15 April 2013

Kenya Can Attain UN Forest Cover Quota

Nairobi Kenya — The Green Belt Movement says Kenya can meet the United Nations requirement of 10 percent forest cover even before the set deadline of 2030, through concerted efforts from the government, corporate organisations and individuals.

Executive director Pauline Kamau said an initiative where the private sector funds tree planting and the movement nurtures them for a period of three years before handing them over to the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) has seen Kenya gradually reverse deforestation in the five water towers of Mt Kenya, the Aberdare Range, the Mau Complex, Mt Elgon and Cherangany Hills.

"Collaboration has seen us achieve an average survival rate of up to 70 percent of trees planted in most areas," she said during a Postal Corporation of Kenya tree planting initiative in Ngong Forest.

PCK chairman Cyrus Maina said the 1,200 trees planted in Ngong Forest were part of a broader commitment to the country's afforestation that has seen the State corporation plant trees in Nandi Hills, Karura Forest, Kacheliba and at Multimedia University among other areas.

"We believe we have a resourceful partner in the Green Belt Movement owing to the organisation's achievements in afforestation and environmental conservations," said Enock Kinara, the Postmaster General.

"Though as Posta we unveiled a commemorative stamp in September last year in honour of Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai, we believe it is our duty to entrench her legacy through substantive actions aimed at preserving our environment for the posterity," Kinara added.

A KFS representative said besides a punitive minimum fine of Sh50,000 for cutting a tree illegally, KFS has made communities living near forests key stakeholders and beneficiaries.

"We use communities living around these forests as labour during weeding and planting trees so that they can own the forest conservation efforts. We are also developing honey clubs and ecotourism where they generate income through the former and act as tour guides for the later," KFS revealed.

According to the World Rainforest Movement, Kenya's forests had been rapidly declining due to pressure from increased population, fuel wood, building material and other land uses. A huge section of Kenya is arid and semi-arid. This puts huge a huge strain on the rest of the land since the economy is natural resource based.

FAO's Forest Resource Assessment of 1990 classifies Kenya among the countries with low forest cover of less than two percent of the total land area. The dwindling forest cover has a severe effect on climate, wildlife, streams and human population - especially forest dwellers.

"However, a recent survey by KFS says Kenya's forest cover is higher than previously estimated after it conducted a mapping using the latest technology, remote sensing, putting the figure of the forest cover at 6.6 percent and not less than two percent as had been previously estimated," the statement sent to Newsrooms indicated.

"Experts now believe the country is more likely to reach 10 per cent forest cover required by the United Nations by 2030."

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