UN Environment and government of Kenya have joined hands for the launch of ‘Greening Kenya Campaign’, a campaign to grow trees in schools, universities, education centres, farmlands, and dryland.
The initiative is part of Kenya’s aim to plant 1.8 billion trees and achieve more than 10% forest cover in the country by 2022.
Kenya is one of the most biodiverse and ecologically rich lands in the world. Forest area in Kenya covered 10% of the country’s land in 1963 but dropped to roughly 2% now due to deforestation and resource degradation over the past few decades. An estimated 50 square kilometres of forest are lost each year and country’s timber resources have reduced by one-half due to overexploitation.
This loss of forest aggravates erosion, the silting of dams and flooding, and the loss of biodiversity. Among the endangered forests are Kakamega Forest, Mau Forest, and Karura Forest. Widespread poverty in many parts of the country has greatly lead to over-exploitation of the limited resources in Kenya. Cutting down of trees to create more land for cultivation, charcoal burning business, quarrying among other social and occupational practices are the major threats of environmental degradation due to poverty in rural Kenya.
“This launch could not have come at a more opportune time. The effects of climate change are real and we have experienced it with the droughts witnessed in Kenya” said Keriako Tobiko, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Environment. “We are doing this for ourselves, our country, our children and our children’s children.”
Kenya’s cabinet secretary for Interior Dr. Fred Matiang’i and cabinet secretary for Public Service, Youth, and Gender Affairs Prof. Margaret Kobia pledged to provide 50 million of the annual 500 million target tree seedlings and use their national mandates to mobilize their institutions into supporting the restoration efforts.
“Planting a tree is continuing a battle against the global challenge of climate change. We commend the initiative and vision behind it. With this campaign, Kenya lives up to the aspirations of its citizens to uphold a bond of unity between the forests and the people,” said Jorge Laguna-Celis UN Environment Director of Governance Affairs. “These actions, partnerships and joint coordination efforts of various ministries and national organs will definitely lead to reversing the adverse effects on our environment which we see manifested in drought, desertification, and flooding among other consequences.”