Trees: a great investment

Kenya has a forest cover estimated at 1.7% and shrinking. Yet, tree planting is actually a great investment opportunity that has remained under-appreciated in many parts of the country.

Depending on how you space the tree seedlings at planting and when you harvest the trees, there is a market for them. After 3 -4 years, you can harvest and sell the trees at 1 – – 4,000 shillings each for firewood or from 5 – 8 years, you can sell them off at 6,000 shillings per tree for poles. This can translate to profits of between 1 million and 6 million shillings per acre ($13,000 – $80,000 per acre) all from an initial crop of tree seedlings that can be bought for about 10 shillings each. One also has to factor in the opportunity cost of not growing maize or other cash/food crops over the years on the land, but these tend to have high annual production costs. Also, one advantage of trees is that they can be planted on undesirable or uncultivated land.

Major buyers of trees include tea factories (who use firewood to process tea leaves), Kenya Power & Lighting Company, East African Cables, Telkom (for poles), and numerous saw millers and local wood vendors.

Two main ones are fire and pests/disease which can wipe out a mature crop of trees. Also one must also protect land from squatters, who may destroy trees for firewood, or to build homes in what they consider to be “unoccupied forest” land, or whose grazing animals may eat young tree seedlings.

Numerous advances have been made in research to speed up tree growth, and new fast-growing hybrids of trees from South Africa and Australia can be easily obtained. Some of the trees being planted around the country by enterprising land owners include Pinus, cypress eucalyptus grandis, and blue gum.

the Future
One farmer told me that he has no worries about funding his kids university education in ten years time and even recommended that parents should plant one acre of trees per child to cater for the cost of their upbringing and education.

17 thoughts on “Trees: a great investment

  1. Kibet

    lol! Are you certain that our Nobel Laureate won’t zusha when i start felling my thriving trees, after many years of patient waiting and tending to the investment?

    But really, if the figures are that high per acre, its amazingly lucrative!

  2. kipepeo

    its a great idea. my parents have planted hundreds of blue gums and there’s a type of clone tree that sprouts after its felled and survives better than ordinary ones. Its great! great post!

  3. Jeremy Cherfas

    Came here via Tangled Bank. Interesting perspective, but there are even more benefits than the purely financial. Are you aware of the work that the World Agroforestry Centre — based in Nairobi! — is doing?

  4. Anonymous

    you can also benefit from your trees by applying to be paid for your carbon credits( just google it). this involves measuring the amount of carbon dioxide you trees have absorbed from the atmosphere.

  5. Bygones

    KPLC/Telkom buys mature trees (for poles) from special blue gum varient from SA at cost of at 10K a pole.I know a farmer who made 2M from 2 acres of tree 4 years in Kericho.

  6. Benin "Mwangi"


    That sounds familiar. I know, have an uncle who owns acres and acres of timber, but not in Kenya-he’s in the low lying tropical-like region of South Carolina, US. Although, there are many people here in the States who don’t fancy such types of lifestyles, my uncle makes an awfully good living and does not have to worry about finances.

    So, although I’m not familiar with the timber industry in Kenya what you’re saying sounds like very practical and wise investment move, for the long haul.

  7. Anonymous

    Sounds interesting.

    Do you know aprox. how many trees people plant per acre?

    Do you know how they space them?

  8. Anonymous

    I would like to know which company buys trees from farmers, treats then sells to kplc.I was told kplc does not buy trees directly from farmers but treated poles from various companies, do you know these companies?

  9. Anonymous

    The tree planting is a good thing, but just think about it. Farmers will just get this amount we think are high because they can never access the international market by themselves. And if we are planting them as Carbon sinks, it just gives Americans, Canadians and Australians a chance to continue building thier industries. You see, we plant trees they continue developing themselves, this conservation business is just a whole new neocolonialism.

  10. Teddy Kinyanjui

    Hello everybody from Renewable Energy Systems Kenya( Anyone who want to plant trees, sustainable harvest them, learn about carbon credits and energy saving stoves, the Kenya Arboretum Project etc. have a look!
    From detailed research on the production, management, and processing of wood fuels, to new and original designs of charcoal and wood powered stoves and ovens, RESKQU, continues to pioneer clean, affordable, energy alternatives to all people.
    Trees planted to date 1,700,000 in conjunction with the Woodlands 2000 Trust(from 2001)
    Energy Saving Cookstoves sold nation wide last year~ 27,000 KCJ units~ 2,500 Charcoal Ovens
    Keep Planting and Support local renewable Energy Industries!
    Teddy Kinyanjui

  11. Anonymous

    pls am interested in planting 15000 eucalyptus trees on my land in Ndhiwa-Homabay district. How can i protest them against this disease which makes theirleaves corl up and stunts their growth? Where can i get the hybbrid species.

  12. Audun -

    Better Globe is now helping Kenya and Uganda attract tree investors globally, with more African countries to follow. They are also helping poor farmers with water and water management and Child Africa with funds to build schools. Better Globe are now developing a protocol for Makau trees that will provide cheap seedlings for poor famers that want to profit from planting trees. Feel free to learn more at or

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