The Haller Foundation 2004 -2006
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For several years this was the website for the Haller Foundation.
Content is from the site's 2004 -2006 archived pages.

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The Haller Foundation is a new charity. Founded in 2004 we are registered in the UK, but work at the grass roots level with individuals and communities in townships and rural areas in Kenya. Its goals are to help individuals and families break out of the poverty trap. By providing education and training in sustainable agriculture, and community based wildlife and conservation initiatives, The Haller Foundation offers Africans the skills to become self sufficient, and by supporting small scale enterprises, the potential to become 'barefoot entrepreneurs'

Working in partnership with The Baobab Trust, a Kenyan NGO, we use Dr Rene Haller's expertise in the regeneration of degraded landscapes such as The Haller park in Mombasa , to provide an innovative , and economically viable approach to our projects. 



  • Education and training

  • Seeing is believing - we show and tell

  • Helping people to help themselves

  • Making projects pay their way

  • Finding the best environmental solution.



One module of the farmers field school training - how to use discarded tyres to grow cash crops when land is in short supply. After training  this woman's collective set up a tree nursery selling seedlings and young plants. Community kiln for the production of jiko mbili - one stick cooking pots - enviromentally friendly with very little wood needed for cooking. Jiko mbili - unique energy efficient cooking pots sold by a community enterprise

Louise Piper talks about why the Haller Foundation was set up.

"The idea of setting up the Haller Foundation came in 2002, after visiting Dr. Rene Haller in Kenya. I knew of his work through his son Guido Haller - a colleague, and friend, in the investment banking world. After twenty years in the industry, I felt it was time for a change. Guido persuaded me to go to Kenya and see the unique and fascinating project his father has led for the last forty years.

"Rene's story, of transforming the bare rocky ground from open limestone quarries, into a landscape of forests, lakes, wetlands and savannah, fascinated me. My challenge became clear. Very simply - how could I help to keep this legacy going and perhaps even replicate it in other places? The idea of setting up a fund raising organisation came into being.

"Rene had already set up the Baobab Trust, a Kenyan charity involved in  education and training, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. I am a trustee of the Baobab Trust - but also believed that an internationally registered foundation would be able to help in fund raising and communicating the Haller principles and values to a wide audience.

"My first step was to start pulling together some Trustees to help me get the project going. Rene, suggested Julia Hailes, who had spent some time working with him in the mid 1990s. She was immensely enthusiastic and her knowledge and experience in the environmental world have been in-valuable. There are now seven trustees on the board including our latest recruit, Ian Davies.  He is an international expert in sustainable development, working for English Nature and responsible for setting up the largest landscape restoration project in Europe - the Cornish Heathland Rehabilitation Project.

"The Trustees have been  integral to setting the objectives and governance of the Haller Foundation. Each trustee has an individual area of responsibility and will lead different projects from initiation to implementation and monitoring. We will be seeking patronage from appropriate individuals as the foundation becomes established


 A colleague in the banking world asked me 'why we had a worm as our logo!' We felt that of all the players in the ecological miracle that lay behind the transformation of the quarries, the millipede played a hugely significant role. They feed on the Casuarina needles which are the only tree species able to thrive in the harsh barren landscape of the limestone quarries.. The droppings of the millipedes and the introduction of compost bacteria convert to humus and this was the start of Dr. Rene Haller's man-made eco-system experiment.

Dr Rene Haller

The Bamburi quarry in 1976

Dr. Rene Haller is a Swiss naturalist. He trained in horticulture, landscaping and tropical agronomy and first came to Africa in 1956 to manage a coffee plantation in Tanzania. Three years later he joined Bamburi Cement Company to establish a garden department capable of producing enough food for the factory employees. In the early 1970's the Bamburi Cement Company gave Rene Haller the mandate to try to restore the scarred landscapes left by the limestone quarrying used in the manufacture of cement. Using an entirely sustainable approach, 250hectares (almost 7 sq Km)  of quarried land which was completely inhospitable, and which would have taken hundreds of years to regenerate, have been restored.

"Crazy Swiss chap planting trees on rock."


The Haller Park today

The quarries are now an inter-linked combination of lakes, wetlands and savannah grasslands, with walking and cycling trails, as well as a Nature Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. The area has been renamed The Haller Park and demonstrates how degraded landscapes can be restored and become an asset for visitors and local communities alike. Close to Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city the park attracts 100,000 visitors and local residents each year.

