The International Tree Foundation (ITF) working with local Community Forest Associations (CFAs) and select Community Based Organisations (CBOs), plans to plant 20 million seedlings in Kenya’s forests and farmlands by the year 2022. This is part of preparations to mark the Foundation’s centenary celebrations which will take place in the same year. This was said by the ITF Chief Executive Mr. Andy Egan at Irangi Forest Station in Embu County during the official launch of the campaign that will see five million trees planted in Mt. Kenya forest alone.
Addressing members of the local community, county officials and KFS officers at the launch site, Mr. Egan said that his organisation had chosen Kenya for the campaign because ITF was founded in Kenya in 1922. He noted that the centenary celebrations will mark 100 years of forest conservation carried out by ITF and local communities across the world. “We also hope to extend the 20 million tree campaign to other water towers including Cherengani, Mt. Elgon and the Mau Forest Complex,” he added.
The County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Lands Dr. Josphat Muriuki Kithumbu said that the county was also very pleased to join hands with ITF and KFS to ensure that the five million trees earmarked for the county are grown successfully. “I am happy to note that ITF is going to support farmers to plant fruit trees on their farms. This will help in ensuring food security for the residents of our county,” said Dr. Kithumbu. The CEC further noted that the County was working well with KFS and was supporting tree planting initiatives by the community. “We have given Ksh. 19 million to KFS for seedlings which are being planted by farmers and the county will also allocate funds totalling Ksh. 6 million for the establishment of a bamboo nursery at Irangi,” the CEC added.
While addressing the same gathering, the Head of Eastern Conservancy Mr. Samuel Ihure said that the ’20 million trees for kenya’s forests’ had come at an opportune time when the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) was looking for partners to assist in the rehabilitation of 5.1 million hectares of degraded forest areas. He added that the country had committed herself to rehabilitate degraded forest areas during the recent Conference of Parties (COP 21) held in France. “We have already mapped out and identified areas within our forests that need rehabilitation,” he said.
According to the ITF Chief Executive Mr. Egan, the foundation was started in 1922 at Muguga with the help of the famous Kikuyu Chief Josiah Njonjo and Richard St. Barbe Baker who was the then Assistant Conservator of Forests in Kenya. “This initiative, which had its seeds in Kenya, marked the beginning of a worldwide movement to raise awareness of the importance of trees and forests for all people,” he said.
International Tree Foundation Chief Executive Andy Egan plants a tree during the official launch of the 20 million trees campaign at Irangi Forest Station, Embu County