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 Tobiko Wants Maize Plantation Excluded in System 

The ministries of Energy, Environment and Forestry through the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) have partnered to rehabilitate 107.6 hectares of forest land in Kericho County.

            Cabinet Secretary, Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko, said that communities living around government forests in the country will not be allowed to intercrop young trees in forests with maize plantations as has been the practice with other crops under the popular shamba system.

Tobiko expressed this while launching the conservation partnership with Community Forest Service association at Mount Blanket Forest in Londiani, Kericho County on Friday.

            The Environment CS said that the ban on maize planting in government forest will stand until a Cabinet decision is made and direction given on forests’ use by communities in intercropping tree planting with maize.

            The CS further said that under the shamba system, it has been discovered that communities living around forest covers were first planting their crops and later plant a few trees, a practice he said, is the opposite of what is expected of them.

            Tobiko who was accompanied by the Energy CS Charles Keter and Kericho governor Prof Paul Chepkwony, the Chief Conservator of Forests, Mr Julius Kamau said that under the programme Adopt a Forest Initiative, the 107 hectares of forest land in Kericho will be rehabilitated with only indigenous trees.

            According to Tobiko, Londiani forest was chosen as part of the implementation of the presidential directive, which requires all government ministries and Semi-Autonomous Government Agencies (SAGAs) to contribute towards increasing the country’s forest cover to 10 per cent by 2022.

            The environment CS said that communities living around forests should be at the forefront in protecting and guarding the forests, as it is a source of their livelihood. He added that the constant differences between forests guards and the communities should ceased and mutual coexistence be encouraged, where everyone’s interest is to protect and preserve forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

            Tobiko thanked the Kericho County government and residents for taking a lead in conservation and protection of forests, saying that Kericho was one of the front runners in conservation and protection of its ecosystems. To commemorate the event about 500 indigenous tree seedlings were planted at Mount Blanket forest.

            Speaking at the same function, CS Keter said that the energy ministry will spend Sh. 74 million in rehabilitating Londiani and Nyeri as part of increasing forest cover in the country and assisting in conservation and building of reliable rain patterns.

            The CS reaffirmed his ministry’s commitment to planting trees and rehabilitating forests and appealed to the communities living around Londiani and other forests to guard them jealously as they are also a source of traditional medicine.

            Keter said that about 40 percent of the energy that is produced in Kenya come from water and this also depends largely on forests where the rivers emanate from, hence the need for the energy ministry to partner with the environment and forestry ministry in conserving water catchment sites in the country.

Governor Chepkwony said that the forest cover at Kericho was now at 22.5 percent and intends to increase the same by 6 percent in a period of six years through their strategic plans.

            He said his administration had enacted environment related policies which include, County Climate Change Act 2020 and County Environmental Management Act 2020 that are meant to provide solutions to environmental challenges which include climate change and conservation efforts for sustainable use.

            Prof. Chepkwony appealed to the Environment CS to allow the local residents to harvest mature trees while replanting the already harvested sides instead of other wood logs merchants from outside the County who are currently harvesting forest products.

            During the event, the Kenya Forest Service and Londiani Community Forest Association signed an agreement for joint management of the Londiani forest.

By Dominic Cheres

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