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Environmentalist:Planting 7.5 billion trees in 7 years is achievable

Kenya’s population is about 55 million with a mean age of 19.6, and if every Kenyan plants trees equivalent to their age on an annual basis and is supported by corporations, then Kenyans will be able to plant 7.5 million trees in seven years.

This was said by the founder of the Green Africa Foundation, Dr. Isaac Kalua, who was speaking at Konza Technopolis in Machakos County during the annual Plant Your Age Day themed “My Tree, My Age.”.

Dr. Kalua, whose Green Africa Foundation was collaborating with the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs and Konza Technopolis, said that Kenyans should take tree planting as an opportunity for livelihood, create money, rejuvenate their soils, and deal with the effects of climate change.

He urged Kenyans that, in regards to the presidential directive to plant 15 billion trees by 2032, they should take it upon themselves and own the process and not depend on the government, such as the Ministry of Environment or other ministries, to plant for them since it’s beyond them.

The Green Africa founder pointed out that the goal of planting 15 billion trees is very achievable as long as Kenyans can relate tree-growing to the improvement of soil and food, the creation of job opportunities, and improved livelihoods.

“It is beyond the Ministry of Environment to plant all the trees, and so this year we are calling upon corporations and individuals to take it up,” said Dr. Kalua.

Dr. Kalua added that they have launched an APP that would be reachable for every Kenyan, where they could monitor their trees through www.plantyourage.africa, so everyone could register their own tree and monitor it.

He said they have also launched an award called the “Plant Your Age Award”, a global award which is about personal, corporate, and international responsibility.

“The target of planting your age is 40 per cent forest cover in the African continent by the year 2035 and therefore we have to take advantage and take personal responsibility,” added Dr. Kalua.

However, Dr. Kalua decried that over 92 per cent of the trees have been planted by Kenyans since independence, but most of them have died.

He noted that it’s important to know where trees are needed the most and what it takes to take care of a tree because tree growing starts with the selection of the species depending on why one wants to plant a tree.

“One would want to plant a tree for medicinal purposes, as a source of livelihood, for fruit farming, firewood production, and ornamental purposes, so the where, why, when, and how should be dealt with when one wants to plant trees,” said Dr. Kalua.

He added that some of the trees that have been planted ended up dying because they dug small holes and did not take care where the rooting system would be, and that’s why they are in Konza to demonstrate how it should be done so as to plant trees successfully.

He noted the ‘plant your age’ day event is also a reminder of environmental challenges that have been faced in the past, the upcoming El Nino rains, and what people are doing to prepare for the same.

“With El Nino around the corner, how many people are informing their neighbours on preparation? How are the media informing the public on the best crops to be planted and what are the food storage opportunities?” questioned Dr. Kalua.

He pointed out that in lower Eastern, things would be different during El Nino because there would be no longer short-period crops since there would be more water, so if one planted the short-period crops, they may end up spoilt and there would be no harvest.

He urged counties to focus on building and fixing the broken, impassable bridges before the coming rains, unblocking the sewage and drainage systems, and also creating centres where food would be stored safely instead of depending on helicopters when it’s too late.

The Green Africa Foundation was founded in 2000 with the focus of implementing practical, hands-on, community-driven projects aimed at greening the African continent.

By Anne Kangero

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