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January 17, 2019

Karura forest gets biological control of pests

A view of Karura Forest.Photo/File
A view of Karura Forest.Photo/File

Foresters at Karura have introduced biological control treatment to tree seedlings to fight pests and diseases.

According to John Orwa, over 45,000 tree seedlings have been introduced to a biological plant protection against fungal attacks.

Orwa said one of the greatest threats especially when the seedlings are tender is pests and disease attacks.

"With this biological control method, we are sure we can increase the seedlings population and this is a key ally in helping us meet our 10 per cent forest cover,” Orwa said.

The breakthrough in the use of biological control methods to protect tree seedlings comes in the wake of spirited efforts by foresters to increase the cover of Nairobi as a key carbon sink that purifies carbon dioxide and other gases emitted by the over 700,000 vehicles on Nairobi streets and other industrial activities.

"Last year we managed to plant 350,000 trees some which were meant for sale. And as demand burgeons, we need solutions that ensure that trees are healthy from the time they are seedlings,” he said.

The forester explained that indigenous and exotic tree seedlings in the forest have been under fungal attack due to their tender tissues.

"Root and butt rot disease has been one of the most devastating for fruit and forest trees. The pathogens attack roots and stems disrupting the uptake of water and nutrients from the soil. This may lead to wilting, yellowing, leaf fall, stunting and even death of the trees," he said, adding that foresters have traditionally resulted in the use of cultural control methods which haven’t proven effective.

The investment is a partnership between crop solutions specialists Koppert Biological Systems and Karura Forest in a bid to bolster the country’s forest cover and salvage the largest gazetted forest in Kenya

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