ENVIRONMENT CONSERVATION

There's a need to recommit ourselves to tree planting

There was a determined effort to protect and conserve the environment.

In Summary

• Kenya only has a forest cover of 7.5 per cent, below the 10 per cent target.

• The message that forest cover must be increased to 10 per cent must reach everyone as deforestation has certainly accelerated climate change.

Indigenous trees planted and nurtured by Kapkogo CFA in Kapchemutwa forest. /STEPHEN RUTTO
Indigenous trees planted and nurtured by Kapkogo CFA in Kapchemutwa forest. /STEPHEN RUTTO

Kenyans seem to have engaged the reverse gear in environmental conservation. Decades ago, April, indeed the onset of the long rains season, was dedicated to tree planting.

The founding president, Mzee Jomo Kenyata, used to lead the nation in tree planting. He introduced a national tree planting day. Daniel arap Moi followed Mzee's nyayo of planting trees and went further by encouraging the construction of gabions on slopy areas to save the soil from erosion.

There was a determined effort to protect and conserve the environment. Over time, the public understood the need to treat national resources as their own to conserve and protect. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Kenya has a forest cover of 7.5 per cent, below the 10 per cent target. Not so long ago, the national leadership and other stakeholders launched a campaign to plant an additional 1.8 billion trees.

The message that forest cover must be increased to 10 per cent must reach everyone as deforestation has certainly accelerated climate change.  Diurnal temperatures since January have been unusually high, leading to prolonged drought with the attendant food shortages for both man and beast.

The majority of Kenyans are small-scale farmers living in pathetic conditions in rural areas. It is important that their standard of living is improved for them not to engage in environmentally destructive activities.

We still have a chance to reverse our deforestation course. Recommitment to the national tree planting across the country is a starting point.