Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has signed a collaboration framework with Kenya Water Towers Agency (KWTA) for the adoption of 250 acres of land in Kaptagat Forest for the establishment of a national bamboo demonstration site.
Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Dr. Chris Kiptoo said the newly established national bamboo demonstration site would generate seedlings which would serve riverine and catchment areas, as well as mudslide prone areas in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Elgeyo Marakwet regions.
Dr. Kiptoo also announced that the Ministry of Environment and Forestry has already developed an integrated master plan for restoration and rehabilitation of Cherangany and the soon to be gazetted Elgeyo Hills water towers.
“The master plan is awaiting Cabinet approval so that we can be able to source for funding from partners including the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) that will assist in the restoration and rehabilitation of the water towers that will also go a long way in ensuring perennial landslide along the escarpment is stopped,” said the PS
He made the remarks over the weekend at Kaptagat DEB primary school where he witnessed the signing of the MOU between KFS and KWTA. He also witnessed the signing of a collaboration framework between World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), and Five Community Forest Associations (CFAs) adjacent Communities to Kaptagat Forest Ecosystem.
The MOU between WWF, NETFUND, and the CFAs centres on the protection and maintenance of planted forest sites, as well as CFA capacity building the CFAs.
The forest adoption framework was signed between the Chief Conservator of Forests Julius Kamau and the Ag. Director-General KWTA Prof. Julius Tanui.
The signing ceremony was also witnessed by Elgeyo Marakwet County Governor Alex Tolgos, Uasin Gishu CEC Environment and Water Mary Njogu and national government administration officers from the two counties.
The PS also hinted that residents living on dangerous slopes along the Elgeyo Escarpment would be relocated to safer areas by the government once the Cabinet makes a decision. “However, all those who have crossed the forest spacer lines will be evicted,” he warned.
Over 3,000 membership CFAs benefitted from donations towards fostering agroforestry and establishment of tree nurseries donated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and NETFUND. NETFUND will support the nurseries to plant 2.5m tree seedlings.
The PS revealed that 400 acres of Kaptagat forest has been replanted during the four editions of the reforesting Kaptagat ecosystem campaign that started in 2017.
He appreciated the community members living around the ecosystem for their steadfast conservation initiatives which led to the success of the campaign saying 80% of the planted tree seedlings survived and called on the communities to embrace agroforestry practices while benefitting through the newly formed CFAs who have 16 User rights signed between them and KFS.
Dr. Kiptoo challenged the newly inaugurated CFAs to come up with income generating activities which will profile Kaptagat both as a sports’ attraction and tap into the region’s eco-tourism potential.
The WWF MOU with KFS will see 60 unemployed youths being engaged to take care of and ensure the sustained survival rate of the planted trees in 148 ha in the Kaptagt ecosystem. The youths will be paid a stipend by WWF for the next one year.
Kaptagat forest ecosystem is a critical national resource covering 15,268.10 Ha with four forest stations namely; Kaptagat, Sabor, Penon, and Kessup. Approximately 7,441 Ha of it is under natural forest, grassland, and bamboo.
By Kiptanui Cherono