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First Lady Rachel Ruto embarks on reforestation crusade

First Lady Rachel Ruto has pledged to spearhead President William Ruto’s challenge to Kenyans to plant 15 billion trees by the year 2032.

Speaking today at the Kakamega tropical forest during the launch of reforestation of the forest, Mrs Ruto said she intends to use the adopt-a-forest strategy, which is a collaboration of both state and non-state actors to accelerate implementation of reforestation across the country.

Under the adopt-a-forest strategy, Mrs Ruto adopted 200 hectares (about 500 acres) of the Kakamega forest which she committed to re-afforest.

Kenya Forestry Services has entered into a collaboration with both state and non-state actors, who adopt forest sites and blocks in government forests and plant tree seedlings.

The First Lady said climate change is complicating the country’s roadmap towards socio-economic transformation, noting that it was important to put in place sustainable solutions, including greening the country in order to achieve the 30 percent of trees by the year 2032.

“Let’s work together by heeding President Ruto’s call for every Kenyan to plant 300 trees by the year 2032,” she added.

And as a step towards inculcating the culture of tree planting in the youth, the First Lady announced that she will, in conjunction with Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) and the Ministry of Education launch an essay competition for students and pupils on environmental conservation.

“The launch of the essay competition will take place at State House Nairobi where we shall plant trees with children of families residing there while celebrating my birthday,” she said.

The First Lady said this will encourage the young generation to uphold tree growing and greening of the country.

She encouraged communities residing near forests and especially women and the youth to engage in growing of tree seedlings and selling them to the government as a way of improving their economic livelihood.

Mrs Ruto encouraged women to use green energy as a way of protecting the environment, like use of briquettes, saying the government is looking for ways of cushioning Kenyans from the high cost of Liquefied Petroleum Products (LPG) gases.

Speaking at the function, Ministry of Conservation and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya disclosed that 490 hectares of Kakamega forest is degraded but under the adopt-a-forest strategy, 98.5 hectares have already been reforested.

She however noted that Kakamega forest has another 391.5 hectares of the forest that has been degraded and called on other partners to join her ministry in the venture of reforestation across the country.

“The programme lasts between 3-5 years and then the forests revert to KFS,” she added.

The CS said Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) has increased its seed reserves and put up more centres across the country in order to meet the envisaged target of growing 15 billion trees by 2032.

“We are also growing different types of species for arid and semi-arid areas and different ecological areas of the country,” she added.

By George Kaiga

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