Nyanza region is a net importer of wood products because it has insufficient forest cover, the Regional Kenya Forest Service boss, Dedan Nderitu has said.
Nderitu, who paid a courtesy call on the Siaya County Commissioner (CC), Michael Ole Tialal on Thursday, said that the region’s forest cover was a paltry 2.3 per cent, far low from the recommended national average of 10 per cent.
This, the official said, has made Nyanza rely heavily on other regions for its timber and other wood products needs.
Nderitu, who is the head of Nyanza conservancy, said the situation was worse in Siaya, where the forest cover stands at 0.42 per cent and urged the residents to help reverse the trend by embracing tree planting.
He said that there were close to 15 million tree seedlings in Nyanza out of which 4.6 million are in Siaya county’s tree nurseries.
Speaking during the occasion, Ole Tialal lamented that most locals shy away from planting trees.
“It is embarrassing and the locals must pull up their socks,” he said, adding that some residents cling to cultural beliefs that bar them from planting trees in their parents homes.
The CC said that land ownership, where most of the land is still registered in great grand parents’ names was also a stumbling block to tree planting efforts.
He said that those who have managed to change ownership and subdivide land and have it registered under their names are planting more than those who still live on family lands.
Tialal said that his office was targeting public institutions in its tree planting initiatives and was encouraging the establishment of tree nurseries in each chief’s camp in the area.
By Philip Onyango