10% COVER BY 2022

Forestry service adopts measures to stop logging, illegal settlement

The government has pledged to increase forest cover by 10 per cent by 2022.

In Summary

• In Mau alone, some 10 million trees are set to be planted following evictions.

• At least Sh48 billion is needed for restoration efforts.

Mau forest.
Mau forest.
Image: Eric Thuo

Security has been enhanced in forests and water towers as the government intensifies conservation efforts across the country.

Kenya Forest Service chief conservator Julius Kamau said they aim to reduce illegal activities. "Securing forests and water towers is a long-term measure,” he said.

Kenya’s forest cover is currently at 7.2 per cent. However, the Constitution envisages a cover of more than 10 per cent. Already, the government has pledged to increase the cover by 10 per cent by 2022. To achieve this, at least Sh48 billion is needed.

"We are reaching out to partners in terms of securing seedlings for restocking,” Kamau said.

Kamau had a sideline briefing during a vehicle presentation ceremony for world marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge in Karura forest. The event was organised by Isuzu.

In Mau alone, some 10 million trees are set to be planted following evictions. He said the tree-planting drive on Maasai Mau was on course. The Mau will be allowed to regenerate naturally. Other measures include enrichment planting, replanting and seeding. 

Kamau urged athletes to adopt some of the forests such as Kaptagat in Uasin Gishu, noting they played a key role in their physical exercise.

“The area has been divided into different blocks of a hundred hectares to be able to allow partners to adopt them,” he said.

On November 1, the government flushed illegal settlers out of the Maasai Mau Forest, causing a huge uproar from local politicians. A multiagency team was involved in the operation. It then began a massive restoration drive.

Environment CS Keriako Tobiko oversaw the initial planting of 200,000 indigenous seedlings. Four million trees were planted by aerial seeding. 

Some 1,981kg of 13 tree species was broadcast. They included pencil cedar, Nile tulip, black ironwood, parasol tree, Meru oak, African satinwood, Cape chestnut, Muringa and African redwood.

The species was estimated to contain 60 million individual seeds, yielding 30 million seedlings at a conservative germination rate of 50 per cent. About 7,500 seedlings are expected to take root per acre after losses by birds and rodents are factored in. 

During the first Mau evictions, 11,000 acres were recovered. In the second phase, 22,000 acres were recovered. About 7,000 households were evicted and 15 schools declared illegal and shut.

Kamau urged Kenyans to complement government efforts to increase forest cover. He said small efforts by Kenyans end up having a huge positive impact. He said communities adjacent to forests will be used to secure them. 

"We are also going to do fencing. We also want to use communities around there to be a social fence,” he said.

“Kenyans should appreciate the importance of trees so that they can plant trees anytime for environment protection and economic gains."

The KFS is also looking at how to partner with the neighbouring communities to boost their livelihoods. 

(Edited by F'Orieny)

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