary. Secondly, they allow residents and visitors to Mombasa a space away from the fast growing and extremely busy town to relax. Thirdly, the Forest Trails allow visitors to see the present wildlife and flora thus allowing them appreciate the importance of rehabilitation work Lafarge Eco Systems carries out.

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by Reviewer
Primates abound, feeding on the fruiting figs and other trees. You will definitely see active troops of Black-faced Vervet Monkeys. If you are lucky you might also spot the shyer Sykes Monkeys, also known as the Diademed Guenon. Bush Squirrels can be seen scurrying along the paths sometimes.At night, the child-like calls of the Greater Bushbaby ring out through the trees. The Lesser Bushbaby is also found here, but being an insect-eater, it is less easily spotted.At night too one might just glimpse a Bushpig. These skulking animals shelter during the day in the deepest thickets. They emerge at night to feed on fallen fruit and dig for roots in small groups. Hedgehogs also come out at night, searching for insects and juicy earthworms.