• During the launch, Environment and Forestry PS Betty Maina called for concerted efforts to help achieve the government’s target of getting 10 per cent forest cover by 2022.
• Environmental activist Benson Wemali on Friday told the Star more than 70 per cent of Kenyans lack knowledge on forest conservation.
Kenyans are largely ignorant of the importance of forests in the country and that is why they attach little importance to afforestation, an environmental organization has said.
Active Environmental Team on Friday lauded the government’s initiative to create awareness on the importance of forest cover in the country in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.
Environmental activist Benson Wemali on Friday told the Star more than 70 per cent of Kenyans lack knowledge on forest conservation.
“They do not understand how the trees are connected to the change of weather patterns. If Kenyans are not educated on the importance of forests, there will always be a problem like in Mau Forest right now,” said Wemali, who is the Active Environmental Team coordinator.
Wemali said the Kenya Forest Service had been failing in sensitising the public on forests but has now pulled up its socks.
He spoke to the Star on the sidelines of a week-long forum where the REDD+ Academy was launched in Mombasa.
On Tuesday, during the launch, Environment and Forestry PS Betty Maina called for concerted efforts to help achieve the government’s target of getting 10 per cent forest cover by 2022.
The ambitious target is one of the ways to counter and mitigate the effects of global warming.
The PS said just like deforestation, afforestation will take years to be effective and every stakeholder should take responsibility.
“Forest officers cannot be present everywhere. Nobody can come and police you. You need to take responsibility,” she said.
A team of 45 people were trained on a comprehensive strategy for afforestation.
These include county government officers, NGOs, indigenous people’s groups, among others.
“We hope to build a cohort of people that will train others and all of us can then work to develop a new strategy - a REDD+ strategy in keeping with our global obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Maina.
The Reduction of Emission arising out of Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) is a strategy developed so as to mitigate the effects of global warming.
It involves all stakeholders, from the government to the community worker.
Maina said community and traditional forest management methods are welcome as long as they will help achieve the government’s target.
“Communities must play a big role in preserving trees and forests wherever they are. It is important that all individual Kenyans take responsibility for the trees,” said the PS.
United Nations Development Programme resident representative Walid Badawi said the REDD+ Academy will go a long way to returning the country to its former glory in terms of forest cover.
“With the launch of this REDD+ Academy, we hope to establish a cohort of capacity on issues of reducing emission,” said Badawi.
He said the academy will help accelerate the achievement of the target of at least 10 per cent forest cover by 2022.
“It is not single for any single actor to achieve this ambitious target on our own,” said Badawi.
He said national and local coordination is key for the success of the program.