Leading environmental conservation, community and business entities have Tuesday undertaken a record breaking 35,000 indigenous trees planting on the slopes of Mt Kenya.
As part of the ongoing National Tree Planting Campaign spearheaded by Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko,Mount Kenya Safari Club, Community Forest Associations, Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Forest Service, officials from Laikipia and Nyeri County Governments among others, converged at Plot 1M, Nanyuki Forest Station for the massive tree planting exercise.
Speaking as the exercise got underway, Mount Kenya Safari Club and Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy Chairman Mr. Humphrey Kariuki accompanied by Laikipia County Governor, Nderitu Muriithi, said the two entities will support planting and nurturing to maturity of the 35,000 trees as part of their corporate commitment to facilitate environmental conservation.
The planting of indigenous trees, Kariuki said, is deliberate and aimed at sustaining the fragile Mt Kenya ecosystem.
“Planting of indigenous trees also provides us with a chance to invest in a better tomorrow. A tomorrow where we can look forward to harnessing nature’s goodness in the form of medicinal plants from this forest among other benefits,” he said and added that, “at the Mt Kenya Wildlife Conservancy/Ranch, we are also committed to replicating the commitment to accelerate use of renewable energy sources including solar and biomass to meet the growing energy needs.” He said.
While imploring local stakeholders to embrace tree planting campaigns, Kariuki further noted that environmental degradation in Kenya has crossed the danger level necessitating emergency interventions.
“It is not a government responsibility, but an individual one. If half of our national population of 20 million, committed to planting and nurturing 5 trees per year in our shambas, we could account for an additional 100 million trees planted per year. This would be a forest covering 200,000 acres or 8 times the size of Nairobi National Park! In 10 years we could cover the equivalent of 2 million acres or 100 times the size of Nairobi National Park,” he noted.
Having been born and brought up on the slopes of Mt Kenya, Kariuki expressed regret that environmental degradation had occasioned major environmental changes with adverse effects.
“Due to massive environmental degradation, we have lived to see local rivers drying up. The big swollen rivers around these slopes from Likii to Sagana River feeding into the mighty Tana River among others are today pitiful streams with bare rocks,” he said.
The planting of 35,000 trees on the Mt Kenya forest is the biggest single reforestation exercise to be undertaken in recent times.
All the indigenous trees have been purchased from local Community Forest Associations (CFA’s) who will also be incorporated in the planting and nurturing to maturity programme.
Early last month, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, kicked off a national tree planting exercise as part of a strategic campaign to increase forest cover to 10% by the year 2022.
Leading from the front, the Ministry Headquarters staff, line agencies including the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI), Kenya Meteorological Department and the Kenya Water Towers Agency planted 10,000 trees at the Ngong’ Forest reserve.
At the exercise which was spearheaded by Cabinet Secretary, Keriako Tobiko the Ministry agencies planted and committed to adopt thousands of trees to celebrate the National Tree Planting Campaign. The Ministry, Tobiko said, will provide technical support for local public and private sector institutions taking part in the National Tree Planting Campaign.
The National Tree Planting Campaign comes hot on the heels of the recent commitment by the Council of Governors (CoG) to support the national government’s reforestation efforts.