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UNEP to commemorate 50 years by planting trees

Each of the 193 United Nations (UN) Member States will on Sunday February 27, plant a commemorative tree, indigenous to each state, to raise the environmental agenda of increasing forest cover world-wide.

At the same time, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), shall be allocated a “‘trees corner or ‘green space’” which they shall adopt, to ensure that the trees, and others to be planted thereafter, are well tended and grow to posterity, beyond the 50th anniversary of UNEP (UNEP@50), to be celebrated from March 3 to 4 .

This was announced today by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Mr. Keriako Tobiko, during a virtual inter-ministerial meeting, where he conveyed that the tree planting ceremony is part of Kenya’s strategy of “greening its cities,” a move that is expected to be adopted by the major cities, as well as urban towns in the country.

The event, taking place at City Park, Nairobi, is also a curtain raiser to the fifth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA -5.2) that kicks off at Gigiri, Kenya on Monday February 28 through to March 2.

The Nairobi City Park, through a Legal Notice on Kenya Gazette Supplement No. 99 dated September 4, 2009 became a protected area. Established in 1921, as a zoological garden, the park has maintained a large tree and plant nursery with a sale yard, where members of the public can buy parts. The forest is indigenous with a number of tree species endemic to Kenya, with over 1,000 species of flora and fauna.

Led by the CS, representatives from the Member States, including several Ministers of Environment from around the globe, shall have the opportunity to ‘speak their national tree language’, symbolically, through the selected trees indigenous to them, that shall be supplied by the Kenya Forest Services (KFS).

Keriako asked KFS in collaboration with Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to consider identifying and setting aside a larger area for future tree planting activities, that can be adopted by environmental-friendly entities, who will ‘farther the cause of greening our nation.’

‘Greening Kenya Campaign’, was launched in December 2018, which focuses on growing trees in schools, universities, education centres, farmlands and dryland and now extended in cities and major towns. The initiative is part of Kenya’s aim to plant 1.8 billion trees and achieve more than 10 per cent forest cover in the country by 2022. Currently, KFS estimates the national forest cover to be 7.4 per cent.


On the same day, a ‘fun run’ championed by Athletics Kenya, is expected to take place. A number of professional runners and ordinary citizens will be participating. Kenya is acclaimed globally, for its prowess of track events, especially, long distance races.

Keriako is also of the conviction that Kenya should leverage on this opportunity to showcase the national and historical significance of City Park, as a custodian of national heritage.

The Park hosts the final resting place of Kenya’s post-independence second Vice President, Joseph Murumbi, and country’s first political martyr, Pio Gama Pinto. At the Park, and in his memory, there is Murumbi Peace Memorial containing different artifacts by re-known artists from his larger collection. In addition, and in his honour, an entire ground floor of Kenya National Archives is dedicated to Murumbi Art Gallery.

There are also several Commonwealth war memorial graves, for World War (WW) 1 and 11. These shall bring to the limelight, Kenya’s involvement in major world events, having participated as a British colony, during the two world wars.

By Nancy JN Mathu

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