By Peter Orengo and Josephat Siror
A day after Prime Minister Raila Odinga led envoys in tree planting in the Mau; Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura took 35 Permanent Secretaries and head of parastatal for a similar exercise in Karura Forest.
This follows the announcement on Thursday evening by ‘Friends of Karura’ to fence off the 2000-hectare city forest, and turn it into a recreational facility.
The launch was attended by the PM and several envoys led by US Ambassador Michael Ranneberger and Rob Macaire of the UK. Wife of the British envoy Alice Macaire is the patron of the ‘Friend of Karura’.
A Sh8.5 million electric fencing project, which is sponsored by the East Africa Breweries, is under way. Macaire said the electric fence would improve the security of the forest before it is turned into a recreational centre.
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"Scouts who will man the forest have been recruited and are being trained by the British Army," announced the UK envoy.
The PM announced the end of forest grabbing and asked residents of Nairobi to be more vigilant in preserving the remaining sections of Karura and Ngong forests.
"Nairobi was once known as the green city in the sun but previous Governments looked on as the high and the mighty apportioned themselves big chunks of land and forests. We are determined to reverse this and make sure it does not happen again," said Raila.
Target on tree cover
On Friday, Muthaura asked Kenyans to donate 10 per cent of their land for tree planting and announced the exercise will be extended to Government land and premises.
"To realise the 10 per cent tree cover, we will have to go beyond what we have started. That is why we will put 10 per cent of Government land under tree cover," said the Head of Public Service.
Area MP Fred Gumo asked Kenyans to abandon the culture of land owning and gave the example of Indians who are wealthy and yet they do not own land.
"Today we have land clashes because of greed. It is not a must that everyone owns land. You can still be wealthy if you concentrated in other businesses that do not involve land," Gumo said.
Al Kags, a board member of the ‘Friends of Karura’ said his group was determined to make Karura a success story.
Other partners in the project include the Barclays Bank of Kenya, MP Shah Hospital and the UN Habitat.
Meanwhile, Forestry Minister Noah Wekesa has appealed to donors to support conservation. Dr Wekesa said the country stands to lose its economic basket due to continued depletion of forests and degradation of environment.
He said fragile economic resources were threatened by human activities due to the rising demand for natural resources. "The forest cover has disappeared over the years and we need to join hands with other partners in mitigating the effects of climate change," said Wekesa.
Wekesa spoke in Nairobi during the launch of two reports on the status of water levels flowing into Mara River and the impacts to biodiversity.