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Nakuru County Govt ramps up tree restoration programme 

In a bid to counter the effects of global warming and climate change, the Nakuru County government has rolled out a drive to increase the tree cover to more than 15 percent.

Water, Environment, Energy, Climate Change and Natural resources CEC Dr Nelson Maara said the devolved unit had started planting trees on the hilltops, institutions and on public land in all the 11 Sub-Counties that will help in managing unreliable rainfall.

Dr. Maara affirmed the County Government’s commitment to support President William Ruto’s Special Presidential Forestry and Rangeland Acceleration Programme, which is tasked with ensuring 15 billion trees are planted in 10 years.

“Our aim is to contribute to the country’s wider goal of increasing its forest cover which currently is at an alarming rate of less than 10 per cent,” he said.

The County Executive Committee Member (CECM) said Governor Susan Kihika’s administration was working with various stakeholders to turn around the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change.

Dr. Maara cited partnerships with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenyatta University, Green Blue Foundation Africa, learning institutions, community based organizations and religious organizations adding that current 9.2 percent tree cover mark in the county was unsatisfactory.

The CECM who was accompanied by his Agriculture counterpart Mr Leonard Bor made the remarks at Sirikwa village within Kuresoi North Sub-county after distributing 11,000 tree seedlings to local residents.

While noting that the President has set a new target of 30 per cent of tree cover by 2032, from the current 12.13 per cent Dr Maara said communities are now involved in management of the natural resources in what has resulted in a high sense of ownership.

He said the County Government had embarked on a mission to combat carbon dioxide emissions in the country by planting 10 million trees between now and 2025.

“The work will include enabling communities to raise tree nurseries and supply seedlings to residents for planting under a programme that will be implemented in all the eleven sub-counties.

 

The communities are encouraged to plant trees with high commercial value that are environmentally friendly,” Dr Maara stated.

Climate change, he said, has also burdened other sectors, including health and infrastructure, as well as disrupting local and international supply chains.

“To a considerable extent, these adversities are the direct and indirect consequences of human failure to observe its ecological imperative. The solution is to plant trees to reduce greenhouse emissions, to stop and reverse deforestation so that the human race is saved from the climate catastrophe,” added the CECM.

Dr. Maara stated that increasing tree cover in Kenya would help reduce human-wildlife conflicts.

He indicated that millions of wildlife that depend on forest cover for their existence are faced with extinction due to illegal logging and failure to plant trees.

“A high number of animals have been killed by communities after straying from the forests, national parks and game reserves for lack of tree cover, food and water. This trend can be reversed with sensitization of the local communities on the need to conserve the environment and protect wildlife, which is a national heritage,” he noted.

The national government wants to have a minimum of 10 percent forest cover in Kenya by involving various stakeholders.

In November last year President William Ruto launched a tree restoration program at Ngong Hills Forest to kick start his plan of planting 15 billion trees by 2032.

Dr Ruto said the initiative will help combat the effects of climate change, which has unleashed calamities such as droughts, floods, unpredictable rainfall patterns and disease and pest outbreaks.

Nyeri County leads with an estimated 38 percent tree cover, a record that the Nakuru County administration is confident it will surpass in a couple of years.

According to KFS Rift Valley has an average forest cover of 14.6 percent with Elgeyo Marakwet accounting for the highest at 37 percent followed by Baringo at 25 percent, Kericho at 23.5 percent, Nandi 16.8 percent, Narok 16.6 percent and TransNzoia at 16.1 percent.

Others are Samburu at 12.8 percent, Bomet 12.7 percent, Nakuru 9.2 percent, West Pokot 8.3 percent, Uasin Gishu 7.5 percent, Kajiado 7.1 percent, with Laikipia and Turkana trailing at 6.7 percent and 4.06 percent respectively.

In his remarks Dr Bor said women, youths and vulnerable groups will be incorporated into the programme to establish tree nurseries with the support of Community Forest Associations (CFAs) in the ambitious plan to raise tree cover.

“KFS is expected to provide 8 million tree seedlings with the county government topping up with 2 million tree seedlings that will be distributed for planting in farmlands and gazetted forests,” ,” the CECM pointed out.

With the challenges brought by global warming, Mr Bor said there was an urgent need for counties to join hands with various development partners and donor agencies to formulate sound and practical policies to conserve the environment, increase forest cover, provide clean and safe-to-drink water for the communities and raise the people’s livelihoods.

The Agriculture CECM observed that if every Kenyan plays their part, each would only have to plant 30 trees per year, or 300 in 10 years.

He stated that the devolved unit was fast-tracking development and implementation of spatial plans so as to guide environmental conservation and food security and create job

By Jane Ngugi and Angela Cherotich

 

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