Kericho County is working on modalities to increase forest cover by planting at least 47 million trees.
The county’s forest cover now stands at 22 per cent in its 63,000 hectares of forest land. The move was mooted after the area started experiencing erratic rainfall pattern occasioning perennial water shortage.
Speaking during the launch of the planting exercise at the Kericho Police Station, Kericho County Commissioner Mr Kamau Karung’o said all systems have been put in place to ensure 47 million tree seedlings were planted within two years.
“To achieve the 10 per cent forest cover in the County the implementation committee had recommended that we require to plant at least the 47 million seedlings in two years’ time,” He told a press briefing after a meeting.
Karung’o called on the residents and various institutions of learning to take part in the initiative within the levels including at home adding the exercise will also be extended to areas that were affected by recent landslides at Kunyak in Kipkelion District.
The CC said the exercise will be fast tracked during the long rains and the committee had developed a work plan to start the exercise at Taiwet water catchment area and Kimugen Dispensary.
He challenged the youth to be at the forefront in the exercise adding that in future they could benefit from the trees and urged residents to ensure that whenever they cut any tree, they should at least plant a replacement.
Also present at the tree planting exercise was Kericho County Eco System Conservator Mr Stephen Kahunyo who urged the public to avoid planting Eucalyptus trees along water catchment and riparian areas because such species were known to deplete the ecosystem of the the wetlands.
He expressed fears that Eucalyptus tree species used to provide fuel energy to factories owned by both multi-national tea companies and KTDA had contributed immensely to water shortages within the County.
He called on farmers to uproot the Eucalyptus trees planted at wetlands and replace them with indigenous tree species which were friendly to the environment.
“So far we have tree nurseries in all the six Sub-Counties and they are fully stocked with tree seedlings totaling 5 million,” Kahunyo said.
Kericho County Director of Housing Jason Abuga assured that the Kazi Mtaani workforce will help boost the initiative but will be allocated designated areas to plant the trees.
The launch was also attended by Kericho County Police Commander Silas Mathiu and the Kericho County Deputy County Commissioner Mr Dancan Muyesu Darusi.
By Dominic Cheres and Kibe Mburu