• The government wants to achieve 10 percent forest cover by 2022
• Tobiko says to achieve 10 per cent forest cover by 2022, there is a need to grow 360 million seedlings per year for the next three years
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has tasked the new Kenya Forestry Research Institute board to come up with strategies to increase the forest cover.
The CS gave directives to help increase the forest cover from 7.2 per cent to 10 per cent by 2022.
"You must focus on the Big Four agenda by coming up with a clear institutional strategy of increasing the forest cover to 10 per cent," he said when he unveiled the board at the Institution headquarters.
Board members inaugurated are Sammy Letema, Julius Kamau, Maureen Mwangovya, Kevin Kariuki, Naomi Apali, Antony Getambu, Ali Mohamed, Margaret Maimba, Henry Obino and Felix Ateng'.
They will serve for three years.
The CS urged the board "to move from boardroom" to the field.
He urged the team to educate the public on the need to plant trees, tap technology, and seek alternative ways of generating own revenue.
"We are concerned about the budget cuts," Tobiko said.
He said almost half a billion was taken out of the ministry, a move that "seriously compromises and jeopardises the capacity of the ministry and its entities to deliver."
The matter is being discussed by the Cabinet and the Treasury.
Tobiko said Kenya is faced with serious environmental challenges.
"Rain is unpredictable. Heat wave is being experienced in Nairobi, flash floods are causing havoc and water towers have dried up," he said.
Tobiko said to achieve 10 per cent forest cover by 2022, there is a need to grow 360 million seedlings per year for the next three years.
Kefri's seed production capacity is 16 metric tonnes, he said.
"We need to increase seed production in this year to 24 metric tonnes."
Tobiko said the forest cover will be achieved through the provision of quality seeds and by encouraging Kenyans to plant trees.
Kefri director Joshua Cheboiwo said the institute would enhance tree breeding and improve activities for 16 key commercial species.
"We will collaborate and partner with national and international partners to generate at least Sh100 million annually for research and development," he said.
Kefri board chair Sammy Letema said the 10th Board will focus on national seed banks and botanical gardens, especially in dry land areas.
Letema said graduate schools will be established as a way of building scientists' capacity.
"He said four botanical gardens will be established across the country.
Letema said every shilling from the government will be matched by that from scientists.