Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Laikipia County embarks on planting 10 million trees annually

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia County Government led by Governor Joshua Irungu has embarked on an ambitious plan that will see 10 million trees planted annually in the county. The County targets to plant 40 million trees over a four-year period. The county government has earmarked April 25-29, 2016 as tree planting week across the 15 wards in Laikipia.
The culmination of the tree planting week will be the launch of the national tree planting day on May 4, 2016 at Nyambogichi Primary School in Ngobit Ward by Prof Judy Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Regional Development Authorities.
A nursery owner in Sipili, Laikipia West assessing her trees
The Laikipia County Development Authority (LCDA) is implementing the project in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Services (KFS), and Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) among other partners.
The Kenya constitution and economic blueprint Vision 2030 requires the country to work towards achieving a forest cover of at least 10 percent of the land area to ensure sustainable resource use, growth and employment creation.
According to Laikipia County Government, the County needs to plant an additional 38 million trees in order to reach the 10 percent target. The county data indicates that forestland stands at 6.9 percent of the County.
The County government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries has also been promoting farming of high value fruit trees in the County, which helps to increase tree cover. In addition, farmers are encouraged to practice agroforestry in order to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems.
Increased population, demand for fuel wood and building materials as well as other land uses in Laikipia County has led to massive deforestation as well as dwindling water resources. This has had an overwhelming impact as indigenous forest cover within the forest reserves of South –West Laikipia (Marmanet, Lariak, Ol Arabel, Rumuruti, and Uaso Narok) has reduced considerably.
Trees are important in providing oxygen, improving air quality, conserving water, preserving soil, supporting wildlife, creating green jobs, and increasing capacity for climate change resilience and mitigation.
Indiscriminate cutting down of trees has contributed to climate change. This has had a direct impact on forest resources and ecosystems. Planting more trees through forest restoration and agroforestry can help restore healthy and productive ecosystems and landscapes as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation.
According to the Kenya Forest Service, restoration of 5.1 million hectares of forests in the Country is already underway. This follows a commitment by the Kenyan Government through the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Regional Development Authorities.

Forests rank high as some of the most important national assets in terms of economic, environmental, social, and cultural values.  The forest sector contributes nearly Kshs 7 billion to the economy and employs over 50,000 people directly and other 300,000 indirectly.
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