The Arboretum owes its existence to the construction of the Kenya Uganda Railway back at the beginning of the 20th century. Trains back then were steam powered, requiring burning logs. Initially, indigenous trees within 3km either side of the railway line were cut to supply the required fuel wood. With time, foresters noted that the indigenous trees grew slowly, and decided to try planting quick growing exotic softwoods to see if they would survive in Kenya, and meet the trains’ fuel needs. The site of the present day Nairobi Arboretum was set aside in 1907 for this purpose. Today, the Nairobi Arboretum is a protected 30 hectare forest reserve holding over 350 species of indigenous and exotic plants, most of which are labeled. It’s also home to over 100 species of birds, and a significant population of Sykes and Vervet monkeys. Through the efforts of Friends of Nairobi Arboretum (FONA), the Arboretum has been spruced up with paved walkways, park benches, trash bins, and public toilets. It has become a popular recreational park for city residents, who come looking for tranquility, to take long walks, hold picnics, or simply to commune with their God. Large groups often come on weekends for team-building activities and games in the central lawn at the park, while lovebirds enjoy spending romantic moments in its secluded spots. Runners also love to jog around the Arboretum’s forest trails. The Park is open for free to the public.