Chiefs and their assistants in Bureti sub-county have been directed to implement the removal of eucalyptus trees from water catchment areas in a bid to preserve the critical water resource in the area.
Addressing wananchi during a tree planting exercise held at Kesegut water catchment area, Kericho County commissioner Mr Kamau Karung’o ordered the administrators to enforce the directive in their areas of jurisdiction to help secure natural sources of water against extinction.
The eucalyptus trees pose a big threat to the environment and sources of water, amid expert’s advice that their roots may suck water from far and deep. The tree takes a minimum of five years to grow.
Karung’o further instructed residents who have planted the blue gum tree 30 metres from rivers to cut them down adding that all laws set to protect the water catchment areas will be strictly administered.
“We will ensure all laws set to protect the catchment areas are enforced. We are directing chiefs to enforce the planting of blue gum 30 metres away rule of from rivers and water catchment areas,” said Karung’o.
He expressed fears that blue gum tree species used to provide fuel to factories owned by multinational tea companies had propagated the planting of the tree along river banks and water catchment areas within the county.
The county commissioner urged residents not to overlook the importance of the water catchment areas as they contributed significantly towards the conservation of water, a critical natural resource.
He challenged the youth to be in the forefront in the tree planting initiative, while impressing upon the residents to embrace the culture of planting trees as they celebrated their special occasions. “For everyone celebrating a birthday plant a tree,” reiterated Karung’o.
During the occasion 450 indigenous tree seedlings were planted.
Present was the County Ecosystem conservator Stephen Kahunyo who commended the residents for planting indigenous trees in their homesteads.
At the same time, Kahunyo cautioned residents against planting of blue gum trees along water catchment areas as this species was known to deplete the ecosystem of the wetlands.
The conservator called on learning institutions in the sub-county to take advantage of the indigenous tree seedlings the government was offering through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to increase forest cover in the area.
“The Bureti KFS office has 170,000 tree seedlings in their tree nursery. I call upon all the local learning institutions here to avail themselves and we shall give them the tree seedlings for free,” said Kahunyo.
By Sarah Njagi