•The state plans to grow 15 billion trees in the next 10 years at a cost of Sh600 billion.
•Kefri will collect, process and disperse seedlings, guide on-site matching, provide technologies for tracking progress, and promote farm forestry among others
The Kenya Forestry Research Institute is set to shoulder huge responsibility in the state’s bid to achieve a 30 per cent tree cover by 2032.
Kefri is crucial in undertaking research and providing technologies and information for sustainable management, conservation and development of forests and allied natural resources.
Kefri CEO Dr Joshua Cheboiwo said they were up to the task in helping the government achieve the bid.
“Kefri has put in place strategies to collect, process and distribute tree seeds equivalent to two billion seedlings required to meet the country's tree cover needs,” he said.
Cheboiwo said the government’s bid to increase tree cover is aimed at mitigating the negative impact of climate change.
Under the new plan, the state plans to grow 15 billion trees in the next 10 years at a cost of Sh600 billion.
This means that each year, the budget is approximately Sh60 billion.
The 15 billion tree campaign translates to 30 trees per Kenyan per year over the next 10 years.
The state hopes that by 2032, the country’s tree cover will have hit 30 per cent from the current 12.13 per cent.
The forest cover increased from 5.9 per cent in 2018 to 8.83 per cent in 2021, while the national tree cover stands at 12.13 per cent above the constitutional target of 10 per cent.
Results generated from the National Forest Resources Assessment 2021 show that the country has 5,226,191.79ha of national forest cover, which represents 8.83 per cent of the total area.
In addition, results reveal that the country has a tree cover per capita index of 1,507.48m2 per person.
The report shows the distribution of forests and tree cover across the 47 counties.
According to the assessment, 37 counties out of 47 (79 per cent) have a tree cover percentage greater than the constitutional set target of 10 per cent tree cover.
The Central region, parts of the Western and Coast regions are the most forested.
The proportion of total land area under forests and tree cover varies significantly by ecological regions and counties.
Nyeri has a tree cover of 45.17 per cent, Lamu (44.06) and Vihiga (35.92).
Counties with the lowest tree cover include Kisumu (8.85), Busia (8.39), Uasin Gishu (8.04), Taita Taveta (6.87), Isiolo (6.7), Machakos (6.03), Siaya (5.27), Wajir (4.45), Mandera (3.61) and Marsabit (2.06).
The report shows that wooded grasslands account for the highest land cover in Kenya, with approximately 70 per cent of the total land area.
Kefri has also been tasked with ensuring that there are enough seedlings for the 15 billion campaigns.
Cheboiwo recently disclosed that Kefri has been given a target of 1,000 metric tonnes of seeds for 10 years.
“This translates to 100 metric tonnes per year. We are now approaching 50 metric tonnes per year,” he said.
He said Kefri has three responsibilities with regard to the 30 per cent tree cover in 2022-32.
“One is to provide seeds to all stakeholders in the country. We have to accelerate our collection and processing to move towards 100 metric tonnes per year,” he said.
He further said Kefri is making the operation an ICT platform known as ‘Jaza Miti.’ The platform helps those planting to know the species that is best suited to their areas.
It also records the number of trees that have been planted to ensure higher survival rates.
Cheboiwo said Kefri also has the responsibility of providing technical support and capacity building to those with nurseries every time they require science-led advice.
The CEO said the institution is also establishing a commercial and forest innovation centre to be a one-stop shop for those who want to invest in forestry.
Kefri has been promoting bamboo species that were introduced in 1986.
“We introduced 12 at that time and only four did relatively well,” he said.
Cheboiwo said another four were not doing very well, adding that Kefri has since mapped the country into bamboo zones.
“We have been assisting stakeholders across the country to import seeds and train them on how to propagate bamboo in their nurseries,” he said.
On Tuesday, forestry PS Ephantus Kimotho distributed seeds to Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions.
Kimotho flagged off 2.2 tonnes of tree seeds, which consisted of 100 different tree species at Kefri Headquarters in Muguga, Kiambu county.
The PS highlighted the importance of growing trees to restore degraded landscapes and mitigating climate change.
On May 5, Environment CS Soipan Tuya tasked Kefri scientists to advise Kenyans on how to grow the trees.
They will help in site matching to enhance survival rates.
Tuya said Kefri scientists will be stationed in 18 seed centres across the country that will be operational by the end of May.
“These seed centres under the Kenya Forestry Research Institute, will produce both indigenous seeds and fruit tree seeds for propagation across Kenya Forest Service nurseries and private and community nurseries across the country,” she said.
Tuya said her ministry is doing its best to meet the seedling demands.
She said they have reached out to other ministries, departments and agencies such as Kenya Prisons Service, Kenya Defence Forces, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Police Service, and the National Youth Service to help with seedling propagation.
“We are also working with members of Parliament through the National Constituency Fund to hire youths – our Green Army - within their respective constituencies - to raise seedlings in schools and within their communities, while gaining income from these activities, in line with the government’s bottom-up agenda,” she said.