Communities living along wetlands in Nandi County have been urged to be embrace and champion conservation and protection of the water catchment areas.
Led by Wildlife Principal Secretary Prof. Fred Segor, key stakeholders in ecology underscored the significant role played by the environment in supporting life through continuity in water provision.
Speaking during the launch of a tree planting exercise at Kibirong Wetland area of Nandi South Sub-county that saw over 5,000 indigenous trees planted, Segor pointed out that the current clamour to plant more trees is part of efforts aimed at improving the forest cover which currently stands at 7.2 percent. The country aims at achieving 10 percent cover by end of next year.
”We need to up our efforts as a country to boost our forest cover. Countries like China with a huge population are at 40 percent, we can also get there if we double our efforts,” He stressed.
The weeklong tree planting exercise is an initiative being promoted and executed jointly by the National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC), Kitwek FM – a Kenya Broadcasting Corporation-owned vernacular radio station broadcasting in Kalenjin, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) among other government agencies.
The PS further argued that flourishing natural habitats are an attraction to tourists who contribute about 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He discouraged acts of poaching and killing of wildlife for food.
“The government is keen in protecting wildlife and thus, it has employed over 3,500 rangers countrywide with 30 of them stationed in Nandi County to take care of the ecosystem,” Said Prof. Segor.
Speaking at the scene, Dr. John Chumo, the Secretary of the National Environmental Complaints Committee expressed worry that the Kibirong, Kingwal, and Mutwot wetlands are in the verge of extinction if residents do not rise up to the occasion and protect them.
“Our main aim of planting trees on the wetlands is to restore them for they are a source of livelihoods for communities living across the water catchment areas”, he explained.
The Kibirong wetland which lies on over 1,000 acres of land forms part of the source of Yala and Nyando rivers.
On her part, Winnie Chenono, the Kitwek FM team leader at the Nandi edition tree planting campaign, challenged the locals to take personal responsibility in environmental conservation reiterating that the environment plays a major role in development. She urged them to especially develop a culture of planting trees to safeguard water tables as the region is one of the country’s major wetlands.
“We all have a responsibility to conserve our environment for ourselves and for the generation and this will be achieved if we all commit to planting trees,” She said.
Popular to her fans as “Nono”, Cherono disclosed that prior to the tree planting activities, the station has been sensitizing communities and organizations in the larger Rift Valley Region on the importance of conservation. She said Kitwek, just like other KBC radio brands, has focused its programming on matters touching on the environment.
The current campaign will see over 200,000 trees planted in institutions, gazetted forest lands, and wetlands in the county.
Available data shows that Nyeri County leads in forest cover in the country at 38.2 percent, followed by Elgeyo Marakwet 37 percent, Baringo 31 percent. Nandi is at 26.2 percent.