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State to spend Sh1.5b in restoring Mt Kenya

NEWS
By Lydiah Nyawira | March 8th 2021
A section of people who participated in planting 20, 000 indigenous tree seedlings in Mt Kenya forest in Kithoka, Meru, on Thursday. The effort to reclaim over 14, 000 hectares is led by Mt Kenya Trust, Kenya Forestry Service and Kenya Tea Development Agency. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

A five-year plan to implement the restoration of Mt Kenya forest in four counties has kicked off in Nyeri County.

The Mount Kenya Forest Restoration Strategy 2019-2029, was developed by Nature Kenya and Kenya Forest Services (KFS).

The strategy is focused on restoring 6,170 hectares of the Mt Kenya Forest, and will require at least Sh1.5 billion over period of five years.

County executive for Environment Frederick Kinyua said the plan to restore Mt Kenya’s forest cover is a collaboration between stakeholders such as Nature Kenya, Kenya Forest Service and counties surrounding.

Nature Kenya Project Manager Paul Gacheru said the agency is encouraging water bottling companies and energy generation companies to join in and take part in forest conservation efforts.

According to the report, the economic importance of Mt Kenya Forest as a water catchment area and one of the five main water towers in Kenya has been overlooked.

“The economic value of the Mt Kenya Forest was in 2018 at Sh22 billion. This was arrived at just by assessing the contribution the natural resource provided in form of timber, water, tourism and energy generation,” he noted.

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During the launch of the strategy, Gacheru said the focus was to inform the public and private sector on cost and opportunities available in the restoration of the forest.

“We want private companies to understand that forest degradation costs them money in so many ways,” he noted.

With this in mind, the private firms and tourism sector players who rely on its resources can invest in the restoration project by taking part by planting trees.

“This plan gives a framework on fundraising towards tree planting activities with companies and Community Forest Associations (CFAs). We would like to encourage firms already taking part in the restoration initiatives to continue,” he added. 

Muriuki Ngatia, the chairperson of the Nyeri CFAs, said they welcomed the strategy adding that they have been working with the county government and KFS to conserve forest cover.

“The rivers provide us with water for commercial and domestic use, the forests also contribute to mitigate the effects of climate change,” he noted.

Spanning five counties in Central Kenya, the forest covers an area of 213,082 hectares. 

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