Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya Wednesday challenged graduands to apply acquired skills, competencies and expertise in assisting the country achieve its landscapes and ecosystem restoration agenda that includes growing of 15 billion trees by 2032.
The CS spoke while she presided over the 46th graduation ceremony of the Kenya Forestry College in Londiani, Kericho County during which 118 trainees graduated with diploma and certificate qualifications in forest-related courses.
The Cabinet Secretary, who was accompanied by Forestry Principal Secretary Gitonga Mugambi, was received at Kenya’s only specialised forestry college by Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko, Kenya Forest Service board chairman Titus Korir and the college principal Dr Elizabeth Wambugu.
“These 118 young men and women have invested their time and effort, working tirelessly to successfully earn their diplomas and certificates.
“To all you graduands, I would like to urge you to take it upon yourselves to practice that which you learnt, in whatever capacity, during your time at this college.
“The country requires you to support our efforts in sustainable conservation, management and protection of the environment for her socio-economic development,” CS Tuya counseled the graduands.
At the same time, CS Tuya challenged the college leadership to continue innovating new courses aimed at addressing Kenya’s pressing climate action priorities and directed Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to ensure that the institution is adequately supported.
“I direct the KFS Board of Directors and Management to enhance forestry education and training at this college by developing appropriate policies, programmes and strategies.
“The Board also needs to provide the necessary human and financial resources to ensure that the graduands of this college have the required skill-set for the entire environmental sector,” CS Tuya underscored.
CS Tuya revisited Monday’s ‘green holiday’ saying Government had set aside the day to take advantage of ongoing short rains season to accelerate tree growing activities across the country as part of accelerated efforts to attain 15 billion trees target in 10 years.
“My ministry is currently rolling out the national landscapes and ecosystems restoration programme. The programme seeks to restore 10.6 million hactres of degraded ecosystems as well as raise our country’s tree cover to 30% by 2032.
“The programme will ensure support of livelihoods, combating climate change and protection of biodiversity,” CS Tuya said, noting that the tree growing objectives for the holiday had been met.
“Two days ago, we had a national tree growing day, where millions of Kenyans turned out in their numbers. If we continue with the trend like we saw two days ago, where Kenyans took part in restoration as a national duty, and we inculcate the culture of environmental conservation and protection to generations of our citizens, then Kenya will definitely become a green nation,” she said.
She added: “To you graduands, that will be part of your job, to help us in developing behaviour change of Kenyans to love and protect the environment.”
CS Tuya also spoke about reforms her ministry is implementing in order to open the forestry sector for wealth and employment creation as outlined in the Kenya Kwanza administration’s Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) that includes development of Kenya’s first forestry policy.
“As regards national development, the Kenya Forest Service is central in achievement of the “Bottom-Up Transformation Agenda”, the government’s blue print for development.
“To enable KFS to do this, the ministry is in the process of developing a forestry policy and reviewing the current legislative framework to support the continued development of forestry in the country,” CS Tuya said.
In his address, Forestry Principal Secretary Gitonga Mugambi assured KFS and the college of his state department’s continued support saying, the institution plays a critical role of developing appropriate skills needed in the sustainable management of Kenya’s forestry resources.
Other speakers at the auspicious event were Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko, KFS Board Chairman Titus Korir and the college Principal Dr. Elizabeth Wambugu.