A Japanese Organization has embarked on giving tree seedlings to residents of Oloropil and Olokruto wards that borders Maasai Mau forest in a bid to improve tree coverage in the dilapidated forest land.
The organization -Toyota Japan, working closely with Kenya Forest Service (KFS), targets to plant over 500, 000 indigenous and exotic trees in over 50, 000-hectares of individual land during this short rain season.
Speaking during the assessment of various tree seedbeds funded by the Toyota Environment Grant Program Wednesday, Community Road Empowerment (CORE) Project Manager, Ms. Yuka Iwamura said in a bid to conserve the forest, the community ought to plant trees.
“Maasai Mau forest has dwindled to paltry 40 percent and this occurred because the community invaded the forest to get trees for various activities such as timber, poles and firewood. We expect the community to tender the seedlings given so that they can benefit from them in future,” said Ms. Iwamura.
Iwamura said in a bid to curb the illegal logging in the forest, the organization has funded the tree project in order for the community to have their own ‘forests’ at their homes where they can get tree products for their daily lives.
Accompanied by CORE’s Environment Coordinator, Moses Kahuro, Iwamura said they are also targeting to supply 40,000 seedlings to six primary schools in Olokurto and Oloropil Wards in Narok North Constituency.
The education project is being undertaken by 1, 960 pupils and 60 teachers from six primary schools; Naituyupaki, Olorupa, St.Theresa, Enarau, Ilparakwo, Ilukumae and Olenoosiria schools that neigbours Maasai Mau forest.
The organization’s representative said the project will also go a long way in conservation of wildlife habitat as well as water catchment areas.
A resident of Olokruto, Joseph Masikonte hailed the project terming it an ‘eye-opener’ to the local community who were used to natural forests.
“We really laud this organization for coming up with this project. It has changed our lives for the better. Within 10 years from now, we shall be having our own trees and no one will be going to destroy the forest for charcoal, timber, poles or firewood,” said Masikonte.
The Community Road Empowerment (CORE) is also undertaking similar ambitious tree planting ventures in Narok, Elgeyo Marakwet, Transnzoia, Baringo and Nakuru counties.
Last week, the Department of Forest announced it is set to plant over 7.5 million seedlings at the expansive Mau Forest during this short rains period in a bid to rehabilitate the forest.
The Narok Ecosystem Conservator, Mwai Muraguri said they would work with churches, learning institutions and clubs to plant and tender the seedlings in various parts of the complex forest.
By Ann Salaton