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Gov’t 10pc forest cover on course

The government through the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has moved to assure its commitment to achieve and maintain a 10 % forest cover by 2022.

According to Alfred Gichu, Head of Forest Conservation at the ministry, the country’s ambitious programme to increase forest cover from the current 7.2% to 10% by 2022 will be realized through a shared responsibility and close partnerships with government agencies, private players and international development partners.

Stakeholders drawn from government, private sector and development partners during a consultative meeting to formulate a National initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+ readiness project) and achieving a forest cover by 2022. Photo by Erastus Gichohi

Gichu said to realize the initiative, the country needs to produce and plant 2 billion quality tree seedlings spread across an area of 2 million hectares of land in the country.

He added that the government is already investing heavily in production of quality seedlings, afforestation and reforestation activities, and in sustainable forest management across the country in line with the National Climate Change Action Plan (2018-2023).

Speaking during a stakeholder’s consultation meeting in Naivasha, Gichu said the input of development partners and private players is key to the formulation and implementation of the National initiative of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation [REDD+ readiness project].

REDD+ Readiness Project, a United Nations Development Program [UNDP] initiative aims to support government efforts to pursue long term sustainable developments, conserve biodiversity, increase forest cover and mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. Gichu added that the Ministry in partnership with other actors is in the process of formulating National REDD+ Strategy accompanying instruments which includes a Forest Reference Level, Safeguards Information Systems (SIS), National Forest Monitoring System and investment plan to actualize the implementation of the initiative.

According to Dr. Joram Kagombe, Deputy Director at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), the organization is undertaking tree seed breeding to ensure production of quality seeds that can adapt to different landscapes.

The Director said KEFRI is also providing technologies that will help tree farmers to upscale commercial forestry adding that they have developed a species – site matching application to help a farmer identify what species to plant in which area.

Speaking at the event, Kenya Private Sector Alliance Deputy CEO Martha Cheruto said the various players under its umbrella are committed to supporting the government achieve the 10% forest cover and ensure restoration of the environment for sustainable developments.

She said forest resources support operations of key economic sectors such as agriculture, tourism, horticulture, energy and therefore as private players they must play a bigger role in forest management and conservation efforts.

Cheruto added that its members are involved in various support programmes including ‘Adopt a Tree’, ‘Adopt a Forest’, Forest fencing, tree research development and investment in forest science.

By Erastus Gichohi and Calvin Osiemo

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