In a bold reforestation effort, Kenya declares a national holiday dedicated to tree planting, aiming to combat climate change.
In an unprecedented move to combat deforestation and climate change, the Kenyan government has declared a “special holiday” dedicated to nationwide tree planting. This initiative, announced by Kithure Kindiki, cabinet secretary for the Interior and Administration of National Government, marks a significant step in the country's land restoration efforts.
In a statement released on Monday, Kindiki emphasized the importance of public participation in this patriotic effort.
This tree planting holiday is part of the broader Kenya Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Programme, which ambitiously targets the growth and nurturing of 15 billion trees by 2032. This program aims to restore and conserve over 10.6 million hectares of degraded landscapes and ecosystems. To facilitate widespread participation, national and 47 county venues will be established for the tree planting activities.
Kenya's forest cover has experienced a dramatic decline, falling from 12% to 6% between 1990 and 2010, as reported by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
However, recent efforts have seen an increase to 9% in 2022, according to the Kenya Forest Service. Despite these gains, challenges persist with rising demands for timber and charcoal to meet the needs of infrastructure development and a growing population, leading to unsustainable harvesting practices.
Deforestation in Kenya not only threatens vital ecosystems but also exacerbates conflict, biodiversity loss, and the impacts of climate change, such as increased droughts and poor water management. This environmental crisis has led to notable incidents like the killing of ten lions in human-wildlife conflicts, worsened by the country's worst drought in over 40 years.
The Kenyan government's goal is to increase forest cover to 30%, a target aligned with the objectives of conserving biodiversity, sustaining livelihoods, improving climate resilience, and fostering socio-economic development, as outlined by the World Wildlife Fund.
During last month's Kenya Restoration Forum in Nairobi, Martin Mulama, manager of the Southern Kenya Programme at WWF Kenya, highlighted the critical role of communities in this initiative. “At the center of the ambitious 15 Billion Trees initiative are communities – the first-line custodians of our landscapes and ecosystems. They should be included, engaged, and involved in the implementation and benefit from the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration,” Mulama stated.
This national tree planting holiday represents a bold and innovative approach by the Kenyan government, not only in addressing the urgent issue of climate change but also in engaging its citizens directly in environmental stewardship.
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