Not only is the park stunning visually, it has become an educational showcase on the possibilities of restoration. Part of the Dr Haller approach is that 'ecology and economy have to be self sustaining'. He set about persuading local communities that sustainable land use was viable by introducing many income generating initiatives. The park has over forty different income sources from bee-keeping, tree planting, nurseries, fish farming and an integrated aqua-culture system and many other sustainable agriculture and wildlife utilization practices . The Park is also unique as it contains a reservoir of endangered species (over 30 from the IUCN's endangered species list ) but also 180 species of indigenous trees, 30 species of mammals, 160 species of birds, butterflies and reptiles. With an educational pavilion, and  trained guides to explain the history and development of the park it is an educational asset for school and universities both in Kenya and abroad. 

 Scenes in The Haller Park today



 Although now retired from the Bamburi Cement Company, Dr Haller remains involved as a scientific advisor for ongoing restoration. The Haller Park is now managed by Lafarge Eco Systems 

 In 1991 he set up the Baobab Trust a Kenyan based NGO to further his work in the field of sustainable agriculture and conservation, focusing on providing education and training to enable communities to be able to provide a stable and long term source of food.   The Trust is now the main vehicle for Dr. Rene Haller's activities and will be one of the beneficiaries of funds raised by the Haller Foundation with whom it will partner on some projects.

Over his lifetime he has received a number of international accolades and awards for his environmental work

  • In 1987 Dr. Haller was awarded the prestigious Global 500 Roll of Honour by the United Nations, for his 'outstanding environmental achievements'. 
  •  1991 the Swiss Brandenberger prize, as well as an Honorary Doctor's degree from the University of Basle. 
  •  In April 2003, he was appointed to the board of the Kenyan Wildlife service and in 2004 acted as interim Chairman between for 6 months
  • The SKAL international award for the development of eco-tourism in Kenya.




AN ASIDE: I first learned about the Heller Park when I was on a two month long extended tour of many of Kenya’s national parks and reserves. It's the quality of Kenya's parks and reserves that make Kenya the most popular safari destination in Africa. The best known reserves are Masai Mara Reserve, Amboseli National Park, Tsavo National Park , Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Nairobi National Park, Samburu, Shaba and Buffalo Springs National Reserves, and the Lake Nakuru National Park. Our group visited the Heller Park, since a member of the group was part of the Heller Foundation and wanted us to see the result of Dr. Haller’s vision. The park is home to a million trees, monkeys, birds and insects. Also found there are thirty species identified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered flora and fauna. Now some folks may be disappointed when they visit the park since it lacks the majesty and expanse of the larger nature reserves, but that is missing the point. This is a park. I found the park’s history fascinating.

When I returned to the states, friends asked if I could talk about the trip and show pictures of my travels. I accepted and invited about 20 people to come over for a pot luck dinner and a Kenya Trip presentation. One couple, J & T, whom I expected to RSVP immediately, instead said that they must decline the invite. I was surprised, but later learned that T was starting a new program that would help him stop the excessive drinking alcohol that we all knew was occurring.

J texted me to take a look at a website called LifeBac and to look at the program they are offering. In her text she said that he was on a FDA approved drug called baclofen that has emerged as a promising drug for AUD. Currently it is only FDA approved for the treatment of spasticity (spasms, cramping, and extreme tightness of muscles) in people with multiple sclerosis ages 12 and older. However, Baclofen is the go-to treatment for AUD in France and Australia. I wished all the success for T and asked to be kept up to date as to how the program was going.

Apparently he was once again attempting to end his downward spiral of alcohol abuse. J called to say that T was on a new drug called baclofen that requires titration. He was suffering from the initial side effects of nausea, diarrhea, and dizziness which supposedly would disappear after his body acclimated to the correct dosage. I had never heard of baclofen and looked it up. Baclofen is normally used to treat muscle spasms, stiffness, and other back conditions usually associated with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. However scientist had discovered that baclofen's action on the GABA receptors in the brain help lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms for alcohol. Preliminary open-label studies from Italy demonstrated effectiveness of baclofen in reducing alcohol use among the alcoholics. In addition, results from a clinical study conducted by Brown University show alcohol-addicted participants receiving baclofen were able to abstain from drinking for longer periods of time than those who didn’t receive the drug. It has not yet received approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe and effective treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders, but doctors in Europe have been prescribing it as the primary treatment for people who drink excessively. Six months later when J & T came over, the change in T was noticeable. His treatment program at LifeBac, a website that is not a rehab center but instead a collection of modern, science-based tools to empower people control their drinking impluses, still allows the consumption of alcohol. I was astounded. But baclofen removes urge to over-drink and it sure seemed to be successful for T.

