Two weeks after the government launched an initiative for planting 10 million trees in the Mau, plans are underway to reclaim two other forests.
The reclamation efforts are now set to move to Marmanet and Embobut forests in Laikipia County and Elgeyo Marakwet counties respectively.
A total of 19,700 tree seedlings were planted through aerial means while 300,000 by locals on more 35,000 hectares of the Mau forest. The Ministry revealed that Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko toured Marmanet forest and decried the extensive encroachment.
“We have kicked all illegal settlers out of the Mau and we are now moving to other forests. We shall not allow some individuals to mess up forests at the expense of majority of Kenyans,” Mr Tobiko said.
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Principal Secretary Betty Maina has since called for concerted efforts to achieve the government’s target of 10 per cent forest cover by 2022.
Tobiko warned settlers in the forests that their time was up and they must leave. The CS regretted that large tracts of Marmanet forest have been turned into wheat and maize plantations. The catchment area which is the source for Lakes Bogoria and Baringo, and feeds Ewaso Ngiro River which also drains into the Lorian Swamp in Northern Kenya, has been degraded and through human activities including overgrazing, illegal settlements and charcoal burning.
Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya who has been instrumental in reclaiming the Mau forest said the government will soon embark on a mission to also recover more than 5,000 hectares of land in Embobut forest. The total area of the forest is 19,600 hectares.
“We are heading to Embobut where more than 5,000 hectares of forest land has been encroached, we must get people out of the forest,” he said.
The Sengwer and Ogiek community claim that Embobut forest is their home. In October, members of the Sengwer Community walked to Nairobi to deliver a petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop evictions from the forest.