Gov’t targets 2 billion trees by 2022, more green jobs for youth

Gov't targets 2 billion trees by 2022, more green jobs for youth
Kaptagat Forest in Elgeyo-Marakwet County. The 5th Edition of Annual Kaptagat Tree Planting drive to be held here on July 23, 2021. PHOTO| COURTESY

Local farmers working hand in hand with Kenya Forest Service (KFS) foresters have planted 65,490 tree seedlings since Monday, July 19, in readiness for today’s 5th Edition of Annual Kaptagat Tree Planting drive.

Led by the North Rift Conservancy Head of Conservancy, Anthony Musyoka, managers in the five Kaptagat Forest blocks supervised the transportation of thousands of seedlings to planting sites in Kaptagat, Sabor, Kessup, Kipkabus and Penon.

“Progress is impossible without change and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything, and Kaptagat needs more willing partners for this change to be realised,” said Musyoka.

When the nearly 319,000 assorted indigenous tree seedlings for this year’s event will have been planted, the programme now in its fifth year, will have realised the planting of more half a million assorted indigenous seedlings at Kaptagat forest, the North Rift Conservancy boss said.

“We seek to strengthen partnerships in the conservation of the Kaptagat Ecosystem,” said the conservation expert.

The restoration effort is part of the national government’s ambitious campaign to plant about 2 billion seedlings by 2022.

To achieve this goal, the Environment Principal Secretary (PS), Dr Chris Kiptoo, said that the Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) has been mass producing seeds and seedlings.

Further, Environment PS Kiptoo has also been pushing hard for Community Forest Associations to form linkages with supporting partners for more youth to be involved in the establishment and management of tree nurseries.

“We want to see more young people employed to take care of our forests. The best way to achieve the target that we want is to encourage commercial production of seeds, and seedlings, which is why we would like Community Forest Associations, which are recognized under the Forest Conservation Act, to venture into tree seedlings production to ensure that we manage our forests,” said PS Kiptoo.

The Environment PS said that the ministry embarked on the registration and certification, through Kenya Forest Research Institute, of all nurseries to facilitate a transparent framework for ease of engagement with potential partners investing in livelihood improvement programmes for youth.

“If we have youth being encouraged to produce 1 million seedlings in each of the forest blocks which are here in Kaptagat, at the end of the year they will earn 30 million shillings. One indigenous tree seedling is being sold at 30 shillings. We require about 5 million shillings to do 1 million seedlings until they are ready to be grown. They will make 25 million shillings. Which is a huge amount. In fact, you don’t do any business that is as attractive as that,” added Dr. Kiptoo.

For the viability of the initiative to push for youth involvement in commercial greening ventures, the Environment ministry is enlisting support from potential partners.

“We have asked Kenya Forest Research Institute to register and certify all nurseries so that if we ask any potential partners to support, they are supporting a certified nursery, whose location is known and the type of tree species. I am very confident as a PS that this is one way of encouraging our country to meet the 10% forest cover. ” Dr Chris Environment PS, Environment and Forestry

For the 2021 edition of Kaptagat tree-planting drive, stakeholders will participate in the restoration of 225 hectares of forest in the five blocks with a focus on degraded riparian and catchment areas.

Of the 319,000 assorted indigenous seedlings sourced for planting from local and institutional nurseries, 310, 000 are indigenous, 6,480 bamboo and 2,200 fruit tree seedlings.

WWF-Kenya, which is one of the leading conservation organizations in the country has contributed 110,290 assorted indigenous tree seedlings and 3,090 bamboo seedlings for Ksh4,159,700.

“Kaptagat is known world over as one of the best high-altitude training grounds for our athletes and those from other countries. What better time to plant and restore the tree cover of this important ecosystem as our athletes who train here head to Tokyo for the Olympics. What better platform to call upon our leaders to finance Nature-based Solutions and for climate action as a country, as we gear up for The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), later this year,” said Mohamed Awer, Chief Executive Officer, WWF-Kenya.

WWF-Kenya CEO Mohamed Awer (left) joins community members in a tree planting drive in Chepkorio, Kaptagat Forest block, during the 5th Kaptagat annual tree event on Friday, July 23, 2021.

He added: “As the voices of climate action, let us use these platforms and this window of opportunity to address this global but local challenge. We are the voices of nature, if we remain silent, future generations will blame us for leaving them an inhospitable planet. By adapting and mitigating climate change through nature-based solutions fueled by nature-based enterprises we stand a chance to secure our livelihoods, businesses, communities, and nature.”

To crown the week-long tree-planting drive, a cycling race will be held on Sunday, July 25 in Eldoret featuring professional and amateur cyclists.

The race is part of a twin campaign for the conservation of forests and advocacy calling for the adoption of Non-Motorised Transport systems in Kenya to ensure dedicated lanes for cyclists and pedestrians.

Dubbed #Cycling4Forests and #MyLane2, the Ministry of Environment and WWF-Kenya led campaigns are aimed at mitigating climate change through afforestation and greening road infrastructure.

“Through the #MyLane2 platform, we call on the Kenyan people as right-holders to come together to advocate and call on policymakers to take action and prioritise NMT as a key enabler towards reducing our footprint through various interventions as outlined under various national, regional and international commitments,” says WWF-Kenya on their website campaign page.

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