We had a pleasant evening and J & T were so impressed with my Kenya travels that they have decided to start planning a safari excursion to Kenya. If you are on the Kenya coast in the Bamburi, Mombasa area, I encourage you to make a day trip to the park. I told them. And also look up the Heller Foundation, they are doing some great things for Sub-Saharan Africa.






The Haller Foundation has chosen its first three projects to support in Kenya:

 Farmer Field School Training Programmes

Following  a highly successful 18-month pilot programme we are now seeking funding to establish long term permanent demonstration farms where  field school programmes can be held. 

These are run for small scale farmers, women in the community, and displaced industrial workers who wish to learn and practise new small scale agriculture. The aim of the programmes are to demonstrate  sustainable land use techniques which enable them to become self sufficient without damaging the environment. This is for many their first step up the economic ladder, being able to grow enough food for their own use and to sell. Using the principle 'seeing is believing' participants are given hands on teaching at an organic demonstration farm.

Training is offered in three day courses covering 

  • The use of low cost alternative technologies in sustainable agriculture with many ideas pioneered and tested during the thirty years Dr Haller worked on the regeneration of the Bamburi Quarries

  • The principles of organic farming

  • Integrated fish/irrigation systems 

  • Water conservation and well management

  • Tree planting and bee keeping

  • Livestock husbandry with animal leasing opportunities

  • Integrated crop production 

 All sessions include a module on family planning and HIV awareness.


The  Haller Foundation is seeking funding to establish an environmental education centre at the entrance to Nguuni Nature Sanctuary. This is a stunning nature reserve and one of Rene Haller's flagship bio-diversity restorations. It is home to many species of indigenous trees, animals, butterflies, birds and insects and currently offers bird watching tours, walking safaris and nature trails. It is also the only place where the successful practise of  the domestication and utilisation of Eland and Oryx can be observed. However with increasing pressure on land-use around Mombasa, Kenya's second largest city the sanctuary has become surrounded by shanty town whose 30,000 inhabitants live in appalling conditions in desperate poverty. The Haller Foundation is raising funds for an environmental education centre which would be an invaluable asset for this community.

The project has been established in consultation with the residents of this shanty town and will offer some tremendous facilities. It will contain a children's reference library - since the 50 schools which surround Nguuni have very little in the way of books and basic materials. The centre will provide both residents and visitors the opportunity for education and training, will allow them to see and participate in film screenings, and displays and talks on local environmental issues. Once established the centre will provide employment and a livelihood for many of the adult residents of the shanty town  who will be able to run environmental and cultural projects from there. 

Just outside the sanctuary there will be opportunities for residents from  the surrounding areas to build units for the production of craft, woodwork, educational and cultural workshops and other activities from which they can create items for sale. We are seeking funding to work with local residents to transform the area outside the sanctuary by building covered walkways and paths leading to the park. This will encourage  accessibility to the sanctuary and help local residents to earn a livelihood by capitalising on tourism, building  collective enterprises and trading opportunities.

Mining Landscape Restoration Project

The third project the Haller Foundation has selected is to encourage best practises in mining rehabilitation and environmental restoration. Mining is an important industry, capable of meeting society's needs, creating substantial wealth and social progress. Sadly in many cases the true costs are very great, and unsustainable. The resulting mining legacy, the adverse environmental, social and economic impacts of poor sustainable development practices is a very global issue and very relevant to Kenya and equatorial East Africa. 

Good practices of responsible mining activity such as at Bamburi are leading the way by showing how past legacy can be restored. The Haller foundation is working with industry and with key partners to promote rehabilitation best practices using the Bamburi rehabilitation project to showcase what can be achieved. The foundation aims to identify and asses the impact of existing and potential legacy sites across Kenya. This baseline is a key starting point for an educational campaign and practical action to get good practice post-mining regeneration and environmental restoration in place in Kenya. To achieve this we will work with partners from all sectors of society including industry, government and local communities.


The Bamburi Rehabilitation Project

Taken from
Haller, R.D. Transformation of Wasteland into a self-sustaining Forest and Wetland Ecosystem -


The Bamburi Cement Factory was initially built by Cementia Holding, Zurich. In 1990 Lafarge, Paris, became the majority share holder of Cementia Holding, and became one of the major shareholders with Blue Circle Industries. With the take-over of Blue Circle by Lafarge, Lafarge owns 73% of Bamburi Cement Ltd. Quarrying began in 1954 and continues to day.

Dr Haller was given the mandate to begin rehabilitation in 1970.With the view that the limestone quarry had to be economically self-sustaining, two main projects were undertaken: 1. a forestry project with the long-term vision to re-create a diverse, ecologically as well as economically self-sustaining indigenous coastal forest ; and 2. an aquaculture project, aiming at short-term economical return through fish sales.


