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Rift Valley region targets to plant 20million trees

A total of 20 million tree seedlings are targeted for planting in the Rift Valley region by the end of June this year, Rift Valley Regional Commissioner (RC) Dr. Abdi Hassan has said.

Already nine million tree seedlings have so far been planted in various public forests, public institutions, and private farms, said the RC.

Speaking while leading a tree planting exercise where more than 11,100 tree seedlings were planted at Cengalo forest in Kesses constituency, Uasin Gishu County, Dr. Hassan said they are committed to achieving the target if the weather conditions continued to be favourable.

“To achieve the target, we are set to increase our campaigns to engage all stakeholders to join in the tree planting efforts, particularly in degraded government forests,” said the RC.

He said the region’s target was in line with President William Ruto’s directive of planting trees across the country as a mitigation measure against climate change.

Dr. Hassan urged residents to make tree planting a priority so as to increase the region’s forest cover and mitigate the effects of climate change.

He said the national and county governments would continue working together to achieve the 30% forest cover as directed by the President during last year’s Mashujaa day celebrations. The country’s forest cover currently stands at 12%.

In the past, some people had formed a bad behaviour of encroaching on government forests causing wanton destruction of trees and causing massive degradation of the forest, said the RC.

“I want to warn people who have the habit of encroaching on the government to engage in illegal logging that no one will be spared when caught. If found felling trees without following due process, you will be arrested and prosecuted as per the law,” warned Dr. Hassan.

He further cautioned contractors that they would not be allowed to needlessly cut down trees in the guise of implementing projects, and advised them to consult with relevant government agencies before cutting down any tree.

The RC who was flanked by Uasin Gishu County Commissioner Dr. Eddyson Nyale said the Uasin Gishu, hitherto identified as one of those counties with very low tree cover, has so far planted 800,000 trees in 700 hectares both in public and private land as part of a target given to the county to enhance forest cover.

He stated that there was evidence of human contribution to climate change as they cut down a significant number of trees for charcoal and firewood hence amplifying the fluctuating weather and climate events that caused the recent drought.

“There are more than 160,000 seedlings that are readily available in Kenya Forest Service stations for planting during the current rain season,” he noted.

He further urged National Government Administrative officers in different sub-counties to ensure trees are planted and taken care of as this move will boost the numbers to make sure there’s enough enforcement to protect the ecosystem.

There is a need for all Kenyans to work closely in environmental conservation and protection as there is a close correlation between forest conservation and food security,” he noted.

By Judy Too and Kiptanui Cherono

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