Baraka Kerich, Chief Finance Officer at Gertrude's Children's Hospital, Nyambura Muchemi and Dr.Thomas Ngwiri-Head Of Clinical Services during a tree planting event. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

While I was growing up in a village in Kisumu County cases of 'flying roofs' during rainy seasons were not news.

Imagine being in a classroom as a pupil, feeling safe with a roof over your head, then suddenly it is blown... away.

This also happened in homes in the semi-arid area where sisal and euphorbia tirucalli characterised most fences.

Acacia and some other trees grew on unused land, and formed part of livestock diet. It would flood when it rained, or dry so much that if a coin fell in the cracks on the ground, it would sink deeper with every effort to retrieve it.

Yet there were homes where trees grew, not on their own, but because families made effort.

It is also becoming evident that mangoes, papaws, oranges and lemons can do so well in that same area. For the few who have tried some exotic trees, it has been a worthy gamble.

But how do we work with everyone to increase tree cover? Every target person in the grassroots has to be enlightened on the many benefits of planting and growing trees to enable them voluntarily join in the efforts.

With this, if free tree seedlings are distributed in every home, courtesy of Environment ministries nationally and in the counties, there can be more public participation. There is always space for one more tree, even if it means along fences, and such people would nurture them with their own sourced water and monitor them when they are convinced it is for their own good.

Besides institutions such as schools, worship places or firms; and government initiatives such as the plan by government to plant 15 billion trees by 2032, individuals, especially those in the urban centres, can apply the tactics such as Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja, or President William Ruto's marking of certain milestones, including birthdays, by planting trees.

Even planting one tree for such occasions would make a difference in the effort to increase tree cover.

Having a tree in a compound may not be significant in this fast paced world where food, shelter and transport usually are priority. But there is more to trees than shade or fuel wood.

Historically, different cultures attach some connections to certain trees, sometimes even spiritual. The Agikuyu of Kenya, for instance, have a spiritual connection to 'Mugumo' (fig) tree.

This week, environmentalist Elizabeth Wathuti and company made lots of effort to forestall cutting of the tree to pave way for a railway line in Kiambu.

Trees are a major component of the Bible's creation story. They bore the fruits of life and that of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. Even after man sinned, Adam and Eve used twigs to cover their nakedness the moment their eyes began to see clearly.

They were later handed sheep skin to cover themselves. Other religions that have placed trees on high pedestals are Muslims, with the tree of immortality.

There is also the Assyrian Tree of Life, as well as the Bodhi Tree in Buddhism.

Helping people understand the importance of trees will boost tree cover, which stood at 12.5 per cent in mid-2022.

For it is not enough to plant trees, but to grow them to maturity so they can effectively suck CO2 from the atmosphere.

There is also need for capacity building on the kind of trees adaptive to specific areas' type of soil and climate. This will minimise wastage and encourage uptake, considering that seedlings go for as little as Sh10.

The writer is communications manager at GreenFaith. lynet@greenfaith.org