The transformed Bamburi Cement coral limestone quarry runs for 7km parallel to the Indian Ocean, starting 8km north of Mombasa Island in Kenya. An area of 300ha of Pleistocene coral limestone have been mined and burnt to cement, leaving behind a wasteland of splintered coral rock. (A deposit of Jurassic sediments a few kilometres inland provides shale.) The excavation extends 10m downwards to the slightly saline groundwater. The groundwater is connected to the ocean through the porous coral rock. Its levels fluctuate slightly with the sea tides. As the ground water evaporates from the bare quarry floor salt crystallizes on the surface, making for an inhospitable environment for any living creature.

"Secondary bush-land" covered the area before the quarrying activity began. This had a low biodiversity and was of a low ecological value. It was largely unproductive, as the vegetation was mostly unpalatable for domestic livestock and the bush-land was heavily infested with tsetse flies, the transmitters of the lethal nagana disease (trypanosomiasis) in domestic ruminants.

In 1971 the rehabilitation of the quarry commenced with experiments on a trial and error basis, to find the right tree species to re-colonise the area. This was followed by a systematic search for the best methods to transform the quarry into an ecologically and economically self-sustaining forest and wetland system. Dr Haller decided at the outset to rehabilitate the quarry naturally, avoiding pesticides and mineral fertilizers in the belief that if this was successful, then the approach could be adopted more broadly as a model for landscape regeneration which could be adopted by local communities who may not have access to fertilisers and pesticides.


The Forest System - As there was not sufficient soil available for a conventional greening of the quarry, a pioneer tree had to be found which would grow in the limestone rubble without humus, be tolerant of salinity, and produce large amounts of leaf litter for humus formation. Also, its commercial value for firewood and timber had to be considered. The Casuarina equisetifolia was selected. It grows on the sand dunes close to the Indian Ocean shoreline. The Casuarinas are evergreen trees which constantly drop and renew their foliage. The leaves are reduced to tiny tips and the green needle-like photosynthesizing branchlets are well protected against water loss through evaporation. With the help of symbiotic micro-organisms the Casuarina can fix atmospheric nitrogen and dissolve other nutrients from the rocky substrate. Casuarina trees grow very fast and can reach 2 metres within six months, providing enough shade to reduce evaporation and salt crystallization. Falling "needles" accumulate densely under the trees. Their high tannin content inhibits normal decomposition by micro-organisms. Indigenous red-legged millipedes, Epibolus pulchripes, were introduced. Their main diet is leaf litter and they experienced no problem with the tannin. Once Casuarina "needles" have passed through the millipedes' guts micro-organisms can convert their droppings into humus. All animals required for humus production were introduced from the remaining forest and bush-land along the Kenya Coast.

  With humus available other vegetation could be established. When selecting the species for the second generation of trees, there were three main criteria. Trees of a potential economic value were sought, as the forest has to be self-sustainable economically as well as ecologically. A second criterion is the "biodiversity value" of the plants as food or habitat for other organisms, from fungi, epiphytic plants to a variety of animals, from small invertebrates to butterflies and mammals. The third criterion is the plant's conservation status. Of the plant species introduced so far, 18 are classified as rare, endangered or vulnerable in the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Plants (1997).

Over the years invertebrates, mammals and birds in large numbers have been attracted by the new habitats and feeding niches. The animals missing for the right predator and prey relation were collected and introduced. It was important to increase the plant and animal diversity as fast as possible, to create a stable system.

Wetland and Water System Small lakes, ponds and swamps were excavated and habitats for fish, birds and reptiles created. Rock groups and islands were established. Wherever possible water bodies and swamps were inter-connected by channels for the free movement of aquatic organisms. In a larger lake hippopotami were introduced to keep the water-body healthy and prevent it from silting, as well as to accelerate fish production for the commercial integrated aquaculture system. Fish, crocodile and rice production are an important part of the established wetlands. Tilapia fish are marketed locally. Crocodiles are grown on waste meat from the farm and surrounding slaughterhouses to produce meat for the local market and skins for the overseas market.


After a few years  a layer of humus, 10-25cm thick has developed on the quarry floor. 320 indigenous trees and shrub species from the coastal forest have been established.  More than 180 species of fungi have been collected, though most of them not yet identified. Birds, bats and monkeys are constantly introducing new plant species. The original Casuarina forest is slowly being replaced by a variety of broad-leaved trees. Over the past 15  years over 2 million trees have been planted in the quarries, among them several valuable hardwood timber trees and several rare and endangered species. 30 mammal species have found food and shelter in the new sanctuary. 260 bird species were identified in and around the rehabilitation area and 30 species of butterflies. Other groups of organisms have not yet been surveyed.

