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Kenya’s long-term forest plan takes shape

By Standard Reporter | April 4th 2020
Chief Conservator of Forest Mr. Julius Kamau during project launch

Kenya’s quest to achieve 10 per cent forest cover got a boost on Friday with the commissioning of Green Zones Development Support Project Phase II.

Kenya Forest Service implements the project, which is financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), government and in collaboration with other stakeholders.

It is implemented in 15 counties around three critical forest ecosystems of Mau, Aberdares and Mt Kenya over six years from 2019 to 2025.

The African Development Bank has extended a USD 50 Million concessional facility for the project, with the Government of Kenya providing USD 5 million as counterpart funds.

“The project’s goal is to improve forest conservation and community livelihoods for sustainable forest management in Kenya. The specific objectives are to enhance forest conservation and livelihood support for climate change resilience and to develop timber, bamboo, horticulture and cereals value chain for improved household incomes,” said KFS in a communication.

Supporting tree seedlings production

The Green-Zones Development Support Project Phase II is supporting 15 counties with nursery tools for tree seedlings production, which will be distributed to 22 forest stations in these counties.

The project targets to support the production of 10 million tree seedlings in the current financial year for Sh35 million. So far, over 4 million seedlings potting materials have been distributed to the Counties.

According to KFS, another 5 million potting materials will be distributed in the current month (April 2020) for seedlings support while 1 million seedlings will be raised using innovative methodologies in the field.

The project is expected to rehabilitate 850 Ha of degraded natural forest and re-stock 250 Ha of commercial plantation in the current financial year.

On community farmlands, the project aims to establish 100 Ha of woodlots, 250 Ha of agroforestry and 80 Ha of fruit orchards. Also, 30 Ha of community hilltops will be reforested through the project support.

In the first half of the financial year, a total of Sh60 million was used to support the tree-planting effort. In the current rains, a further Sh51 million will be utilized to achieve the set targets.

Coronavirus pandemic

The Service has rolled out tree planting for the 2020 long rains season in Counties already experiencing adequate rainfall. Tree planting is mainly taking place within gazetted forests.

Tree planting is taking place in full consideration of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.          

“Despite the situation, I am confident we shall overcome the COVID-19 disease because we are a resilient people.

I urge all Kenyans to take advantage of the rains to plant trees, particularly in their homes and farms. Tree planting requires 2.5 meters spacing equally allowing for social distancing.”

Meanwhile, KFS has partnered with communities in forest conservation efforts through Community Forest Associations.

In the current financial year, a total of Sh4 million from the project will support community income-generating activities. So far, Uplands CFA in Kiambu has been supported with Mushroom farming, Ruthumbi CFA in Meru has benefited from fish farming, Dundori CFA in Nakuru was supplied with a Greenhouse for horticulture production while Londiani CFA IN Kericho has benefited from dairy farming.

Energy-efficient technologies

The project has taken cognizance of rural communities overdependence on wood energy which directly contributes to forest degradation. As a mitigation measure, communities will be assisted to embrace either alternative energy sources or energy-efficient technologies. It is expected that over 7500 households and 10 institutions will benefit from this venture. 

KFS calls upon all stakeholders among them development partners, NGO’s government agencies and communities to partner in the noble journey to achieve 10 per cent forest cover. In this era of climate change, one of the most important ways to mitigate the adverse effects is tree planting and we welcome support in this endeavour.

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