State agencies boost tree seed nurturing to increase forest cover

Environment Principal Secretary Dr Chris Kiptoo (left), and other officials look on as Olympic Marathon Champion Eliud Kipchoge plants a tree seedling during the launch of reforestation Kaptagat Forest in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya I Nation Media Group

The government has launched another ambitious plan to achieve 10 percent forest cover after missing the 2022 target.

A report released in May 2022 showed that Kenya’s forest cover had increased to 8.8 percent, up from 6.99 percent in 2010 and 7.2 percent in 2015.

The government has now embarked on tree seed nurturing through partnerships with regional development authorities to produce over two billion tree seedlings by the end of 2022.

Environment and Forestry Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo said the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (Kefri) has over 300 metric tonnes of assorted certified tree seeds that will be distributed to several government agencies for nurturing.

“The strategy is to capacity-build Kefri by increasing seedling bulking centres and [providing] the already stored certified seed to stakeholders that have partnered with the government in the Kenya greening project,” Dr Kiptoo explained.

“The greening Kenya project is aimed at increasing the country’s forest cover from the current seven percent to 10 percent of the land mass by 2030.”

He said the objective is to increase Kefri’s seed centres from the current one stationed at Muguga to 18 nationally and that will translate to increased seed capacity to 300 metric tonnes annually.

Correctional facilities

“With this new approach, we are certain we shall accelerate our restoration of degraded areas in gazetted forests, wetlands as well as mangrove ecosystems and green spaces in towns. We shall also rope in the services of correctional facilities,” he said.

Dr Kiptoo spoke in Eldoret on Saturday when he commissioned the distribution of certified tree seeds from Kefri to six regional development agencies at the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) nursery. Kefri also signed a memorandum of understanding with the regional agencies.

KVDA received an assortment of tree seeds to be nurtured in several of its nurseries before they are distributed for planting across the region.

Dr Kiptoo, with Regional Development and Northern Corridor Development PS Belio Kipsang, announced that his ministry would partner with various stakeholders from the private and public sectors to raise two billion tree seedlings annually.

“We hope both the public and the private sector will each produce one million tree seedlings, and we ask partners to support the initiative,” he said.

Tree nurseries

“We encourage the private sector, youth and women’s groups, as well as community forest associations, to have registered tree nurseries where we can buy seedlings from them.”

He said 4,800 schools have been identified to partner with in the initiative, which includes technical and vocational schools and other public institutions of higher learning.

For his part, Dr Kipsang said his ministry would ensure the trees are nurtured well to achieve the intended target.

KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos lauded the Ministry of Environment for facilitating Kefri to increase its capacity to produce more certified tree seeds.

“As KVDA, we are now in a position to produce up to 20 million tree seedlings from the current two million annually from the 10 tree nurseries we have across the eight counties of Northern Kenya because of the boost of certified seed from Kefri,” Mr Naporos said.

Past efforts to produce more tree seedlings, he said, had been hampered by lack of certified seeds but production would now increase after they received the seeds.

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