Herds of eland and oryx antelopes have been introduced to utilize the agriculturally unproductive reserve land of the cement factory, and to act as seed dispersers from the original bush- and grassland into the disused, open quarries.

The former quarry, known today as the Bamburi Quarry Nature Park, is now a major environmental education centre for Kenya, and was visited by over 130,000 people in 2004. Used by students and schools from all over the country as a showcase for environmental rehabiliation, it is also a prime attraction for local communities It is one of the few green areas around Mombasa that they can escape to from the city - and enjoy some of the recreational and educational  facilities on offer.  Dr Haller is now retired, and the Park is now managed by Lafarge Ecosystems. See


The project is now ecologically and economically self-sustaining. The successful long-term experiment has proved that the rehabilitation of a man-made wasteland on sound organic principles is viable. A business, like the cement industry, can leave behind an ecologically more valuable ecosystem than the one it originally consumed. A symbiosis between industry and nature has been achieved.

2004 -2005 News

August 2005  The Haller Park is selected by the International Council of Mining and Metals as an example of best practice in post mining regeneration.

July 2005  Unique opportunity for volunteers to work on projects in Nguuni Nature Sanctuary in October 2005.  For details see 

May 2005 The Haller Foundation is awarded a British Airways Communities and Conservation Award  for  2005


November 2004   The Haller Foundation is in dialogue with the Australian Centre for Mining and Metals research (ACMER) to promote the Haller Park as a contender in the World Conservation Union's global top ten best mining rehabilitation sites. Results to be announced soon.

September 2004 Dr Rene Haller appointed interim Chairman of the Kenyan Wildlife Service

 August 2004 HF trustees  visit Eden Project for advisory session

 Some of the HF trustees visited the Eden project in Cornwall to take up their generous offer to spend time with the Haller Foundation and give advice on strategy and fund raising. We met with Tony Kendle and Caroline Digby. Tony has been involved with the Eden project since it's outset and is one of the six foundation directors.  Caroline who joined more recently will be working with the mining and minerals sector to establish industry wide  best practises in post mining regeneration.

HF trustees Ian Davies, Julia Hailes and Louise Piper with the Eden Project directors Tony Kendle and Caroline Digb


JULY 2004- Ian Davies joins the HF Board of Trustees .Ian is a professional conservationist  working with English Nature in Cornwall.  He has been responsible for setting up the largest landscape restoration project in Europe - the Cornish Heathland Rehabilitation Project and has raised £10 million of funding.


May 2004  Haller Foundation makes first disbursment

The Haller Foundation has raised enough funds through donations and sponsored events to be able to send donations to initiate three projects in Kenya

  • It will be funding two training programmes for up to 12 Kenyans in sustainable agriculture.
  • Helping to fund the building of the model fish and irrigation systems which will be used in the demonstration farm as part of the farmers training programme.
  • Funding towards the provision of new wildlife bomas to enable the transfer of seven giraffe  to  Nguuni Wildlife Park.

Transferring the giraffe to Nguuni Nature reserve.

May 2004 - HF sends volunteer to Kenya to re-organise research material

Jon Sheppard, an environmental sciences graduate is heading for Bamburi.  He will spend three months organising the research library for the Baobab Trust and has raised £2,500 for the trip.  Over the past 20 years many PHD and other students have spent time working with Dr. Rene Haller and the Baobab Trust, carrying out botanical, biological and zoological research.  One of Jonathan's tasks will be to collate and sort the reports and publish some of their most significant findings on the Baobab Trust website -

May 2004 - Dr. Rene Haller comes to London for Trustees meeting

Dr. Rene Haller was able to be in London for his first Trustee meeting.  All the current Trustees were present - Victoria Cliff-Hodges, Julia Hailes, Guido Haller, Francesca Muller and Louise Piper.  The meeting was also attended by two visitors,  Ian Davies, who works for English Nature and is responsible for the Cornish Heathland Regeneration Project, and Clive Farrell, a leading butterfly expert, who is currently setting up a large-scale butterfly exhibition centre near St Albans in Hertfordshire.

March 2004 - HF Trustees meet Charlotte de Vita from Trade Plus Aid

Haller Foundation Trustees, Louise Piper and Julia Hailes meet Charlotte de Vita from Trade Plus Aid.  Apart from giving a number of ideas, Charlotte agreed to the Haller Foundation participating in their 21st Century Leaders initiative.