Kenyans have been encouraged to step up the drive to plant and nurture trees while protecting nature and the environment, and hence leave a lasting legacy for themselves.
They have also been advised to plant the right tree varieties that suit different ecological conditions to ensure the optimal survival of the trees that they plant.
Speaking during the launch of the East Africa Tree Growing caravan’s Kenyan edition at African Nazarene University in Kajiado County on June 15, Green Africa Foundation founder, Dr. Isaac Kalua Green who is an avid environmentalist noted that growing the right species of trees ensures a wholesome ecological restoration.
“As it is, people would love to be remembered for noble deeds. And what better way can one do this than through planting trees for future generations prosperity?” Dr. Kalua posed. “What would be a better way to achieve this recognition and legacy than by being remembered as part of an army that helped in rehabilitating and restoring degraded ecosystems by growing trees?”
Dr. Kalua urged Kenyans to own the national tree growing and restoration agenda and plant trees equivalent to their ages for a greener society and space. This, he further noted, will improve the country’s economy and create jobs.
The Australian High Commission to Kenya, Green Africa Foundation, Kenya Australia Alumni Association, the Plant Your Age initiative, and the African Nazarene University organized the tree planting drive that saw about 500 mixed fruit and indigenous trees planted. These varieties are deemed resilient to adverse weather conditions.
“Our choice of fruit trees shows that every tree has a meaning. There are trees for medicinal purposes, fruits, ornamental purposes, and firewood among others,” Dr. Kalua said.
He implied that the more Kenyans and African communities realize the importance of trees, the more they will plant the appropriate varieties.
The launched project intends to, among other activities, plant Moringa trees in Kajiado to address challenges that the local communities face. The trees will also, albeit indirectly, address food and nutrition security, and economic well-being by enhancing the communities’ livelihoods. The drive also targets setting up 300 beehives for beekeeping to enable the bees to forage on the Moringa tree.
Dr. Kalua further remarked that since independence, more than 90 percent of the trees that Kenyans have planted have died.
“This demonstrates that we do not fully comprehend the importance of each tree. We plant trees out of season and if not in season. We also don’t ensure that they are irrigated or protected from animals,” he said.
He also alluded to a drive launched by President William Ruto to restore the country’s forest cover. The ambitious National Tree Growing and Restoration Initiative targets to plant up to 15.7 billion trees in a drive that seeks to increase Kenya’s tree cover by 30 percent in ten years.
Climate change is a huge environmental challenge for everyone
“We need to plant 580 million trees to achieve a forest cover of one percent. At the same time, we are depleting 150 million trees annually and that means we must plant 730 million trees just to achieve this target,” Dr Kalua observed.
He added: “The economic hardships and the high costs of living Kenyans are battling can be traced back to our irresponsibility on matters of environmental conservation.”
During the event, Australian High Commissioner to Kenya Luke Williams said climate change is a huge environmental challenge for everyone globally.
“A lot of what is happening across the globe is leading to the destruction of this critical resource for all of our survival going forward. This new tree-planting initiative is a proud moment for all of us because we are addressing climate change,” noted Ambassador Williams.
He noted that collaboration is vital in addressing environmental threats. “The trees are not only just planted but they need to grow and be protected for the future of human beings,” he said.
Kenya Australia Alumni Association chairperson Mary Onsarigo said they are ready for such partnerships that are geared towards saving mother earth.
“We believe that nature conservation is a moral philosophy. It is a win as we are giving back to the community,” Dr Onsarigo said.
African Nazarene University’s acting deputy VC Dr. Simon Obwatho who was also present reiterated that the need to protect and restore mother nature is increasingly becoming urgent.