David Kuria was raised on the periphery of the Kikuyu Escarpment Forest on southern side of the Aberdares in Central Kenya. Seeing how this forest was undergoing rapid changes resulting from unsustainable human activities, he established a community-based conservation forum, Kijabe Environment Volunteers (KENVO), which he has steered over a decade from humble beginning into a professional grassroots’ conservation forum.
KENVO has become a leading authority in rehabilitation of local indigenous forest through tree planting, community awareness and education, research and information dissemination, lobbying and advocacy. His work has focused on the improvement of livelihoods and the environment in his own community, two goals which he believes are not mutually exclusive. He takes a inclusive approach which allowed for the participation of groups (women and youth) who have traditionally been more marginalised.
He has mobilized members of the local communities through KENVO to set up various conservation initiatives including tree planting schemes resulting to reforestation of 500 hectares of formally the degraded forest. An extensive environmental education programme has reached over 30,000 students who have by planted more than 80,000 trees in their schools or farms
Due to his vast experience in community development and reforestation activities, Kuria was hired in 2009 by East African Wild Life Society in Partnership with UNEP, Nature Kenya and Kenya Forests Working Group to develop a forest and environment conservation facility that establishes partnerships between community, private sector and conservation practitioners. He is now coordinating the activities of this facility reaching other communities to establish similar models to KENVO throughout the country.
David believes that effective solutions to the environmental issues facing his community will only be resolved through empowerment of the wider population and especially the most vulnerable.