Environment, Climate Change and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya has announced Government plans to accelerate tree growing activities across the country during the short rains season predicted to run from September to February next year.
“The ministry is already putting in place a robust plan for tree growing with the coming short rains. We will have a 6 month tree growing calendar from the month of September this year to February next year.
“Kenya Meterelogical Department has indicated to us, that the rains might extend between these months. We are keen to optimize tree growing in that period since we are behind with the numbers,” CS Tuya announced.
Speaking during a tree planting exercise organised by Mrs Tessie Musalia’s Ushiriki Wema initiative at National Police Service Embakasi B Campus in Utawala, Nairobi County on Saturday, CS Tuya said the 15 billion trees initiative had been slowed down by a shortage of seedlings.
“We should have planted close to 750 million seedlings between December last year and today, but that was not possible because our seedling potential was low when we got into government,” the CS said.
She said her ministry had accelerated seedling production by setting up eleven new seed centres across the country, adding that a further seven such facilities will be ready by end of next month.
“These seed centres will enable us to produce tonnes of seed that will translate to at least 2 billion seedlings a year. With such numbers of seedlings, we will only be amplifying uptake by organizations such as Ushiriki Wema, other MDAs and citizens across the country to get the target of 15 billion realised,” CS Tuya said.
Once again, the CS rallied Kenyans to plant trees at every available opportunity including birthdays, weddings and burials, reiterating that to achieve the 15 billion trees in 10 years ambition, each Kenyan needed to grow 30 trees yearly.
“15 billion trees sounds like a big figure, but when broken down to 50 million Kenyans, it translates to every Kenyan planting only 30 trees a year, and 300 trees in 10 years. 300 trees is a number that one can actually plant in the shortest time possible, maybe even in a week,” CS Tuya said.
She thanked Mrs Musalia for the tree growing partnership with the National Police Service that has seen Ushiriki Wema spearhead the growing of 9,000 seedlings across three NPS campuses in Kiganjo, Nyeri and Utawala in one month.
“I am informed that you launched this program at Kiganjo at the beginning of this month, where you planted 3,500 trees. Proceeded to Embakasi A Campus last weekend where you planted 3,000 trees, and today at this campus we have planted 2,500 trees. I would like to assure you that it is these incremental steps that will make Kenya realize the 15 billion target that will give us a national 30% tree cover,” CS Tuya told Mrs Musalia.
She added: “Hon Tessie Musalia, thank you for taking leadership in this front with this organization. The trees we grow will benefit the country in many ways, including taming the devastating effects of climate change by carbon sequestration, increasing our water flows as well as providing us critical ecosystem services”.
She said the Government intends the 15 billion national tree growing programme to be a whole-of-society undertaking where every Kenyan has a role to play, and assured Ushiriki Wema of her ministry’s availability to offer technical support.
“When the President launched the 15 billion campaign last year, he guided that it be executed through whole-of-society, whole-of-government approach. That is exactly what you at Ushiriki Wema are manifesting.
“My ministry is happy to work with you to offer technical support of seedling propagation and extension services you may require. We have scientists at Kenya Forestry Research Institute and Kenya Forest Services who are available to guide you,” CS Tuya offered.
On tracking of the national tree growing initiative, CS Tuya said her ministry will soon launch the Jaza Miti application, an online repository customized to offer services such as species-matching of tree seedlings.
“We have also as a ministry developed a technological application dubbed Jaza Miti, that helps us document tree planting. The application also helps with other specifications such as species-to-site matching, and in the next few weeks, we will have it loaded with the data sets of all tree nurseries in the country, that way, Kenyans on the click of a button can find all relevant tree growing information on their phones,” CS Tuya said.
On her part, Mrs Musalia reiterated her organization’s commitment to the 15 billion national tree growing agenda saying she had chosen to partner with NPS in the tree growing endeavor because of its history of success.
Alongside ecosystem restoration, Mrs Musalia said Ushiriki Wema seeks to involve persons with disability in its tree growing programme so as to empower them to contribute more to national development.
“One of our areas of focus as Ushiriki Wema is persons with disability. To create awareness. What we have realized is that to empower persons with disability is to enable them,”Mrs Musalia said at the event also attended by several GSU officers injured in the line of duty.
GSU Commandant Mr Eliud Lang’at, NPS Embakasi B Campus Commanding Officer Mr Charles Naibei and AHADI Kenya CEO Dr Stanley Kamau also spoke at the tree planting exercise.