Makueni county Kenya Forest Service (KFS) will plant 1.2 million tree seedlings on 75,000 hectares of land in Makuli and Nzaui forests to restore their degraded parts.
Consequently, KFS has entered into a 5-year partnership with World Resources (WRI), Green Belt Movement and the County Government of Makueni in concerted efforts to combat climate change effects in the area.
Other stakeholders involved in the tree planting exercise running from December 2021 to 2026 include the Kenya Towers Agency, Water Resource Authority, local community and some Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).
The County Ecosystem Conservator Evans Maneno speaking to KNA Wednesday, disclosed that they settled on the two forests because they provide a water catchment to several rivers in in the area.
“Through research, it has been established that Makuli and Nzaui forests supply water to rivers Kaiti, Thwake, Kikuu and Mwilu, which jointly provide water to majority of the residents, hence the need to restore the forests in order to address the water shortage and also mitigate effects of climate change in the area,” he said.
Maneno disclosed that since last December, KFS and partners have planted 88,000 seedlings on Nzaui block and 24,800 seedlings in Makuli forest to restore the degraded landscapes.
Consequently, he called on the farmers living near the two forests to plant trees on their farms to help increase the forest cover as well as for economic purposes.
“Those living adjacent to the forests can plant indigenous trees, commercial trees for construction and also fruit trees like mangoes to earn an income,” he said.
However, Maneno decried charcoal burning, grazing of livestock, forest fires and low rainfall as the main challenges they face in restoring the degraded forests.
In this regard, he said said they were working closely with the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government through local chiefs and their assistants to sensitize community members on the need to conserve the environment.
“Through the local administrators, we hold barazas with the community to educate them on the immense benefits of forests and the eventual consequences of deforestation in order to turn them into forest conservation ambassadors,” said Maneno.
The Ecosystem conservator further he lauded the stakeholders in the team saying they have been instrumental in resource mobilization and community empowerment for the goal at hand can only be achieved through a multi-agency approach.
By Patrick Nyakundi