President gives Cabinet secretaries, citizens targets as the country eyes 15 billion trees

President William Ruto, Quintine Gitau and First Lady Rachel Ruto pose for a photo after planting trees at Kiambicho forest, Murang'a, on May 10, 2024. [PCS]

President William Ruto has called for concerted efforts to support tree planting ventures in the country to attain the 15 billion trees national target by 2032.

This happened as the president led Kenyans in a massive tree-planting exercise in response to the climate crisis that has unleashed flood terror in several parts of the country.

As the president pitched tent in Murang’a County, senior officials in his administration led similar tree-planting activities across the country.

Experts believe the day was a significant step in improving the country’s carbon credits and expanding forest cover to help avert future climate crises.

The president also observed a moment of silence in remembering the victims of floods in the country and introduced new measures to help boost forest cover.

He said in the next six months, tree planting exercises will be a must with Cabinet secretaries put in charge to ensure the target is achieved to help in the mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Speaking in Karua Hill in Igikiro area, Maragua Constituency, Ruto said starting next week, the CSs will be in charge of tree planting across the country.

“To achieve the target, every Kenyan should plant 50 trees, and starting Monday next week, Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi will lead the exercise followed by the Cabinet Secretaries for six months,” said Ruto.

Fruit trees

He emphasised that besides conventional trees, planting fruit trees is also important since while they serve the purpose of environmental conservation, they also promote nutrition and contribute towards a healthy nation.

“It can be done. Let’s not only focus on planting conventional trees; we should also diversify to fruit trees to increase our forest cover and provide fruits. I am committed to ensuring we shall plant 200 million trees countrywide,” said the head of state.

The president was accompanied by First Lady Rachael Ruto, Environment Cabinet Secretary Sopian Tuya, and leaders from Murang’a County.

Across the country, there was a beehive of activity as government officials hopped into helicopters to lead tree-planting exercises.

In Nyeri, Lands Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome joined hundreds of residents to plant over 54,000 trees in Gathiuru forest in the dry part of Kieni constituency, which is considered one of the key forests designated for afforestation.

Wahome emphasised the critical role forests play in environmental conservation and sustainability. 

In Rift Valley, Defence Cabinet Secretary Aden Duale led residents in planting trees at Saruru forest in Eastern Mau. He announced plans by the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) to propagate over 800 million tree seedlings in the next 10 years.

“In line with the Paris Agreement on Climate change and African landscape restoration achievement, KDF plans to plant over 450 million trees,” said Duale.

Duale promised that on every first Wednesday of each month, KDF will be either in Sururu or Bahati forest planting trees.

At the same time, hoteliers within Nakuru National Park and other stakeholders joined the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) in planting over 1,000 trees at the park.

Duncan Mwangi, the Cluster General Manager of Sarova Woodlands and Sarova Lion Hill Lodge said they plan to plant over one million trees in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Principal Secretary Paul Rono led the tree planting exercise in Kericho in the company of several leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Cheruiyot urged Kenya Forestry Service to protect the 10,000 tree seedlings planted by various state departments and organisations in Tulwap Kipsigis from local cattle owners.

Kipkelion East MP Joseph Cherorot disclosed that he had negotiated with the energy ministry to support local Community Forests Associations in conserving the Mau Forest Complex.

Similarly, in Nyanza and Western, tree-planting was a success as residents joined leaders in the exercise.

Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen, Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga, Interior Principal Secretary Raymond Omollo and Homa Bay County Commissioner Moses Lilan led officials of national and governments in officials in adopting Gembe forest in Mbita for conservation.

Murkomen said they had adopted the forest to restore its lost glory. They planted 100,000 seedlings in the forest. Dr Omollo said they are committed to transforming the forest to prevent the adversity of climate change in the area.

In the Coastal region, stakeholders planted hundreds of mangrove trees. Jomvu MP Badi Twalib said the floods had devastated his constituency and appealed to other residents to also plant trees.

Riparian land

“Let us continue planting trees and tell those who are building houses on riparian land to vacate because it is their lives they are risking,” said Twalib in Aldina in Jomvu .

Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director William Ruto said they are looking to plant 10 million trees and will adopt an area and give the youths priority in planting and nurturing the trees.

At the Migori Teachers Training College, Technical and Vocational Training Principal Secretary Esther Muhoria highlighted the importance of planting more trees to meet the set target of 15 billion trees, saying the trees would be planted in institutions and riparian areas.

Migori Education Director Jacob Onyiego said schools in the county have managed to plant 1.2 million trees. “We were given a target of four trees per learner. We look forward to planting more trees,” he said.

[Reports by Boniface Gikandi, Amos Kiarie, Daniel Chege, Anne Atieno, James Omoro, Olivia Odhiambo and Joachim Bwana]