Currently, forests cover 7 percent of Kenya’s area. The government wants to increase this percentage to more than 10%, because trees can help combat global warming through their ability to absorb carbon dioxide. Roslinda Toya, Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, hopes 500 million seeds will be planted by the end of this year. The national holiday is supposed to lead to the planting of fifteen billion new trees by 2032.
The government expects everyone to make a “national contribution to national efforts to save our country from the devastating effects of climate change,” Home Affairs Minister Kithor Kindeke said on the X program last week.
Following the decision of the Cabinet held in Mombasa on Friday, November 3, 2023, the government has declared a special holiday on Monday, November 13, 2023, during which the public across the country are expected to plant trees as a patriotic contribution to the nation… pic.twitter.com/0gFelFnjKM
-Kithure Kindiki (@KindikiKithure) November 6, 2023
The government encourages every Kenyan to plant at least two seeds or seedlings. They can collect them from public nurseries and national parks, where there are 150 million seedlings ready. The government also hopes that every Kenyan will buy at least two seeds to plant on their land.
According to environmental activist Teresa Muthoni, the National Tree Planting Day is a “good idea”, but there are drawbacks, she said in a conversation with the BBC. For example, seeds are distributed in such a way that it is uncertain that everyone will actually be able to plant trees. Not all Kenyans can afford to miss a single day of work.
There is also criticism of the government advocating tree planting, while at the same time failing to combat illegal deforestation. Nairobi recently removed a ban on logging in public forests.
According to Minister Toya, the latter was necessary to meet local demand for timber and create jobs. Logging is still prohibited in other forests. According to her, only timber is cut in forests established for commercial purposes, about 5 percent of the total.
No seeds were planted in northeastern Kenya on Monday. The country is currently experiencing heavy rainfall attributed to the El Niño climate phenomenon. Heavy rains led to floods that killed dozens of people. Thousands more were left homeless, and roads and bridges were destroyed or damaged. The northeast has been particularly hard hit.
British King Charles III, who visited Kenya last week, praised this initiative. “I have planted trees all my life,” the king said. “I thought I was fine, but I really admire your ambition to plant fifteen billion trees.”
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