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Meru embraces bamboo tree planting

Meru County Government through the Department Of Environment is championing environmental conservation by planting bamboo trees on hilltops, riparian areas and wetlands.

According to the County Environment Chief Officer, Mr. Lawrence Mwebia Kinoti, the restoration of rivers that are drying is in line with Governor Kiraitu Murungi’s promise to enhance environmental conservation in the region.

He said that 39 hilltops and 24 rivers have already been gazetted for afforestation.

In 2017/2018, Kinoti added, the department had a flagship project along River Mariara in central Imenti constituency where 25,000 seedlings of the giant bamboo species were planted.

“Out of the 25,000 seedlings planted, 70 percent survived while the 30 percent that failed is associated with the area residents’ negative politics who think that the county government was after taking ‘their land’,” said Kinoti.

He said Meru County targets to have 45 tree nurseries in the whole county with each ward having three nurseries by the year 2040 in order to achieve 30 percent forest cover.

So far, he added, the county has 10 bamboo tree nurseries with Gitoro being their central nursery, having been picked because the County Government has supported Kenya Forest Service with a functional solar-powered borehole which was aimed at increasing the capacity of raising the seedlings.

The seedlings have been distributed to nurseries that are in Nkandone-Imenti central, Kiambithiru-Imenti North, Nkuani in Tigania East, Kanuni Youth Group-Igembe South, Maa Women Group in Buuri, and Kibirichia zone.

Kinoti said that they work in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Service that helps them in the extension services considering the county does not have enough officers.

The department sensitizes Meru residents on the importance of bamboo trees in the conservation of water sources and the general environment using the Water Resource Users Association where back in 2019, all the stakeholders were brought on board.

“We are calling on the residents to embrace planting of bamboo trees because it has many benefits in addition to its fast growth rate,” Kinoti said.

As a colony plant, bamboo uses its energy to expand its roots and grow more shoots in the spring. These shoots emerge out of the ground to grow taller and wider for around 60 days.

After 60 days, the canes stop growing altogether, and energy is directed back to the roots for the development of further canes.          This is where it diverges from most other flora, which put their energy into the continued growth of the original stem.

Once bamboo is established, (usually after 3 years), the new shoots that emerge each spring will continue to get bigger and bigger.

The bamboo tree also plays a great role in combating soil erosion as it helps hold the soil together.

By Brenda Gakii and Dickson Mwiti

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