• Eucalyptus trees too close to rivers or swamps can each drink up to 80 litres of water per day
• The right species of indigenous trees can protect rivers and swamps even when they are close by
The Environment ministry is releasing new guidelines that will restrict planting of eucalyptus trees to at least 30 metres away from rivers and swamps. A eucalyptus tree can drink up to 80 litres per day in wet conditions and 20 litres in dry conditions. A plantation of 1,000 trees could suck 80,000 litres a day out of a swamp or river.
The ministry is right to keep eucalyptus at a distance from our rivers and swamps. But government should also move to rehabilitate riparian land where buildings have been demolished.
In Nairobi, government destroyed buildings too close to rivers in Westlands, Langata Road, Kileleshwa and elsewhere. But that land has just been left derelict without being regreened.
The right kind of indigenous trees protect river banks, reduce the risk of flooding by slowing down river flow, and increase water retention in the soil. Species like swamp palms, certain types of ficus, yellow acacias and others all flourish naturally beside rivers and swamps.
Besides protecting the environment, we can also create mini-forest parks by planting indigenous trees in ugly derelict areas where buildings have been demolished. This will beautify the city and provide residents with places to relax. Planting trees will also make it more difficult for unscrupulous developers to grab that land again in future.
Quote of the day: "We have always known that the change and the transformation that we seek are not instant coffee."
The Zimbabwean opposition leader died on February 14, 2018