The role of forests in climate change mitigation cannot be gainsaid considering the benefits to local communities, Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has said.
He noted that the connection between forestry and climate change is critical to forest dependent communities who continually adapt new conditions caused by the phenomenon to derive their livelihoods.
“Rains are no longer predictable as they used to be,that is why rivers are drying up, the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the Mara river ecosystem is threatened because we have denigrated our forest reserves”. The CS said.
He observedthat there are 2.5 million hectares of gazzeted natural forest in Kenya out of which 140,000 hectares are degraded.
It takes Kenya Forest Service about one year to rehabilitate 5,000 hectares making it impossible for the government to achieve rehabilitation of forest reserves alone he added.
It is against this backdrop that the President issued a decree that the attainment of 10% National tree cover be accelerated by 2022 and subsequent directives that all Government Ministries, Departments and Parastatals/Agencies (MDAs) to commit 10% of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget to tree growing activities.
Kenya Prisons and National Youth Service have come together in a joint programme dubbed ‘Greening Kenya’ to grow 50 million tree seedlings to help meet the target. Other benefits to be accrued from this programme include mitigating climate change and raising environmental awareness, generating income for households and communities as well as attaining the constitutional requirement of 10% tree cover.
The CS spoke at a high level meeting with investors at a Nairobi hotel where a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment on the Greening Kenya Campaign. The government was represented by Cabinet Secretaries Keriako Tobiko (Environment) and Dr Fred Matiangi of and Interior while the UN Environment was represented by Ms Juliette Biao, Director and Regional Representative, UN Environment.
The campaign has so far received pledges worth about 4million from Communication Authority of Kenya, Energy Regulatory Authority and Philanthropist Manu Chandaria among others.