The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has embarked on an ambitious tree planting campaign targeting both government protected forests and private farm lands.
Nyeri Ecosystem Conservator Esther Mugo said the government is taking advantage of the ongoing short rains to carry out the rigorous tree planting programme within the county currently ranked first in the country with a 45.17 per cent forest cover.
Mugo said the exercise which is being undertaken under the Natural Forest Conservation Programme and the Industrial Forest Establishment programme would also see the rehabilitation of endangered water sources such as rivers planted with bamboo seedlings.
“For these rains, we are doing 65 hectares of indigenous forests. We are also planting bamboo along riverbanks in the forest and also doing the Industrial Forest Establishment with around 1,600 of indigenous species on 80 hectares of land. In the event the rains continue, we shall add the acreage,” she has told KNA.
Nyeri residents have also been advised to take advantage of the ongoing rains by increasing tree cover in their lands.
Ms Mugo says KFS has enough stocks of seedlings in its nurseries across the county and anybody willing to access the trees for planting should visit offices near their area of residence to pick them for planting.
The officer also said the government is partnering with the Rotary Club of Kenya and the African Development Bank (AFD) under the Green Zone Development Support Project to put 25 hectares of barren land in Kieni East and Kieni West under trees.
The AFD funded programme has also seen 25,000 hectares of land in both Mukurwe-ini and Mathira benefit from the Green Zone Development Support Project.
“We are issuing tree seedlings to farmers and we are concentrating in Kieni where we have vast areas of land for tree planting. We have done around 20 hectares in Kieni West, and five hectares in Kieni East where we have planted trees in several schools in collaboration with the Rotary Club of Kenya. We however still have a substantial number of seedlings in our nurseries for planting and we need to distribute them before the rains end,” she explained.
And to rehabilitate forests areas that were destroyed by wildfires during the just ended dry spell, Ms Mugo said KFS has already undertaken the work of replacing trees that were destroyed in Hombe and Ragati forest stations within the larger Mount Kenya Forest though she was quick to note that the extent of damage was minimal.
In 2013, Kenya forest cover stood at 6.99 per cent way below the United Nations recommended average of 10 per cent according to a Kenya National Forest Assessment Report released in 2021.
However, the county saw a remarkable improvement early this year when it managed to record a 12.2 per cent tree cover and an 8.3 per cent forest cover thanks to an aggressive tree planting campaign spearheaded by the government.
President Dr William Ruto has already spelt out his policy in spearheading massive tree planting across the country with an aim of planting 15 billion trees by 2030 following a Cabinet dispatch that was released yesterday.
The Head of State has also directed all State Officers to plant at least 200 trees at any official national event as a show of solidarity in addressing the devastating effects of climate change and desertification that has hit the country hard.
“Cabinet resolved that all public engagements presided by the President, the Deputy President, Cabinet Secretaries, Principal Secretaries, and all other cadres of State or public officers will be marked by planting of a designated minimum number of trees under various categories of between 200 and 500 seedlings,” read the communique in part.
By Samuel Maina