The quest to increase forest cover in Homa Bay County has received a major boost after an organisation launched a tree planting programme targeting to increase national coverage.
Green Africa Foundation in collaboration with several partners, believes the latest efforts are a major step in the fight against climate change.
Dubbed "Plant Your Age", the initiative encourages young people to plant tree seedlings equivalent to their age. This means a 15-year-old teenager will plant and grow 15 trees.
Through the campaign, the group aims at achieving 40 per cent forest cover by 2032. This will be a significant boost to the national forest cover which is 8.8 per cent today.
The 2010 Constitution article 69 (1) (b) requires the country to have a minimum 10 per cent forest cover. The initiative encourages growing of all species including fruits, which can also boost food security.
The Plant Your Age campaign is held annually on September 13. This year's event was held at Arina Primary School in Ndhiwa Constituency, Homa Bay County.
Green Africa Foundation chairman Isaac Kalua said growing trees will help revive the economy and boost family income.
Speaking after planting trees, Dr Kalua said the health of a nation is dependent on its tree cover. Trees help in creation of employment and livelihoods.
Trees also help in combating adverse impact of climate change through formation of rainfall. This boosts agricultural productivity.
“The higher the forest cover, the healthier the economy, the healthier the livelihood and more jobs created in a country. We are doing all it takes to ensure Kenya has the best tree cover,” Kalua said.
Some 1,881 tree seedlings were planted at Arina Primary School and Unga village during the campaign. The number represents all elected leaders from MCAs to the President.
Kalua urged elected leaders and citizens to embrace tree planting. He said everybody should be wary of climate change which poses danger to human life.
“If everybody embraces tree planting, we are going to achieve the 40 per cent tree cover by 2032. This will improve our economy within a very short time and put money into people's pockets,” he added.
He expressed concerns over 150 million trees which are depleted annually to be used as an energy source.
He proposed that Kenyans should plant at least 730 million trees annually to compensate for the loss.
Kalua was accompanied by various partners including Kenya Forest Service's Vitalis Kowiti, environment journalist Charles Odhiambo and World Bicycles Relief's Juliet Kang'ara.
Kowiti said Homa Bay was still lagging behind with forest cover of only 2.6 per cent. "Let residents collaborate with our office to enable us plant more trees," Konditi said.
Odhiambo said tree planting is a lucrative source of livelihood that many people have not discovered.
“Trees have made many people millionaires. Tree planting will help us overcome many economic challenges affecting us,” he said.
Kang’ara said it would be prudent for residents to take care of the trees planted to enable them grow.
“Planting a tree and dumping it does not help. The trees need maintenance after planting. We have given bicycles to help in supervising maintenance of the trees planted here today,” Kang’ara said.