• 18,000 tree seedlings planted on Friday.
• He urged those farming in sections of the forest through plantation establishment and livelihoods improvement scheme to ensure that they plant trees.
Environment CS Keriako Tobiko has instructed the Kenya Forest Service to gazette Kaptagat Forest as a critical water tower.
Speaking at the forest on Friday, the CS said it plays a critical role in water catchment as well as other ecosystem services.
Tobiko said KFS will replenish the forest with indigenous trees.
He said exotic trees will be replaced with indigenous ones."No exotic trees will be planted," Tobiko said. He said the indigenous trees will revert the forest to its pristine state.
The CS urged the local community to support the government restoration efforts, saying Kaptagat Forest is a critical water tower that supplies water to the Lake Victoria region, Turkana all the way to Egypt.
He said destruction of the forest will affect people both down and upstream.
“The trees we planted here today are not for us but for our future generations”, Tobiko said.
Tobiko lashed out at residents who through a memorandum had requested to be allowed to access the forest with their livestock. He said KFS rangers will not allow livestock in the forest and that those found risk being auctioned.
He urged those farming in sections of the forest through plantation establishment and livelihoods improvement scheme to ensure that they plant trees.
The minister reiterated that the moratorium on logging does not affect harvesting of trees in private lands as long as there is approval from KFS.
Tobiko thanked EU envoy Simon Mordue and UNDP Representative Walid Badawi for supporting the government conservation agenda.
He said their presence at the forest was a significant commitment by the international community in environmental conservation.
During the event, 18,000 indigenous tree seedlings were planted on the Sabor Forest bloc.
Principal secretaries Chris Kiptoo (Environemnet), Esther Koimett (Broadcasting), Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago and several MPs and MCAs were also present.
Kiptoo, who is the patron of the initiative since 2017, said the main objectives of the annual event is to rehabilitate the degraded areas and riparian areas, creating awareness and sensitisation on tree growing and mobilisation of stakeholders in the region to participate in increasing the tree cover to 10 percent.
Tolgos said the environmental degradation has continued in all parts of the county especially in the escarpment, the water catchments and wetland areas, a fact he said had compromised the livelihoods of communities.
He said the Elgeyo Marakwet government will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders to negotiate for urgent collective action on sustainable forestry and tree growing, including dealing with the impacts of climate change.
“The role of our people, including local communities and indigenous people, remains imperative – and all needed action will be taken for this purpose” Tolgos said.
Edited by P.O