Zuti Forest is located in Central, Kenya. This forest got its name from the Thuti River. Hence Thuti Forest. The white man could not pronounce the name properly and coined the version Zuti. The River flows down joining with other rivers that form the Tana River; the longest river in Kenya. The Zuti forest Forms part of the southern Aberdares block which also includes Gatangu, Kihuri, Njigari, and Gura forests. Aberdare environs play a very role in water catchment function. It is one of the five main “water towers” in Kenya. The other four water towers include Mt Kenya, Mt. Elgon Mau Complex, and Cherangani Hills
Before the onset of colonialism, the Agikuyu people who settled in these areas used to manage the forest. They had their own set of rules and systems for controlling access to and utilizing forestry resources (Ithaka/githaka). Importantly, the Agikuyu people used the forest in various ways to sustain their livelihood. These included shifting cultivation methods of growing traditional foods and other consumptive activities. Grazing, firewood collection and herbs collection, honey, and wild fruit gathering serving as examples of these activities
There were Sacred groves. Elders conducted Traditional religious ceremonies here. Such ceremonies included sacrifices for abundant harvests, for rain, and rites of passage, and burial ceremonies for elders.
The natives were forced t0 move to concentration camps. Their Ithaka (Land) was confiscated. This angered most of Kikuyu in the areas and beyond. This resulted in the MAU MAU uprising in the 1950s. Zuti forest played a crucial role as a sanctuary for the Mau Mau warriors. The main objective of the uprising was to get back their land (Ithaka). Importantly to liberate the country from the yokes of the British Colonizers.
Zuti forest is among the many stations within the larger Aberdare Ecosystem. In 1943, it was gazetted under legal notice No.48.The major goal was forest conservation and development. It has an area of 8254.94 Ha covered by Natural forest, Plantations, Bushland, Bamboo, and Grassland. In Addition, the forest has many attractive sites such as waterfalls, camping areas, and viewpoints that can be used for Eco-tourism. The forest is rich in biodiversity including the endangered Mountain Bongo, Giant forest hog, and Octotea usambarensis tree species.
The forest station is located at 0°31’60” N and 36°52’0? E. The Highest elevation of Zuti forest is approximately 2099 Metre above sea level. Zuti forest is typical of a moderately cool and wet climate. The mean maximum temperature is 250C and the mean minimum temperature is 100C. The coldest months are between June and August. The forest is an important water catchment area for perennial rivers, including Gura, Gikira, Mathioya, Gatangu; Chinga, Kamunyu, Kahiti; Changachicha Mumwe South, and many more streams. The rivers from this side of Aberdare feed into the Tana River drainage basin, which is vital to Kenya,s hydropower.
Participatory Forest Management Plan(PFMP).
After the enactment of the Forests Act No.7 (2005), later repealed to Forest Conservation and Management Act 2016. The adjacent community formed Zuti Community Forest Association in 2007. The members are involved in forest management and conservation activities. Includes protection, policing, firefighting, and carrying out silvicultural operations in the plantations. Importantly, any other activity can uplift their livelihood. This is as long as it is indicated in Participatory Forest Management Plan(PFMP).
In line with PFMP, some community and conservation programs include the rehabilitation of degraded forest sites. on the other hand, the community wishes to create trails in the forest. This will help achieve an objective in creating sustainable eco-tourism in the area.
Some of the already established trails include:-