The Government of Kenya in conjunction with the African Development Bank through the Green Zones Development Support Project (GZDSP) Phase II has launched a forest ranger’s outpost at Nyangweta forest in Etago Sub-County, Kisii County.
Speaking during the commissioning of the facility, Chief Conservator of Forests at Kenya Forest Services (KFS), Mr. Julius Kamau said the outpost will provide a footprint for forest officers and forest rangers to provide advice and security to the surrounding community and protect forest resources within the county.
Kamau noted the facility is the first forest ranger’s outpost in Gusii region and will ensure that KFS has a presence at the grassroots level with the aim of supporting the farmers and improving their livelihoods.
The Chief Conservator lauded the forest officers at the regional and county levels for collaborating with the other government agencies saying it is critical for them to work together to push the government’s agenda of planting 15 billion trees by 2032.
At the moment, Kenya’s tree cover stands at 12.1 percent while the forest cover is 8.83 percent and this new tree planting initiative will ensure the forest and tree covers attain 30 percent.
Kamau noted that Kisii has a huge tree potential growth and challenged residents to grow trees for various reasons including agroforestry species, fruit trees and woodlot to enable the country achieve its tree planting goal.
He pointed out that achieving the 30 percent tree cover and forest cover will reduce the dependency on forest resources for encroachment and illegal cutting of trees by the residents because they will have their own trees on farms.
The Chief Conservator encouraged the Nyangweta Community Forest Association to register their nursery project with KFS so that they can benefit from the government and other partners who will procure their tree seedlings.
The GZDSP Manager, Mr. Jerome Mwanzia lauded the Kisii County Government and local residents for supporting the establishment of the forest ranger’s outpost adding that six facilities are coming up in other counties to enhance KFS activities at the grassroots level.
He noted the facilities will boost the morale of forest rangers as they will have a conducive environment to conduct regular patrols leading to a reduction in destructive activities within the forests.
Speaking at a separate event during the graduation ceremony of Forest Farmers Field Schools from Kisii and Nyamira held at Nyamache Sub County, Mr. Mwanzia noted that GZDSP supports different activities in both counties including mixed farming, fruit trees, woodlot and income-generating activities.
The Project Manager pointed out that the dairy farming projects in both counties are progressing exceptionally well, adding that they have not only boosted the farmers’ income, but also improved the nutrition of vulnerable families in the region.
He said the group of trained farmers have gone for exchange visits and will help to bridge the gap that was left by retired Forest Extension Officers in the counties.
The Green Zones Development Support Project-Phase II is a 6-year project (2018-2024) that comprises of three main components including forest conservation and livelihood support, sustainable and inclusive value chains development and project management and coordination.
The project is being implemented in Embu, Meru, Machakos, Tharaka-Nithi, Nyeri, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Nakuru, Baringo, Kericho, Bomet, Nyamira and Kisii counties which cover four forest conservancies and three of Kenya’s water towers including Mt. Kenya, Aberdares, and the Mau complex.
By Mercy Osongo and Jefferson Volka