10 Percent Forest Cover Determination Increases On This Year’s World Forest Day.

By Anthony Blaize

The Country should plant at least 2 billion tree seedlings in order to reach the expected 10 per cent forest cover by 2022, this is according to a recent Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) report.

Currently, the forest cover stands at 7.2 per cent as stated by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

Under the Presidential Directive the Constitutional target of 10 per cent national tree cover should be achieved by 2022 through, among other initiatives, the revival of chiefs’ tree nurseries with technical support of Kenya Forest Service and allocation of 10 per cent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to a tree growing by the private sector. In order to attain the 10 per cent tree cover by 2022, partnerships with both state and non-state actors are key in enhancing the cover through tree planting and growing initiatives that aim to spur a tree growing culture among communities. The 10 per cent forest cover strategy was launched by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to align with the National Forest Program, which is a cross-sectoral framework.

The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has firmed up the national tree planting and growing campaign through which it is seeking public support towards re-afforestation programs.

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya during this year’s World Forest Day, a day which is celebrated on the 21st of March every year, under the theme ‘Forest restoration: A path to recovery and well-being’ supported 70 religious leaders from the Kenya Interfaith Youth Network and Hindu Council of Kenya to hold a tree planting exercise at the Sri Sathya Sai School at Kisaju in Kajiado County. This was done through the ‘Reclaim Our Green’ initiative which seeks to plant 10million trees across the country and will strive to plant 5000 trees along the farm fence and will continue planting trees at the farm which is able to hold 50,000 trees.

The surest way to combat climate change is through reforestation. The link between forests and climate change adaptation and mitigation has repeatedly been underlined in United Nations (UN) climate talks.”

Mr. Walid Badawi

 “The surest way to combat climate change is through reforestation. The link between forests and climate change adaptation and mitigation has repeatedly been underlined in United Nations (UN) climate talks. Kenya has recognized that combating climate change without slowing deforestation is a lost cause. At UNDP, we will continue investing in national efforts led by the government to ensure that the country remains on a sustainable development path by investing in initiatives that address the nexus between environmental, social and economic considerations as we help the country build back better from COVID-19,” said Mr Walid Badawi, the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya.

Mr Badawi added that there is need for Public Private Partnerships in order to accelerate the realization of the set target forest cover and tackle climate change.

“The strategy inculcates a shared responsibility towards addressing climate change impacts and public concerns regarding protection, conservation and sustainable management of forest resources while enhancing the contribution of the forestry sector towards implementation of the Big 4 Agenda. This strategy provides for a series of interventions towards achieving and maintaining 10 per cent tree cover by 2022,” noted Badawi.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr Chris Kiptoo, stated that, “there are a number of interventions put in place to reach the 10 percent forest cover one of which is the National Tree Cover strategy. Under the strategy, Kenya needs to plant 1.8 billion seedlings between now and 2022 to achieve the targeted tree cover.”

In addition, he stated that the strategy will ensure conservation of natural resources for environmental protection and enhanced economic growth.

Dr Kiptoo added that, “other interventions entail implementation of innovative restoration programs such as Greening Kenya Initiative; Greening of infrastructure and Institutions, the “Adopt a Forest” concept and the Environmental Soldier Programme (ESP) of the Kenya Defense Forces to support seedlings production and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas.”

 “Enhanced national tree planting campaigns through national and county tree planting events, public education, awareness and sensitization, production of 1.8 billion quality tree seedlings by 2022 needed to increase tree cover. The strengthening of coordination and collaboration in the governance of the forest sector for implementation of the various national and county policies, legislations and rules that require increased tree planting. This includes strengthening the institutional capacity of Kenya Forest Service to implement its mandate,” said Dr. Kiptoo

Other measures that were addressed include the enhancement of conservation and protection of Natural Forests on public, community and private lands and rehabilitation of degraded areas, the establishment of commercial forest plantation on public, private and community lands to provide adequate and sustainable timber poles and fuelwood for industrial and domestic consumption.

Adoption of use of Alternative Energy Sources and efficient wood conversion and utilization technologies by institutions, industry and households and strengthening of forest resources assessment, monitoring and reporting capabilities of forest sector institutions, was also part of the measures highlighted.

Dr. Kiptoo

Adoption of use of Alternative Energy Sources and efficient wood conversion and utilization technologies by institutions, industry and households and strengthening of forest resources assessment, monitoring and reporting capabilities of forest sector institutions, was also part of the measures highlighted.

Kenya has over the years scaled up the war on deforestation by forging partnerships with both state and non-state actors as key in enhancing the forest cover through tree planting and growing initiatives that aim to spur a tree growing culture among the community. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has led to the downscaling of the national tree planting activities, the Ministry is now concentrating efforts in the Nairobi metropolitan area, while regional heads of conservancies are spearheading tree planting activities within their areas of jurisdiction and encouraging communities to plant within their farms and homesteads.

Religious leaders through the IRCK envision a world transformed, in which humanity in all its diversity has developed a shared reverence for life on Earth. Together, we are building resilient, caring communities and economies that meet everyone’s needs and protect the forests. Religious leaders are uniquely positioned to inspire action for the protection of forests. Their influence and inspirational power could provide the turning point that our forests urgently need.

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