Nairobi Arboretum was established in 1907 by Mr. Batiscombe, then Deputy Conservator of Forests, to try out introduced forestry trees for Kenya. It was gazetted as a national reserve in 1932 and in 1996 a title deed issued by Commissioner of land designating it as a public owned reserve. It was a trial plot for fast growing exotic tree species, to meet the high demand of fuel wood required for the newly constructed Kenya- Uganda railway line and thus help save Kenya’s indigenous forests. Under the stewardship of a succession of foresters, seeds were obtained from all over the globe and planted in an effort to compile a comprehensive collection of indigenous and exotic trees and shrubs.
The initial trial plot gradually developed into an arboretum:“a living collection of trees”.
The Arboretum occupies 30 hectares and holds over 350 tree species; it is home to over 100 species of resident and migrant birds, a multitude of insects, reptiles and small mammals, notably the playful Vervet and Sykes monkeys.
The Arboretum is one of Nairobi’s few remaining green spaces, with shaded walkways, picnic lawns and jogging trails. It is situated about 3km from the city centre. The Arboretum is under the management of Kenya Forest Service (formerly Forestry Department) with the help of FONA – Community Forest Association for Nairobi Arboretum Forest Reserve.