Members of the Indian community in Uasin Gishu County yesterday planted over 23,000 trees to increase forest cover as part of an intensified afforestation programme.
The Shree Swaminarayan community planted the trees in 4.6 hectares of land in Timboroa forest which forms part of the country’s five water towers.
“We are engaging various stakeholders to increase the country’s forest cover from the current 7.2 per cent tothe recommended international standard of 10 per cent,” said Kanti Rabadia, the community leader.
More than 500 members participated in the exercise as part of the government's plan to plant over 1.8 billion trees by 2022.
According to Uasin Gishu County executive for Environment Mary Njogu, more than 4 million trees out of the targeted 14 million have been planted in the region so far.
“We plan to plant more than 14 million trees this year and rehabilitate the over 300 dams to help mitigate climate change,” said Ms Njogu.
North Rift head of conservancy Benjamin Kinyili added that more than 189.5 hectares of forest land has been rehabilitated and an additional 314.4 hectares of farm and dry land planted with trees this season.
“More than 3,000 hectares forest land is under commercial plantation while another 2,000 hectares is under farm forestry,” said Mr Kanyili.
Kenya Forest Service (KFS) county coordinator Thomas Kiptoo said more than 16 million seedlings will be planted in 1,030 hectares this season.
Despite all this, the KFS has admitted facing an acute shortage of rangers to enforce protection of forests.
“We are experiencing a national problem in terms of staffing to protect our forests and it is our appeal to all Kenyans to participate in environmental conservation efforts,” the agency's deputy chief conservator of forests Patrick Kariuki said.
KFS requires at least 4,500 rangers for effective management and protection from illegal loggers.
“Illegal settlement, encroachment of forests for agricultural purposes and destruction of tree seedlings are some of the factors contributing to decline forest cover,” said Mr Kariuki.
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