It is very satisfying to—literally—embrace a tree you planted, monitored its growth from the day its roots touched the soil and while its little branches sprouted as the sapling began to shoot towards the sky.
It is this nice feeling I had denied myself for a while—until a few years ago, when I refocused on planting trees.
Seeing them put up a fight against the range of niggling vicissitudes determined to hamper their growth, like grazing livestock, has not only instilled a sense of responsibility in me to care for them but lit the fire within to plant more.
Trees have this ability to effuse a natural aura that makes any ecosystem complete and attractive to interact with. In the flora and fauna world, trees are like the spine that holds everything together and in perfect order.
I vividly remember the flock of hornbills that had made a home on the bushy branches of indigenous trees near our home in the mid 1990s, when I was in primary school.
We enjoyed their fervent calls, especially in the cold evenings, and even entertained the childish mischief of throwing stones at them to scatter them.
Interestingly, they stayed put, and for many years. Owls and bats had bases here, safely tucked in the trees.
Sadly, once the trees were cut in the early 2000s to make room for houses and farms, the birds left. Now, the millennial generations would have to travel far and wide just to see these rare birds. I call upon my fellow millennials to invest more in planting trees, hoping the birds will return.
Kenya is home to at least 10 billion trees forming a forest cover of 12 per cent of its surface area. The Ruto administration has set an ambitious but achievable target of planting 15 billion trees by 2032.
With this, the nation’s forest cover will significantly increase from 12 per cent to 30 per cent, enabling the country to join the league of nations with notable forest cover.
With its smaller land mass compared to the bigger more developed countries, that will still be a significant contribution by Kenya to forest cover and the battle against climate change.
Countries like Russia, with the most trees at 642 billion, Canada with 318 billion, Brazil (302 billion), the United States (228 billion) and China (140 billion), will still have a bigger say in any debate on trees. But Kenya will enjoy an elevated position in the tree conversation for its significantly high forest cover-to-arable land ratio.
With Congo Forest, DRC has a 56 per cent forest cover, Africa’s highest, at just over 100 billion trees. Tanzania has 48 million hectares of trees.
The recent National Tree Planting Day, which targeted 100 million trees, not only raised the nation’s psyche but also affirmed Kenyans’ raw interest in supporting the noble cause. The enviable determination and focus must continue.
- Mr Kiplang’at is a communications specialist. [email protected].