The Kenya Forest Service said it has achieved a key milestone by rehabilitating 70,000 hectares of degraded forest in the past one year countrywide.
Chief Conservator Mr Julius Kamau said the restored forest included 4,300 hectares of indigenous trees, a feat he noted had been achieved through collaboration with Community Forest Associations (CFAs) and other partners.
Speaking at Maji Mazuri Forest block where he oversaw planting of 164,000 indigenous tree seedlings, Mr Kamau said for the country to attain the 10 per cent tree cover by 2022, one creative avenue for the service lies in forming partnerships with – among others – non-state actors, through tree planting initiatives that aim to spur a tree growing culture among the youth.
He also thanked the CFA members for their active involvement in the rehabilitation process while noting better-conserved forests had the greatest benefits to adjacent communities.
Kamau also called upon all Kenyans in areas experiencing rainfall to plant trees in available spaces while strictly observing Covid-19 prevention regulations and guidelines.
He directed officers in charge of all forest stations to ensure tree seedlings are available for rehabilitation of degraded forests.
Kamau said the service, in collaboration with counties target to plant five million trees in every county per year, translating to 235 million trees, as it seeks to achieve the United Nation’s minimum ten per cent forest cover.
“Our target is to plant 1.2 million indigenous trees in Maji Mazuri, Mount Kenya and Mount Elgon forest blocks. The country’s forest cover now lies approximately 7.2 per cent though an assessment is ongoing.
We are working with partners and communities in dealing with degradation. The revival of tree nurseries that provided adequate tree seedlings during the 1980s and 1990s will ensure the country achieves requisite forest cover,” he said.
He added, “We are supporting the forest stations to make this directive possible. This year, we are committed to reviving all our tree nurseries, not only for the needs of forest stations but for the public to plant trees in their private farms.”
Kenya’s forests are on a rapid decline. Deforestation is taking place at an alarming rate of 0.3 per cent each year due to pressure from increased population, wood fuels, building material and other unsustainable land uses.
KFS seeks to reverse this trend through partnerships by increasing awareness on forest conservation while helping to protect and manage the degraded forests of Kenya’s critical water towers.
Overall, the Economic Survey report of 2020 shows that Kenya’s forest total area under state forest plantations increased from 141,600 hectares in 2018 to 147,600 hectares in 2019 as a result of the ban on forest logging imposed in the period.
New area planted during the period under review was 7,200 hectares, a decline from the 9,200 hectares planted in 2018.
The report says that total sale of timber from government forests declined from 144,200 true cubic metres in 2018 to 10,700 in 2019.
The sale of softwood timber declined by 29,400 true cubic metres in 2019 while hardwood timber sales declined to 9,200 true cubic metres down from 113,300 thousand in 2018.
By Anne Mwale