The cutting down of trees has been a plague countrywide but ironically Meru County has been experiencing a different scenario in the period after the ban on logging.
Meru County Ecosystem Conservator Mr. John Njoroge states that approximately 97,320.15 hectares are under forest cover without counting trees planted on individual people’s farms and homesteads with an average of 7.6 percent tree cover across the county.
Njoroge noted that during last year’s World Environmental Day, over a million trees were planted within the county.
“In October 2018 during the World Environmental Day, Meru was able to plant up to 219,642 trees in the state forest, one million trees in universities, polytechnics, primary schools and 45,000 trees were planted along the highways,” he said.
The Conservator pointed out that tree planting in the region has been an ongoing exercise especially during rainy seasons urging the Meru Community members to embrace the culture of increasing tree cover in their homesteads.
Meru County is known to be home to some precious trees in the forest such as Meru Oak, Eucalyptus, Red Cedar, Muringa among others.
Njoroge said the Kenya Forestry Service has come up with campaigns in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior urging schools and other institutions to continue planting trees in available open spaces.
He added that they have partnered with various organisations to help in forest conservation and curb criminal activities such as logging.
“We have been experiencing some hiccups and the main challenge being fire commonly caused by human illegal activities like honey harvesting in the forest. The number of rangers is inadequate to help protect the forest thus unable to control some of these illegal activities,” he said.
He said that the partnerships with County Government, Mt. Kenya Trust, the Interior Ministry, Safaricom and International Tree Foundation have helped conserve the forest and come to the rescue in case of any emergencies.
The Kenya Forestry Service has also partnered with the Community Forestry Association (CFA) who have helped in curbing some criminal cases.
Njoroge has welcomed the Meru residents to show up in large numbers to mark the International Day of Forests on the March 21, this year to be able to achieve the 10 percent forest cover by 2022.
By Brenda Gitonga and Richard Muhambe