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Degraded Kaptagat forest land rehabilitated

More than 1277 hectares of the Kaptagat forest ecosystem have been rehabilitated within the last five years, Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo has said.

This has been achieved through the rehabilitation and restoration of the Kaptagat ecosystem initiative spearheaded by the PS and several stakeholders, including long-distance professional athlete Eliud Kipchoge who has adopted 50.8ha of the forest.

Kiptoo said when the initiative started in 2017 the aim was to rehabilitate 2000ha of the forest that had been identified as extensively degraded by human activity.

“The objective of this initiative is to protect the important Kaptagat water tower in collaboration with the community such as those in the banking sector, Worldwide Fund – Kenya (WWF-Kenya), Kenya Forest Service (KFS) Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA), Eldoret Water and Sanitation Company (ELDOWAS), Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) and the Elgeyo Marakwet and Uasin Gishu county Governments among many others,” said the PS during the 6th Annual tree planting exercise at Kaptagat forest.

“We hope to clear the balance of 700ha in the next one or two editions of the rehabilitation and restoration of the Kaptagat forest. The eco-system targeted for rehabilitation covers five forest blocks, Sabor, Benon, Kaptagat, Kessup, and Kipkabus,” said Kiptoo.

During the 6th edition, 700,000 tree seedlings bought from the community forest association with support from UNDP and the UN fraternity were planted.

Kiptoo said the government has set up a tree growing fund with support from the National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) so as to have a continuous sustainable financing mechanism of buying tree seedlings from CFAs, women groups, and youth groups during annual tree planting exercises.

42000 bamboo seedlings were planted at the 50.8ha degraded Kaptagat forest adopted by Eliud Kipchoge where the PS who was accompanied by his Regional and Northern Corridor development counterpart Dr. Belio Kipsang also commissioned the official fencing of the site. The Project is funded by Trillion Trees, UK-Pact, and WWF-Kenya.

On forest cover, the PS said a recent report indicated that the country was doing well, with a report assessment released on May 27th indicating that Kenya’s forest cover had increased to 8.8 per cent compared to 6.99 per cent in 2010 and 7.2 per cent in 2015.

“On tree cover, the country is now way ahead of the constitutional requirement of at least 10 per cent having attained an increase to 12.3 per cent,” said Kiptoo.

The PS added that from the government gazetted forests, they will focus on farmland where land owners would be expected to have at least 10 per cent of their farmland under trees as the country strives to attain the 10 per cent forest cover.

In his remarks, Kipchoge said he was planning to adopt a forest in each of the 47 counties through the Kipchoge Foundation. He called on like-minded sponsors to come on board to make Kenya green.

By Kiptanui Cherono

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