Road to 15 billion trees: President Ruto leads nation in tree planting drive

 William Ruto

President William Ruto (right) and Finance PS Chris Kiptoo during Kaptagat Forest annual tree planting campaign in Elgeyo Marakwet on July 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto is expected to lead a nationwide tree planting campaign today in Makindu, Makueni County as part of a lofty plan to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki announced last week that today has been declared a public holiday for Kenyans to plant trees.

“The President will be in Makindu, Makueni at 11am on Monday (today) to lead the country in tree planting,” the Press Secretary Presidential Communications Service, Mr Emmanuel Talam, told the Nation yesterday.

Governors and Cabinet secretaries will spearhead the drive in various counties in a bid to boost Kenya’s Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Programme that aims to meet the target of growing 15 billion trees by 2032.

The tree seedlings which will be planted today have already been distributed. Chiefs in all the 47 counties have been instructed to mobilise their community members, coordinate the distribution of the tree seedlings and oversee their planting.

“We encourage members of the public to visit their nearest chief’s office to acquire the tree seedlings. This nationwide tree growing campaign is not only about planting trees, but is also focused on taking good care of them to maturity. We call on the public to actively participate in nurturing the planted trees and taking ownership of national day to ensure long-term benefits for our environment,” said Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo.

At the same time, the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) said in a statement that a minimum of 10,000 tree seedlings will be planted in each of the selected county launch sites to be presided over by Cabinet secretaries and governors.

Members of the public have been urged to plant at least two trees each today. More tree seedlings can be obtained at the KFS forest stations and nearby tree nurseries. Kenyans can also buy tree seedlings from nurseries operated by Community Forest Associations, Timber Manufacturers Associations and other government institutions as well as private tree nurseries.

“We call upon all Kenyans to take advantage of the public holiday and plant at least two trees each. The public is encouraged to record and upload all trees planted on the JazaMiti App to enable the government track the total number of trees grown,” read the statement in part.

KFS has also urged corporate organisations, non-governmental organisations, farmers and individuals to participate in ‘adopt-a-forest’ framework, which allows partners to adopt a degraded forest area, plant and maintain trees for at least three years.

“Members of the public are hereby advised to make plans for securing and protecting the tree seedlings that they will grow to ensure a high survival rate. This includes provision for watering during periods of soil moisture scarcity. Tree growing will continue throughout the rainy season. Let’s use this period of enhanced rains to grow as many trees as possible.”

Meanwhile, Green Africa Foundation has appealed to Kenyans to plant trees equal to their ages in line with the “Plant Your Age Initiative” that seeks to grow more trees in honour of renowned conservationist and Nobel Peace Laureate, the late Professor Wangari Mathai’.

The foundation’s chief executive officer, Isaac Kalua, said the drive is a timely response to bolstering climate resilience, and ensuring national security. Green Africa has designated land in Nduu Ndune village, Kitui County where the trees will be planted.