The Principal Secretary in the State Department of Energy Maj. Gen (RTD) Dr. Gordon Kihalangwa says they have prioritized the restoration of depleted forests across the country.
Dr. Kihalangwa, who spoke while presiding over the tree planting exercise at Maragoli hills forest in Vihiga sub county, stated that that the ecosystem had been densely populated until early 1990s when it suffered wanton destruction.
The PS said his department in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is going to rehabilitate 150 hectares of the total 369.1 ha area of the forest land this year.
He encouraged the residents to plant indigenous trees species which are environment-friendly and stop planting the eucalyptus which has high water uptake leaving the soil dry.
“The eucalyptus species has high rate of moisture consumption and hence has led to drying up of wetlands and streams thereby impacting negatively on the ecosystem,” he explained.
He noted that about 45 per cent of the electricity produced in the country is water-generated and therefore the need for environmental conservation.
He disclosed that the national forest cover currently stands at 12 per cent against the recommended minimum of 10 per cent saying the performance is so far impressive.
The county government, through the department of natural resources, has planted 70,000 seedlings in the past two years.
It has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the KFS to restore 20 ha of the forest and constructed an office block that is being used by the foresters.
By Sammy Mwibanda