The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum through the Kenya Energy -sector Environment and Social Responsibility Programme (KEEP) fund has rehabilitated a total of 1600 hectares of land in different parts of the country.
Ministry of Energy and Petroleum Cabinet Secretary (CS) Davis Chirchir said the fund finances activities relating to growing trees in order to conserve soil and preserve catchment areas for hydro-power dams.
In this, he said, they collaborate with Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and other stakeholders adding that more than 1200 members of local communities have been directly involved in the project that was launched in 2007.
He spoke at Chebitet area in Maasai Mau forest when he led Narok residents to plant about 29, 000 tree seedlings in 29.8 hectares of forest land.
The tree planting exercise was attended by Narok Governor Patrick Ntutu, Tourism Principal Secretary John Olotua, Agriculture PS Julius Korir, Narok South MP Kitilai Ntutu and Narok East MP Ken Aramat and Narok County Commissioner Isaac Masinde among others.
Among the key successful projects are afforestation at Enoosupukia forest, in Narok County where his ministry has planted 480, 000 seedlings in 300 hectares which was formerly a water tower without a forest and serves geothermal wells downhills.
“The planet is faced with a triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Planting trees is part of a long-term measure to help combat this triple crisis,” he said.
Through the KEEP fund, the CS said, they work with the Community Forest Associations (CFA) to implement projects beneficial to the community and the environment in various parts of the country.
He added the projects are designed to provide communities with employment when engaged in site preparation, planting of the tree seedlings, spot weeding of planted trees and protection of the site throughout the project period.
“The community also sources seedlings from their own nurseries which add additional income to them, hence the initiative benefits the community, the Ministry and the environment,” he said.
The CS called on area residents living near the Maasai Mau forest to protect the seedlings from livestock and human interference so that they can flourish and increase the forest cover.
Governor Ntutu said the county government fully supports the president’s initiative of planting 15 billion trees within a decade saying he will continue leading the residents in tree planting until the dream is realised.
He said his administration will fence all schools in the county so that the trees planted in the school compound will nourish as expected.
The governor promised families evicted from the Mau Forest land that the government will address the matter so that the issue can be resolved completely.
By Ann Salaton