Bungoma targets to plant 19.3 million trees every year as climate change mitigation measure

Bungoma targets to plant 19.3 million trees every year as climate change mitigation measure

By Tony Wafula

Bungoma County Forest Conservator, Erick Abungu has revealed that Bungoma targets to plant 19.3 million trees in Mt Elgon ecosystem, institutions and people’s homesteads as a move to mitigate climate change effects in the region.

He also stated that 30 percent of the 15 Billion trees planted in President William Ruto’s drive should be fruit trees.

The head of state is leading the tree planting exercise to ensure that by 2032, Kenya would have attained 15 billion trees target. He cited avocado fruit that has high export demand and boosts human health.

The County conservator spoke on Thursday at Nzoia sugar company grounds during a corporate trees planting exercise that was led by the company board chairperson Alfred Khang’ati.

Abungu, however, added that as Kenyans plant trees he highlights the need to incorporate fruit trees noting that fruits play a pivotal role in improving the livelihoods and the health of people.

Additionally, Abungu revealed that Bungoma has a target of 19.3 million trees that should be planted every year.

“Currently in our tree nurseries we have 4. 2 million seedlings, I would urge Bungoma residents to visit any Kenya Forest Service (KFS), group and individual tree nurseries so that you are able to pick seedlings to plant,” he said.

He affirmed that the seedlings are offered at subsidized prices at all Kenya Forest Service (KFS) tree nurseries. Abungu added that the Kenya Forest Service mandate is the protection, conservation and sustainable management of the ecosystems.

 He further reported that the current tree cover in Bungoma County is 22.04 percent adding that they target to raise tree cover to 30 percent by 2032.

“Therefore it is your and my responsibility to ensure that we raise the total number of trees within our county so that we attain the 30 percent tree cover,” he said.

Nzoia sugar company board chairperson Alfred Khang’ati, in his address, rallied Nzoia staff and locals to support the company achieve its target to plant 50,000 tree seedlings this financial year.

“Nzoia as a company our target is 50,000 trees this financial year which will be ending 30th June,” said the company’s Finance manager Peter Simiyu.

Additionally, Simiyu revealed that previously, 20,000 trees had been planted at the company and during the corporate tree planting they planted 18,000 trees.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) currently residing at Nzoia sugar premises in preparation for the Madaraka day celebrations at Masinde Muliro stadium joined the tree planting exercise at the company premises and planted 3,000 trees.

Elsewhere, Youths for Green Action Kenya (YGAK) umbrella in partnership with Masinde Muliro University (MMUST) this week planted 200, 000 tree seedlings at Kaberwa forest in a move to conserve the ecosystems.

A section Youths for Green Action Kenya (YGAK) organization participating in a tree planting exercise at Kaberwa forest, Mt Elgon.

Environmental experts underscored the need to have trees planted in the Mt Elgon ecosystem.

Teddy Ouma, Marketing and Dissemination Officer, Youths for Green Action Kenya (YGAK) organization, noted that the youths took the initiative to plant tree seedlings at Kaberwa forest to conserve the degraded ecosystem to help the forest come to its original position.

He says that climate change effects have hit everybody asserting the concerted efforts to deal with the global crisis.

“As a group we have done the same tree planting activities in different parts of the country; Kakamega, Narok, Kisumu, Mombasa and other areas in the country to ensure that the degraded ecosystems are taken care of,” he noted.

Additionally, Ouma pointed out that the youth-led organization, YGAK picked on Kaberwa forest in Mt Elgon because of its current degraded state.

“We have walked through this Kaberwa forest and I can attest that it is the most degraded ecosystem due to human activities, we want to ensure that we restore its lost glory,” he added.

He pointed out that the negative impact of deforestation has led to the drying of streams, rivers and dams in the region.

He affirmed that they are determined to help the government achieve its target of planting 15 billion trees within five years noting that their organization’s goal is to ensure that they plant 1 billion trees for a greener future.

Godfrey Opana, Kaberwa forest station manager applauded the youth’s group for choosing to plant trees in the forest stating that the initiative is an extension of the president’s directive of making the country greener.

Kaberwa forest station manager
Godfrey Opana, Kaberwa forest station manager addressing the media at Kaberwa forest after a tree planting exercise.

“Tree planting is supposed to continue in the next six months today is just a continuation of what happened on Friday,” Opana stated.

In addition, the forest officer says that after planting the 200,000 tree seedlings, the community will be assigned and given a mandate to take care of the trees where they will be allocated plots to cultivate as they take care of the seedlings.

The officer admitted that the Kaberwa forest is degraded revealing that the forest has a backlog of 1,200 hectares which is degraded, affirming that with planting 200,000 tree seedlings implies that we shall be subtracting almost 125 hectares from the 1,200 hectares that is degraded.

“This youths’ move is a plus to us a station because this year we have a target of planting 330 hectares within a period of three years, but the coming to this project will really help the station in achieving its planting programme,” he said.

To ensure that the planted trees grow, the officer confirmed that the station will allocate plots to the farmers where each community member will get half an acre after paying the due fees.

“The community will also benefit being that we also practice the vision of the president which is providing food security and at the same time they will be protecting the forest,” he said.

Dr. Collins Matemba, the registrar of Planning, Pesearch and Innovation, at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST), argues that tree planting is one of the options to mitigate climate change effects stating that it is an exercise that will help the area get restored.

“MMUST is partnering with other non-governmental organizations to plant trees in the region,” Dr. Matemba said.

The registrar also stated that at the start of the financial year, the institution had been given a target by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) of planting 28,400 seedlings.

“KFS has allocated Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology 100 acres of land in Mt Elgon to plant tree seedlings,” Matemba added.

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