The Narok County government in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund Kenya (WWF) has embarked on an initiative that will increase tree coverage from the current 16.7 percent to 18 percent.
The Narok County Ecosystem Conservator, Mwai Muraguri said most of the tree coverage in the county, is in the expansive Maasai Mau ecosystem that has contributed to the high percentage tree coverage in the County.
“The 16.7 percent is contributed by the Maasai Mau Forest, but in our individual homes and institutions, there are no trees. It is time we rise up to plant trees in our farms, so as to boost the current coverage,” he said.
He said his department is sensitizing farmers to plant at least 64 trees, per acre which will make the 10 percent coverage in the piece of land.
“Even though our county is famous of planting wheat, barley and maize; we want to encourage farmers to plant a tree at a distance of ten meters by ten meters, which will easily achieve the ten percent tree coverage in the piece of land.
Muraguri said that a lot of efforts and talks were directed towards the Mau Forest, yet individual farmers were doing very little to boost the forest cover.
“Narok is famous for ecotourism, but if we do not conserve our environment, the rivers will slowly start drying up and the wildlife start migrating to other areas where there is enough food. At the end of the day, we will be the greatest losers. This is why we have to guard our forests jealously,” said Muraguri.
He was speaking at Ole Tipis Secondary School in Narok North Sub-County on Monday, where he observed that Uganda has tree coverage of 30 percent, Tanzania 15 percent, while Kenya is lagging behind the two countries at 7.22 percent, saying every citizen has a duty to ensure the tree coverage reach 10 percent.
The Narok County Executive member in charge of Environment and Natural Resources, Job Kiyiapi said the county was committed to give seedlings to every individual so as to attain the 10 percent coverage.
Kiyiapi encouraged the education department to strengthen environmental clubs that will champion for over 10 percent tree coverage in their respective institutions.
“The initiative aims at encouraging and empowering pupils and the residents to conserve the environment by planting trees, and tendering them through school based forestry clubs in schools,” he said.
The WWF representative, Julius Mburu said his organization will continue sensitizing Kenyans on the need to plant trees and where need be donate and join them to plant trees.
Mburu said they will be planting both exotic and indigenous trees, adding that exotic trees take only five years to mature while indigenous trees take over 25 years to mature.
“Some of the type of trees we are planting include, Jacaranda, bamboo, sandal wood and fruit trees which include avocado, mango and tomato trees,” he said.
By Ann Salaton/Vincent Watala