Energy Ministry to rehabilitate Kipsigis forest

The Tulwap Kipsigis hill in Londiani is a sacred site for members of the Kipsigis community. [File, Standard]

The Energy Ministry has adopted the Tulwap Kipsigis forest which is earmarked for rehabilitation.

The forest which is part of the larger Londiani forest, located in Kipkelion constituency has deep traditional significance to the Kalenjin community.

It is a key site used by the community for the annual male circumcision rite.

After years of degradation, the Energy Ministry plans to plant more than 900,000 tree seedlings in the forest.

Already, the ministry has planted 25,000 indigenous tree seedlings at the site.

Energy Cabinet Secretary Davis Chirchir explained that by planting trees, they are not merely laying down roots in the soil but also laying the groundwork for sustainable energy in the country.

“Trees are crucial to our Ministry because they are the lungs of our planet, and here, they play a direct role in generating electricity. The rivers fueled by these forests power our hydroelectric plants at Sondu Miriu and Gogo downstream," he said.

The CS said the rehabilitation of the forest and initiating woodlots on farms around the forest's location couldn't have come at a better time, and they are committed to rehabilitating the forest for the next nine years.

“We've planted local tree seedlings across 15 hectares of this forest. Our goal is clear, to restore all the worn-out areas of Londiani forest,” said Chirchir.

He noted that the Ministry and state corporations under it, Nuclear Power and Energy Agency, Kenya Electricity Transmission Company, National Oil Corporation of Kenya, and Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation, jointly contributed 25,000 indigenous tree seedlings planted in the forest in Phase I of the programme, also supported by the Kenya Forest Service (KFS).

“My Ministry and the other State corporations under it are participating in a similar exercise in Koibatek and Natasha forests in Baringo county in partnership with the KFS. In total, we have planted 147,000 seedlings in the three sites,” said Chirchir.

To support farmers in establishing woodlots on their farms, the CS said they will give them tree seedlings.

“Additionally, we’re working closely with the Kenya Forest Service, whose officers are on the ground to offer members of the local community guidance and expert advice on the best types of trees for specific environments. This will ensure that the trees they plant will grow well and meet their needs,” said Chirchir.

To ensure that residents living around the forest participate in the tree planting in the forest, the CS told the residents that for every eight indigenous or exotic trees they plant, they will be rewarded with two fruit trees.

“Out of the 900,000 tree seedlings to be planted at the forest, 20,000 will be fruit trees, which will be distributed to the local communities," said Chirchir.

He said he will supervise the planting of the trees at least once a month, while other senior Ministry of Energy officials would be at the site weekly planting the trees.

Chirchir urged the KFS to ensure that all the trees planted at the forest grow to maturity by cracking down on residents who illegally drive their animals to the forest to graze.

Kericho Ecosystem Conservator John Kidogo said that they have managed, through the Imarisha Misitu programme, to reduce by 70 per cent the number of cattle that used to be driven into Londiani and Soget forest station.

"We are now grappling with cattle owners who play hide-and-seek games with Kenya Forest Service officers by driving the animals to graze in the forest at night. We are nonetheless determined to stamp out the vice," he said.