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Environment CS warns against encroachment of forests

The government will have no mercy for people engaged in wanton destruction and massive encroachment of forests, Environment, Climate Change, and Forestry Cabinet Secretary (CS), Soipan Tuya, has said.

Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary, Soipan Tuya, during the launch of a nationwide tree-planting drive for this rainy season, at the General Service Unit (GSU) Kimbo Recce Company Squad grounds in Juja, Kiambu County, yesterday. Photo by Muoki Charles

While terming them economic saboteurs, the CS said once arrested, those involved will be considered terrorists because their actions of destroying the country’s future deserve such treatment.

She said there is information that some people have set up hotels and others are doing farming activities inside forests, saying it will no longer be tolerated.

While terming forest destruction a national disaster, the CS said the government cannot be on a tree planting drive while other people are destroying forests.

Tuya was speaking at the General Service Unit (GSU) Kimbo Recce Company Squad grounds in Juja, Kiambu County, during the launch of a nationwide tree-planting exercise targeting to plant 500 million seedlings at the onset of the short rains.

“We are getting reports from every corner of the country through our recently established hotline of people who have decided that the forests are available for their business enterprises, where they are building hotels, homes, and establishing farms. I want to emphasise to Kenyans that this will not be tolerated again,” she added.

On the tree planting drive, the CS said members of the disciplined forces will drive the afforestation goal of planting 15 billion trees in the country in the next 10 years.

“We are depending on our disciplined forces to help with our rangeland and ecosystem restoration plan, to plant 15 billion trees and grow them to maturity as we wait for the short rains to set in,” said the CS.

She said the National Police Service, the National Youth Service, the Correctional Services, and regional development agencies have been incorporated in monitoring the status of seedlings being produced.

Tuya said the tree planting programme aims to have at least 1.5 billion trees planted every year and that fruit and fodder trees are part of the priority species, which will make up 30 per cent of the 15 billion target.

She was accompanied by the Ministry’s Principal Secretary, Gitonga Mugambi, Kiambu County Commissioner, Joshua Nkanatha, security commanders, and local leaders.

Nkanatha said so far, Kiambu County has planted 7 million trees since President William Ruto’s drive started, but added that there was a shortage of seedlings, which has slowed down the process.

By Muoki Charles

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