An elaborate plan is underway to plant 10 million trees in Nyandarua over the next four years, His Excellency Governor Francis Kimemia has said.
Speaking during the launch of National Tree Planting at Tabor Hill in Ol’Jororok Sub-County today, Governor Kimemia said the County’s forests constitute some of Kenya’s most important national assets for water conservation, biodiversity and carbon reservoirs.
Nyandarua’s wildlife habitats support the livelihood of millions of Kenyans who rely on its ecosystem, which is one of Kenya’s major water towers.
However, the County’s forests have continued to experience massive pressure as demand for expansion of agriculture, settlements, real estate development and infrastructure continues to grow.
“At 22 per cent forest cover, we must urgently plant more trees to increase the spread to at least 30 per cent over the next four years,” said Governor Kimemia.
The County head directed all Sub-County and Ward administrators to immediately distribute seedlings to all residents for planting in this rainy season.
“Like everyone else, we want a development path with higher growth and a cleaner environment. We also want to benefit from carbon trading, as outlined in both my manifesto and the second County Integrated Development Plan (2018-2022),” he said.
Governor Kimemia recalled that during a Council of Governors’ meeting he attended in Nairobi early this week, the Kenya Forest Service pledged to support County Governments in tree growing efforts.
Through the partnerships and network of tree nurseries managed by the Service, the private sector, individuals and communities, stocks of seedlings amounting to 170 million have been raised and are ready for planting this rainy season.
Most of the seedlings are in the hands of women, youth groups and small and medium enterprises.
Governor Kimemia pledged to work with all stakeholders to enhance the capacity of County residents in participatory forestry management as well as revenue generation.
“Revenue generation is important for us, because trees and water are what we have where others have oil. Importantly, both are devolved functions,” he said.
Governor Kimemia announced that anyone intending to harvest a forest in Nyandarua will now need to secure clearance from the County Government.
“A schedule for re-planting will be mandatory on the part of ANY harvester, as well as corporate social responsibility in villages whose roads are destroyed by heavy vehicles,” he said.
Governor Kimemia said that Nyandarua’s forests yield an estimated Kshs. 50 billion each year to harvesters – most of whom are drawn from outside Nyandarua – with little to show for County residents.
He further noted that some residents had been practising commercial tree planting in anticipation of supplying poles to Kenya Power, before the utility firm switched to cement poles.
“I believe we can begin giving hope to our people by ending the policy disconnect at the National level which has failed to acknowledge the complexity of Nyandarua as a water tower – including Lake Ol’Bollosat – and our impact on surrounding counties,” he said.
The Governor urged the private sector, lead agencies and commercial banks operating within Nyandarua to support development of alternative energy sources and tree-growing by schools and communities as part of their corporate social responsibility.
During last month’s World Wetlands Day celebrations, Governor Kimemia said the County Government is prepared to support management of community and private forests while identifying and setting apart land for forest reserves, including Lake Ol’Bollosat, which has since been gazetted as a National treasure.
His Excellency Deputy President William Ruto, who was the guest of honour, said the National Government will fulfill commitments made to Nyandarua by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta.
“It is the duty of all leaders to campaign for peaceful coexistence and erect the bridges of brotherhood so that we can concentrate on the task of nation building and focus on serving the people,” he said.
Present was the Cabinet Secretary for Water and Sanitization Hon. Simon Cherugui, senior County Government officials, several elected leaders and representatives of lead agencies.
Earlier, both the Deputy President and the Governor presided over a fundraiser to construct a house for Father Joseph Mbatia of the Roman Catholic Church’s Nyahururu Secretariat.