Kiambu County is currently at 16 per cent forest cover, surpassing the national government set target of 10 per cent.
Speaking during a County Service Delivery Committee meeting at Kiambu County Commissioner’s office, Kenya Forest Service officer Jane Chepkonga said currently, the County has 40,001 hectares of land under forest cover.
Speaking on behalf of the County Chief Conservator Julius Kamau, the officer explained that the 40,001 hectares comprise natural forests which cover 20,008 hectares, plantations covering 8,467.5 hectares, bamboo and bushlands which cover 8,464 and 2,085 hectares respectively, grasslands and others covering 508 and 501 hectares respectively.
“Kiambu has eight major forest stations that take care of the vast forest areas, with the largest ones being Kieni which covers 13,724 hectares and Kinale Forest station covering 10, 505 hectares. Others are Kereita, Ragia, Uplands, Kamae, Thogoto and Muguga forest stations,” she elaborated.
Chepkonga noted that in a move to improve forestation in the County, KFS has implemented various programmes such as forest conservation and management, forest plantations, enterprises and farm and dryland enterprises.
She added that KFS has partnered with other stakeholders such as Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to undertake various projects.
“We are undertaking the National Tree Planting Campaign (NTPC) that helps in raising seedlings in KFS owned nurseries, tree planting in the gazetted forests, schools, government and private institutions,” she said.
Another project, Green Zones Development Zones phase II is promoting sustainable practices, to help reduce environmental impacts, and to help revitalize an area and through this farmers and communities are being supported to improve their livelihood through establishment of woodlots and agroforestry.
The Green Zones Development Support Project-Phase II initially was conceived by the Government in 2018 to contribute to the rehabilitation and protection for regeneration of 309,000ha of degraded forestland.
The proposed project that is to end in 2024 will provide new and more efficient ways of increasing forest cover, increasing food security, improving community livelihood through sustainable and inclusive commodity value chain and market development.
It is being implemented in fifteen Counties namely Kiambu, Embu, Meru, Machakos, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Baringo, Kericho, Bomet, Nyamira and Kisii counties that cover four forest conservancies and three out of five Kenya’s water towers.
Chepkonga explained that there has been a lot of loss of biodiversity caused by human activities, climate change due to depletion of ozone layer and increasing global temperatures as well as the wood fuel crisis that has seen increased demand for charcoal and firewood.
She gave an example in Kiambu where there is limited land available for forestry expansion, forest destruction by boundary conflicts and lack of adequate labour which KFS has been grappling with.
Kiambu County falls within Central Highlands Conservancy and Aberdare Ecosystem one (Thogoto) in Ngong’ hills forest region.
While the national government manages gazetted natural forest areas, natural reserves and national parks, forestry functions and responsibilities within private and community lands are devolved and should be managed by the County governments.
By Lucy Mwikali