Alarm as Kenya adds least State forest acreage in 23 years

In 2005, the government reintroduced the Plantation Establishment for Livelihood Improvement Scheme (PELIS) to help increase forest cover and restore degraded forests in the country.

In exchange, forest adjacent communities (FAC) are allocated plots in which they plant seedlings, and take care of them until the area forms a closed canopy while they practice agriculture in the same forests.

However, the pace of increase in Kenya's land under forest cover has slowed to levels last seen in 1998, raising questions on the effectiveness of the system.

The capacity of the Kenya Forest Service to ensure PELIS is strictly enforced without gaps that allow people to encroach on forests and destroy indigenous trees has been put into question.

Kenya had set a target of 10 percent forest cover by the year 2030. Official data shows the country's forest cover stagnated at 7.14 percent in 2019 and 2020 and hit 8.83 percent last year as total forests are closed at 5.22 million hectares.

A directive by the retired President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 saw the country embark on a rigorous tree planting exercise.

National Forest Resources Assessment Report 2021 places the country's tree cover at 12.13 percent against the 30 percent that is targeted by 2050.