NAIROBI, KENYA: Kenya requires Sh48 billion to implement the 10 per cent forest cover strategy by the year 2022.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry noted this while announcing the National Strategy for achieving and maintaining over ten per cent tree cover by 2022.
While the cost of implementation is estimated to be Sh48 billion, the estimated annual cost of inaction is Sh168 billion over the strategy implementation period.
President Uhuru Kenyatta last year affirmed his commitment by pledging to ensure the country achieves a minimum of 10 per cent forest cover by 2022. Kenya’s forest cover currently stands at seven per cent, this is considered low compared to other countries.
Acting Conservation Secretary, Alfred Gichu said to achieve this strategy, the demand gap for wood must first be bridged.
The demand for wood currently stands at 45 million cubic meters while the supply is 30 million cubic metres.
“The 15 million cubic metre gap must be met to achieve the 10 per cent forest cover,” Gichu said.
Counties that have achieved more than 20 per cent forest cover include Nyeri with 38 per cent - the highest so far, Elgeyo Marakwet with 37.5. Lamu has 34 per cent forest cover while Kericho has 24 per cent.
Counties with low forest cover include Migori with 0.64 per cent, Kisumu, 0.44 per cent and Siaya, 0.42 per cent.
Gichu said implementation of this strategy is expected to yield numerous economic benefits including the steering of the Big 4 Agenda.
“If the proposed interventions are not implemented, the consequences will manifest in the form of reduced supply of important products, droughts, and loss in ecological services,” said Gichu.
He added: “There is a lot of wastage in utilization of wood. Conversion efficiency is around 20 per cent, 80 per cent is going to waste, why should we allow that to happen while we are still talking about the need for us to achieve 10 per cent forest cover.”
Proposed interventions include planting and protecting two billion tree seedlings by 2022, protection of natural forests, water towers and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas, rehabilitation and conservation of mangrove, commercial forest plantation development on public, private, and community lands among others.
Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr Chris Kiptoo said the main challenge has been resources because the National Treasury has not been able to support them as required.
“We want to give equal target as a starting point to every county, and take 43 to 45 million seedlings in this campaign, we will try next year and 2022 and we are optimistic that we can achieve,” Kiptoo said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative Walid Badawi said Kenya loses around 12,000 hectares of forests every year. The number is about 4.7 million hectares globally.
He noted the dilemma of the government has to address issues of urbanization, for example, the Nairobi expressway and everything that it took to preserve the fig tree.
“We commend the government on the stand it has taken, these are the real pressures being confronted every day,” said Badawi.
He added that countries around the world especially the big emitters should take drastic measures to curb emissions otherwise the planet remains in peril.
“It is for this reason that the UN Secretary General has called for a climate ambitions summit to be held on December 12, 2020, virtually,” said Badawi.
“We see the country’s recovery from Covid-19 to be directly linked to issues of environmental conservation. The path to recovery has to be green and it has to see investments in the ten per cent tree cover strategy among others,” Badawi said.
Kenya Forest Service participated in the Wednesday media breakfast briefing which sensitises members of the fourth estate on the National Strategy for Achieving & Maintaining over 10 per cent tree cover by 2022.
The forum was led by the Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry Dr. Chris Kiptoo who was also joined by the Ag. Senior Deputy Chief Conservator of Forests Mr. Patrick Kariuki, and the UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya Mr. Walid Badawi.
Through this forum, the media was enlightened on the approaches the Government is taking in line with the Presidential Agenda, as enshrined on the Constitution of Kenya, towards attaining a National 10 per cent tree cover.
Also highlighted was the proposed strategic interventions put in place to achieve the target which includes; planting and protecting two billion tree seedlings by 2022, protection of natural forests, water towers, and rehabilitation of degraded forest areas including mangrove ecosystems, and the development of vibrant commercial plantations on public, private, and community lands to meet the demand and supply of wood and timber products nationally.