The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is in collaboration with other partners, targeting to plant 3 million tree seedlings across Busia County in the ongoing short rain season.
This is in an effort to boost the county’s forest cover to the nationally-agreed standards, promote environmental conservation and mitigate effects of climate change.
According to Busia County Ecosystem Conservator Vitalis Osodo, their mandate as KFS is to ensure they conserve, protect and increase the forest cover besides planning for the future benefits of the coming generation.
He made the remarks on Friday at Malaba Township Primary school in Teso North Sub County during a Linda Mazingira Initiative Kenya programme dubbed “plant a tree, adopt a tree programme”.
He said, “Our main aim is to plant trees and ensure that the issues of climate change are reduced. So far in Busia County we are on course.”
“This year we managed to raise 3 million seedlings and so far we have managed to plant 1.5 million. We are optimistic that by the end of this short rain period we will have planted all the seedlings and probably our tree cover which is at 3.5 per cent will have increased to 5 per cent.”
He noted that KFS would strive towards realization of its mandate by ensuring learning institutions take part in the fight against climate change through planting of trees.
The school tree planting programme, he added, would also be rolled out to communities as the world continues to fight the adverse effects of climate change.
“As far as tree planting in our institutions is concerned, we are working with other partners to ensure that tree planting is done at the right time and the right way so that we can achieve our goal because now we are looking at 30 per cent tree cover,” he stated.
He lauded Malaba Township Primary school administration for the environmental programme aimed at turning the school green.
“We want the same programme to be replicated in other schools across the county through our partners like Linda Mazingira Initiative Kenya and Dedan Kimathi Foundation,” he said.
Osodo said with the new government in place, they hoped to initiate a greening school programme where schools would be planting trees as one of their academic activities.
He said KFS through its partners is also sensitizing communities to embrace tree planting noting that they were looking at poverty alleviation through tree planting as well as environmental conservation.
He called on the Ministry of Education to iron out school land ownership challenges which are hampering tree planting activities as neighbouring communities believed the land belonged to them and have turned schools into grazing grounds.
“Land ownership is an issue and that is why most of these schools are encroached. Again, some of the schools are not even fenced and even when they fence them, the community members cut down the fence to allow their livestock to get in for grazing,” he said.
Busia County Linda Mazingira Initiative Coordinator Patrick Ikwara said their goal in collaboration with KFS, KEFRI, Dedan Kimathi Foundation, Equity Bank, and Scouts associations in schools is to plant 2 million trees in learning institutions across the county.
He said their next focus would be on the hills and swampy areas which have been destroyed by soil erosion.
Malaba Township Primary school teacher in charge of the scouts David Imutuan said the school administration is focused on imparting tree planting and protection skills to the pupils to enable them conserve the environment and deal with climate change effects in future.
Dedan Kimathi Foundation Representative Dickson Maina said their target as a foundation in partnership with KFS is to plant 30 million trees in the next ten years across the country.
By Melechezedeck Ejakait