Top Stories / National
Monday, 03 Jul 2017 12:57 EATbmulu@kenyafreepress.com
First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has underscored the launch of National Tree Planning and Forest Conservation contest in 2013 which is aimed at accelerating 10 per cent forest cover threshold in Kenya on or before 2030 as stipulated by the constitution and Kenya Vision 2030. Mrs Kenyatta said the contest is organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources.
“The contest aimed at encouraging the public and private institutions, organised community groups and individuals to participate in the tree planting and forest conservation activities in the country,” Mrs Kenyatta said.
She was speaking during the presentation of awards to the Kitui County government for tree planting and forest conservation held on Friday, June 23, 2017 at the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) headquarters at Karura in Nairobi where she was the chief guest.
“The call for applications in all the Kenya’s 47 counties was initiated in May, 2016. The state department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Kenya Forest Service commissioned an independent survey in September, 2016 to evaluate current national forest cover against tree growing and forest conservation activities carried out by the public and private institutions, organized community groups and individuals to participate in the tree planting and forest conservation activities,” said Mrs Kenyatta, adding that this was to verify the level of achievement of the set national target of 10 per cent forest cover.
The First Lady said that the information and data on the said tree planting and forest conservation was coordinated by the Kenya Forest Service headquarters. The winners were selected through a process that was carried out by a panel of independent judges drawn from various institutions affiliated to the environment and natural resources sector that included the technical personnel drawn from the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), State Department of Agriculture, East African Wildlife Society and Net Fund.
Mrs Kenyatta congratulated the Kitui County government for developing appropriate policies and legislation on sustainable environmental conservation aimed at increasing forest cover in the county. She was accompanied by the Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Professor Judi Wakhungu, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Margaret Mwakima and KFS Chief Conservator of Forest, Emilio N.Mugo.
Potential applicants were further vetted by another national independent committee and the analysis was sent to the Kenya Forest Service headquarters for concurrence. In February 2017, there was field verification visits and ground verification. All the information was later verified by aerial surveys which involved use of the latest technologies including remote sensing and satellite wall mapping.
The Kitui County government emerged the winner nationally as a result of the improved environmental conservation and also the increased forest cover which has increased from the previous 4.7 per cent in 2013 to 7.08 per cent currently 2017.
According to Kitui County Environment, Energy and Minerals Investment Minister George Mutuku Mulatya, this was achieved as a result of various mechanisms put in place to mitigate and cope against the projected adverse impact of climate change which included the tree planting programme in the county that resulted in the planting of 943,361 tree seedlings at a cost of Sh28.3 million.
He said the ministry has achieved this tremendous achievement through working in collaboration with a local umbrella community group known as the Community Voluntary Development Network Association (CVDNA).
The CVDNA is composed by a total of the 6,446 organised community groups with an estimated 128,920 members categorised into 40 clusters one per ward across the county. The minister said that working with the development partners in the county has piloted community transformational climate change adaptation projects whereby 14 projects have been implemented in 12 of the county’s 40 wards.
“The Kitui County Climate Change Fund regulations have been developed. Partners in this initiative are the ADA Consortium, Anglican Development Services Eastern (ADSE), Caritas and Kitui Development Centre among others,” Mulatya said.
He said that the Kitui County government has enacted the Kitui County Charcoal Management Act of 2014 to regulate the charcoal production, transportation and promote environmental conservation. He added that his ministry has also spearheaded the formation of the charcoal producers groups (CPGs) and charcoal producers associations (CPAs) and mobilising them carry out the rehabilitation of areas where they harvest trees for charcoal production.
Mr Mulatya also said the County government has established strong partnership, linkages and networking on matters concerning the environmental conservation and management. “Some of these linkages are with the national government institutions such as the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Forestry Research Institute and National Environment Management Authority (NEMA),” the minister said.
He said the development partners who have supported the environmental conservation work in Kitui County are the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and most recently the African Development Bank. “Other partners who have shown interest to support sustainable environmental conservation activities in Kitui County are the World Bank (WB), Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Global Environment Facility (GCF) among others,” Mr Mulatya added. The minister was accompanied by his Chief Officer, Dr. Muusya Mwinzi and Kitui County Environment Assistant Director Dominic Mutisya Mumbu.
In the ratings, Kitui County is followed by Laikipia County and Makueni County. Other organisations and institutions awarded from Kitui County during the function were the Kyatune Boys Secondary School, Musekavo Community Forest Association and Africa Woodgrow Company Limited. At the national level, a total of 45,140 applications were received and only 59 were awarded. The total forest cover nationally has increased from 6.9 per cent in 2010 to currently 7.4 per cent and more than 800 hectares of forests have been gazetted.
The partners of the Kenya Forest Service are the European Union (EU), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Germany, Finland, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), African Development Bank and World Bank. More than 70 per cent of the Kenyan population depend on fuel wood as source of energy and there is usually 12 million cubic metres of wood deficit in the country.
Boniface is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Kitui County