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20,000 trees planted in Dundori forest

Over 20,000 of the targeted 50,000 trees have so far been planted in the first phase of the reforestation programme in Dundori Forest and Subukia Ward of Nakuru County.

The exercise is part of a drive rolled out by the county three months ago to increase the region’s forest cover by more than 15 per cent to counter the effects of global warming and climate change.

While calling on Kenyans to plant trees in all available spaces, Water, Environment, Energy, Climate Change, and Natural Resources County Executive Committee Member Nelson Maara said conservation of forests was critical if Kenya was to achieve a 10 per cent forest cover in line with Vision 2030.

Speaking at Dundori Forest Station after the tree planting exercise, Dr. Maara observed that, in addition to helping mitigate climate change, trees have many practical advantages for farmers.

“Certain varieties, such as grevillea, can benefit the soil when grown alongside staple food crops. The wood can be a source of income if farmers cut and replant their trees after a few years,” added the CECM.

Governor Susan Kihika’s administration is partnering with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenyatta University, Green Blue Foundation Africa, learning institutions, community-based organisations and religious organisations in the drive aimed at increasing the current 9.2 per cent tree cover mark in the devolved unit.

Dr. Maara said women, youths, and vulnerable groups will be incorporated into the programme to establish tree nurseries with the support of Community Forest Associations (CFAs) in the ambitious plan to raise tree cover.

“KFS is expected to provide 8 million tree seedlings, with the county government topping up with 2 million tree seedlings that will be distributed for planting in farmlands and gazetted forests,” the CECM pointed out.

The CECM said the county government had embarked on a mission to combat carbon dioxide emissions in the country by planting 10 million trees between now and the year 2025.

Kenya currently contributes 0.05 per cent of the world’s total carbon emissions, with a drop by 13.80 per cent from 19.0 million tonnes in 2019 to 16.4 million tonnes in 2020, according to a study by Knoema data experts.

“The work will include enabling communities to raise tree nurseries and supply seedlings to residents for planting under a programme that will be implemented in all the eleven sub-counties. The communities are encouraged to plant trees with high commercial value that are environmentally friendly,” Dr. Maara stated.

Dr. Maara was accompanied by the Chief Officer for Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Kennedy Barasa, the Director for Environment, Ms. Grace Karanja, and the Chief Officer for Water and Sanitation, Engineer Margaret Kinyanjui.

He disclosed that through the initiative, the devolved unit was planting trees on hilltops, in institutions, and on public land in all 11 Sub-Counties that will help manage the problem of unreliable rainfall.

Dr. Maara affirmed the county government’s commitment to support President William Ruto’s Special Presidential Forestry and Rangeland Acceleration Programme, which is tasked with ensuring 15 billion trees are planted in 10 years.

“Our aim is to contribute to the country’s wider goal of increasing its forest cover, which is currently at an alarming rate of less than 10 per cent,” he said.

The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) said Governor Susan Kihika’s administration was working with various stakeholders to turn around the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

Dr. Maara affirmed the county government’s commitment to support President William Ruto’s Special Presidential Forestry and Rangeland Acceleration Programme, which is tasked with ensuring 15 billion trees are planted in 10 years.

“Our aim is to contribute to the country’s wider goal of increasing its forest cover, which is currently at an alarming rate of less than 10 per cent,” he said.

Figures released last week by the Interior Ministry show that the tree-planting campaign is on the right track, with close to seven million seedlings planted so far.

They indicate that the Eastern region has planted 4,377,362 saplings in the last five months since the launch of the National Tree-Planting Restoration Programme, which targets at least 15 billion trees by 2030. In the Rift Valley, 621,805 seedlings have been planted so far.

“Kenya’s commitment to reforestation has roared into life, with each of the eight regions making encouraging strides in these early stages of the national tree-planting campaign,” said the ministry in a press release.

About 523,699 trees have been planted in the Central region, while the Coast has 514,550 seedlings, Western (278,023), Nyanza (274,669), Nairobi (77,168), and North Eastern 52,478 saplings.

“The exercise is coordinated by National Government Officers, field officers from the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry, County Governments, Public and Private partners, and community leaders,” added the ministry.

While noting that the President has set a new target of 30 per cent of tree cover by 2032, up from the current 12.13 per cent, Dr Maara said communities are now involved in the management of the natural resources, which has resulted in a high sense of ownership.

He said climate change has also burdened other sectors, including health and infrastructure, as well as disrupting local and international supply chains.

“To a considerable extent, these adversities are the direct and indirect consequences of human failure to observe its ecological imperative. The solution is to plant trees to reduce greenhouse emissions and to stop and reverse deforestation so that the human race is saved from the climate catastrophe,” added the CECM.

 Dr Maara stated that increasing tree cover in Kenya would help reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

He indicated that millions of species of wildlife that depend on forest cover for their existence are facing extinction due to illegal logging and failure to plant trees.

“A high number of animals have been killed by communities after straying from the forests, national parks, and game reserves for lack of tree cover, food, and water. This trend can be reversed with sensitisation of the local communities on the need to conserve the environment and protect wildlife, which is a national heritage,” he noted.

The national government wants to have a minimum of 10 per cent forest cover in Kenya by involving various stakeholders.

In November last year, President William Ruto launched a tree restoration programme at Ngong Hills Forest to kick-start his plan to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.

 Dr Ruto said the initiative will help combat the effects of climate change, which has unleashed calamities such as droughts, floods, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and disease and pest outbreaks.

Nyeri County leads with an estimated 38 per cent tree cover, a record that the Nakuru County administration is confident it will surpass in a couple of years.

According to KFS Rift Valley has an average forest cover of 14.6 per cent with Elgeyo Marakwet accounting for the highest at 37 per cent followed by Baringo at 25 per cent, Kericho at 23.5 per cent, Nandi 16.8 per cent, Narok 16.6 per cent and TransNzoia at 16.1 per cent.

Others are Samburu at 12.8 per cent, Bomet 12.7 per cent, Nakuru 9.2 per cent, West Pokot 8.3 per cent, Uasin Gishu 7.5 per cent, Kajiado 7.1 per cent, with Laikipia and Turkana trailing at 6.7 per cent and 4.06 per cent respectively.

By Anne Mwale

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