A joint effort mooted four years ago to improve forest cover in Migori County has come to fruition with the region increasing tree cover by over 50 per cent, according to a report released yesterday.
The county effectively planted more than 4 million tree seedlings across the region raising forest cover from below 10 percent to 56 percent following a massive campaign instituted by both the National and county governments during the four year period.
Senior Forest Officer, Michael Onyango who unveiled the report during an environmental forum at a hotel in Rongo town said the ambitious programme targeted hilltops, both public and private lands where massive tree planting was effected with strict instructions to owners to take care of the planted trees.
The county previously suffered wanton forest destruction arising from uncontrolled charcoal burning, heavy tree clearance for tilling lands and harvesting of tons of firewood for green leaf treatment in tobacco kilns, explained Mr. Onyango.
As a result, the region faced the risk of desertification with the problem of unpredictable rainfall taking a heavy toll on farming activities because of the hash dry weather.
According to the report, efforts to reclaim the lost forest cover brought on board tobacco firms- Alliance One, British American Tobacco (BAT) and Mastermind Tobacco Kenya (MTK), Sony Sugar Company and other stakeholders like financial institutions, schools, the business people and individual people in the area.
Dubbed ‘Migori County Forest Cover Development Plan 2014-2018report, it says that the region expects to register an 100 percent mark forest cover by the end of 2030 to help create an impact on the National forest cover that is currently said to be only 10 percent.
Meanwhile, two environmental groups from Uriri sub-county have endorsed a move to address the local environment through planting of more trees.
Their nod to the plans yesterday was prompted by the massive destruction of forests as a result of negative human activities in the county.
The Nyagina Environmental Friendly Group (NYEFP) and Kakello tree nursery women group said they will fully partner with both the National and county governments to ensure a total forest cover in the area.
Peter Oling of NYEFP and Mrs. Mary Ouma of Kakello tree nursery women group encouraged schools, youth and women groups, and individual within the county to embrace tree growing as an agro-business venture to improve their livelihood.
The two who spoke to KNA on the sidelines of the environment forum in Rongo town said that unchecked human activities in the region was jeopardizing efforts to sustain forests and asked the county government leadership to take firm action on perpetrators.
“The expansion of forest cover should target some 50 million tree seedlings to put a large area under forest cover. The fortunes are promising and additional resources must be provided by both the national and county governments to bolster seed production,” said Oling.
He urged the two levels of governments to develop a good working relationship with farmers to achieve better results.
By George Agimba