Have you joined the #15 billion National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign yet?
Sponsored by UNDP
By Hon Soipan Tuya, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, and Ephantus Kimani, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Forestry
On March 21, the world marked the International Day of Forests with a theme that may have looked simple to many. However, “Forests and Health” – the theme – conveyed a powerful message by seeking to remind humanity of the often-forgotten close relationship between forests and health and wellness, both physiological and mental.
Fortunately, Kenyans are increasingly appreciating forests for their role in promoting health and well-being. Our country’s response to the UN-declared Decade of Ecosystems Restoration (2021-2030) has seen the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry leading the implementation of the #15 billion National Tree Growing and Restoration Campaign initiated by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya, Dr William Ruto. This activity is expected to be completed by the year 2032, and it is targeting to restore 10.6 million hectares of degraded lands. It is important for all Kenyans to join and support this cause, which has immense benefits to the well-being of all citizens.
Forests provide multiple benefits, including herbal medicine that is utilised by forest-adjacent communities, and by pharmaceutical companies as vital ingredients in the production processes. Numerous researches indicate that outbreaks of infectious diseases such as Ebola, SARS, Bird Flu, and Covid-19, have been caused by environmental breakdowns that facilitate movements of pathogens to humans.
To address the above, functional landscapes and ecosystems that provide for the need of every organism has been proposed. And thus, forests hold the key to not only managing outbreaks and pandemics, but also in new discoveries in medicine, enhancing health, and well-being amongst visitors to forests and adjacent communities.
Forests also regulate the planet’s temperature and help store carbon. In the last decade alone, terrestrial ecosystems absorbed about 30 percent of carbon emissions produced by human activities such as burning of fossil fuels. With land being increasingly under pressure due to deforestation, urbanisation, industrial development, agricultural expansion and unsustainable agricultural practices that are undermining its ability to sustain food production, maintain freshwater, and forest resources, as well as to regulate climate and air quality, it is exciting that environmental education is being rolled out in the new school curriculum in Kenya. This will teach school children the various aspects of the environment and encourage the conservation and growing of trees. Also, the 4K clubs are being revived to catalyse environmental consciousness among young learners and inculcate habits such as agroforestry and fruit tree farming. The Scout and Girl Guide movements are also doing some good work, especially regarding tree growing and other environmental programmes.
Forests regulate the planet’s temperature and help store carbon. In the last decade alone, terrestrial ecosystems absorbed about 30 percent of carbon emissions produced by human activities such as burning of fossil fuels.
During the March-April-May long rains season that has started, we encourage all Kenyans to take part in tree growing in all appropriate areas.
The Ministry is implementing an “Adopt-A-Forest” policy, which outlines the process and requirements to govern partnerships to attain the 15 billion trees target. Moreover, we have developed several strategies aimed at achieving the desired forest cover by 2030, in addition to meeting other forestry related international obligations such as the reduction of greenhouse gases by 32 percent relative to the business-as-usual scenario as captured in the updated Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) report.
Also, we have made great strides towards the realisation of the directive on tree growing, whereby more than 20 government ministries, departments and agencies have responded and are already working in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to support rehabilitation of degraded forest areas through the Adopt-A-Forest model.
County governments, civil society, and private sector players have taken cue and are supporting seedling production, tree growing, and forest development. Private sector organisations have also taken up the challenge and have been contributing to tree-growing initiatives.
Kudos to the United Nations for designating March 21 as the International Day of Forests, to bring international attention to these vital resources. We recognise all partners who have taken bold steps to support forestry programmes in Kenya, for instance, the Greening Kenya Initiative; Mainstreaming of Human Rights Based Conservation Approach in Forest Conservation; Protection and Management; and REDD+, among others. They are envisioned to help completely transform the forestry sector. The Ministry also appreciates FAO for catalysing, mobilising and building the capacity of communities in forest conservation and tree growing.
To mitigate and engage in effective planning, management, and deployment of resources through timely and informative data capture and reporting, the use of modern technologies and tools has been embraced.
The Ministry has developed the JazaMiti Application, a tool that will be used to monitor the number of trees an individual or institution has planted, each tree species, and where they have been planted. All Kenyans are encouraged to download the JazaMiti Application and help us keep track of the trees being planted.
We urge all stakeholders to take up tree growing on farms, schools, roadsides, parks, arboretums, and all other suitable locations. Our call to county governments is to commit to the tree-growing campaign as well as to provide budgetary allocations for the same in the County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs). For counties with a tree cover that is over 10 percent, strive to increase it further while conserving the existing cover.
The Ministry assures all stakeholders of support through the provision of appropriate tree seedlings, technical advice, and capacity building.
How Kenya Forest Service is mobilising stakeholders to join the 30 percent tree cover pursuit
By Job Chirchir, Board Chairman, Kenya Forest Service
The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) is on course to steering the nation towards the 30 percent national tree cover target by 2032 as directed by the Government. KFS will ensure proper service delivery and collaboration with all partners to ensure the achievement of this mandate.
One of our new approaches is the “Adopt-a-Forest” framework. To strengthen it, KFS will initiate a reward and recognition scheme whereby exemplary commitment to tree-growing will be recognised and rewarded. The award will celebrate well-performing corporate bodies, learning institutions, county governments, civil society, and individuals, among other categories.
As the long rains tree planting season begins, Kenyans should use the opportunity to also plant trees within their private pieces of land, or partner with nearby schools and other public and private institutions to engage in tree-growing initiatives. KFS staff will be at hand to offer technical support and advice to all.
For the country to achieve the 30 percent tree cover by 2032, each Kenyan is expected to grow approximately 30 trees per year. This translates to 300 trees per person in 10 years.
To motivate individuals, plans are underway to reward those who meet this target with Green Certificates of achievement. In the future, these Green Certificates could be used by the youth to support their job qualifications, because they will be indicators of responsible citizenship.
Moreover, by engaging more youths in tree-growing and establishment of tree nurseries to meet the national target, there will be the creation of green jobs, which will have a positive impact on community livelihoods. This is part of the drive to improve the resilience of communities to climate change.
We look forward to engaging and working with the respective stakeholders and partners in order to achieve this national goal.