More than 1,000 hectares of the vast Mirema-Nyatike land will be planted with trees by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to boost the forest cover in Migori County.
Migori County Forest Conservator Mr. Joseph Wakiaga said that once the land is gazetted they will engage stakeholders to regenerate the vast bare land with forest cover in the semi-arid Sub County.
Migori County has 1,400 hectares of the public forest but only 200 hectares are under plantation forest.
The Kenya Forest Service officer noted that the county together with other stakeholders like World Vision will embark on Mirema- Nyakite vast land forest regeneration to boost the current three per cent forest cover in the county.
The major activity in Nyatike Sub County is mining which in recent times has degraded the land at mining sites leaving them hollow by the private mining companies. The leaching process in gold mining has also exposed soils to poisonous mercury metals that are usually used in gold extraction.
Wakiaga said that the Kenya Forest Research foundation will establish drought resistant tree seedlings that cannot be affected by the poisonous mercury, to be planted in the region.
He also noted that the KFS will engage the Farmer Management Natural Regeneration Associations of Nyatike to help regenerate trees on Mirema-Nyatike land. He said that mining in Nyatike has left behind lots of land degradation that has become a major cause of soil and water pollution in Lake Victoria.
The KFS in partnership with the county and other stakeholders will plant more than 500,000 trees during the October- December short rains to help improve Migori forest cover.
Wakiaga explained that the ideal target for Migori County to reach 10 percent forest cover by Vison 2030 was planting at least a minimum of 2 million seedlings every year.
He urged local residents to conserve indigenous trees in their lands instead of uprooting them in favour of exotic ones.
The Conservator also pointed out that the need for agricultural land and expansion of urban centres were some of the major reasons for the low forest and tree cover in the county.
“I urged the local leaders to support and help bisect the vast Nyatike land for the benefit of climate change in the semi-arid area,” noted Wakiaga. Most of the Migori public forests are hilly tops that are scattered across the 10 sub counties.
He, however, acknowledged that most farmers in the upper region have adopted agroforestry that was helping mitigate climate change downstream around the Lake region basin.
Last year at least eight cows died in Nyatike Sub County after drinking poisonous mercury polluted water as a result of heavy downpours.
Wakiaga said that regeneration of the mining lands in the sub county will heavily boost the safety of the local residents, animals and conservation of Lake Victoria.
By Geoffrey Makokha