•Green Africa Foundation founder Isaac Kalua said there is an urgent need to increase forest cover from the current 8.8 per cent to the required 10 per cent before 2030.
•Research reveals that Kenyans deplete more than 150 million trees annually. But this can be compensated by planting at least 730 million trees per year.
Kenyans should focus on planting trees to improve the economy and address environmental challenges, Green Africa Foundation founder Isaac Kalua has said.
Kalua urged Kenyans to volunteer and plant trees because they are sources of job opportunities through agriculture, and prevent environmental degradation.
He said continuous planting of trees will also increase forest cover and more rain.
Kalua spoke on Wednesday during the national tree growing campaign held at Arina Primary School in Ndhiwa constituency, Homa Bay.
Through the ‘Plant Your Age’ campaign initiative, Kalua asked Kenyans to plant trees which are equivalent to their ages.
He said there is an urgent need to increase forest cover from the current 8.8 per cent to the required 10 per cent before 2030.
“Kenyans should plant 696 million more trees to achieve the required percentage,” Kalua said.
Research reveals that Kenyans deplete more than 150 million trees annually. But this can be compensated by planting at least 730 million trees per year.
“Kenyans and the government should plant trees to ensure Kenya acquires 40 per cent forest cover by 2030,” he said.
Kalua said growing trees is a way of making the economy stable.
“Planting trees will help in conserving the environment by purifying air and formation of rainfall which is significant in agricultural production,” Kalua said.
During the celebrations, 1,881 trees were planted and others were distributed to residents to plant at their homes.
Other organisations that joined in planting trees are the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, World Bicycle Relief, Sukari Industries, Ecosystem Conservator, Homa Bay county centre for climate change and the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.
Homa Bay Kenya Forest Services officer Vitalis K’Owiti, environment journalist Charles Odhiambo and Juliet Kang'ara of World Bicycles Relief urged residents to embrace the spirit tree growing.
K’Owiti said Homa Bay was still lagging with a forest cover of 2.6 per cent.
“Residents should collaborate with our office to enable us to plant more trees. This will boost the required forest cover,” K’Owiti said.
Odhiambo asked residents to embrace the culture of planting trees to uplift their living standards.
He said planting more trees creates a micro-climate which supports agriculture.
“I know several people who are millionaires because they planted trees. Plant more trees so you sell them at maturity time and address your economic challenges,” Odhiambo said.
Kang’ara said it would be prudent for residents to take care of the trees to enable them to grow well.
“We’re giving bicycles to help in the movement to places where trees are going to be planted,” Kang’ara said.
Edited by Kiilu Damaris