By Ruth Seward and Mwangi Chege
One of WTI’s tree stewards, Mwangi Chege, is a PhD candidate at Clark University. Mwangi grew up in Nairobi, Kenya where he developed a passion for urban trees. After spending time planting and caring for trees in the city, he enrolled in Clark University’s Geography PhD program focusing on urban geography.
Mwangi attended our Master Tree Stewards Class Series in Fall 2018 and is now an integral part of the WTI Tree Stewards Team. Last fall, he helped coordinate volunteers for our planting at University Park in Main South, Worcester. and identified trees with us at Hadwen Arboretum. This past spring, he helped us plant trees at Memorial Grove and on May Street in Worcester. He even joined the team to plant trees on the common in Clinton before his semester ended this past spring and he was back in Kenya – planting more urban trees!
“Planting trees in Nairobi is so different compared to here in Massachusetts,” Mwangi explains. “Some of the threats facing juvenile trees in Nairobi include livestock like goats that enjoy nibbling away at the young, green leaves. As street trees mature, they also face threats from billboard operators who prune them recklessly so they don’t obstruct views to the billboards. Part of the work I hope to do is to advocate for trees as an asset to the city, and a vital part of the urban fabric.”
As more developing countries like Kenya experience rapid urbanization, the need to grow and maintain urban forests will only become more urgent. It’s great to see the lessons in tree stewardship learned in Massachusetts having an impact in Nairobi, Kenya.