The Bomet County government in collaboration with partners will conserve the Mara River Basin ecosystem, the source of rivers Amalo and Nyangores and gateway to wildebeest migration corridor of Mara and Serengeti.
The County has partnered with a number of stakeholders including World Wide Fund for Nature, Kenya Forests Service, Water River Users Association, Community Based Organizations and other stakeholders to plant five million seedlings in the next three years.
The Bomet Governor, Dr. Hilary Barchok in a statement from his office after attending the annual Mara day held in Tanzania stated that the county was gearing to increase forest cover from the current 12 percent to 17 percent.
“With the help of stakeholders, we have managed to plant 2.7 tree seedlings in all the twenty five wards, majorly in the government forests, public institutions, schools, road reserves and even private farms,” Dr. Barchok stated.
He further stated that the county was targeting to plant another three million seedlings preferably indigenous species, those with economic benefits such as wood fuel, timber, fruit trees and those which would assist in carbon trading.
He said planting of fruit seedlings including avocados and trees including bamboo on a commercial scale should be introduced as a matter of urgency along rivers and water sources to replace eucalyptus trees which were a threat to underground water levels in the region.
Dr. Barchok said there was need to focus on conservation of the rivers upstream so as to ensure the water emptied into Lake Victoria is not polluted.
He said that the low water levels in the Mara river following a similar trend in two major rivers in Bomet county was evidence that human activities upstream was causing environmental effects downstream.
“The low water levels will not only affect our people but also the wildebeest migrations of the Serengeti and Mara hence affecting tourism in general,” the Governor said.
He said that Lake Victoria is a key source of the waters for the River Nile, adding that there was an urgent need to roll out sound conservation programs in rivers upstream as pollution was a threat to millions of people, wildlife and aquatic lives downstream.
“I appeal to all stakeholders who benefit from the Mara Basin to develop a well-coordinated integrated conservation approach in the region that would minimize conflicts and provision of clean and safe water to drink,’’ Dr. Barchok said.
He appealed to other donor agencies to fund environmental conservation programs in the South Rift region along rivers that are tributaries of Lake Victoria.
By Joseph Obwocha