West Pokot County’s current forestry cover falls below the global convention of 10% at less than five percent, and with the increasing tree cutting, arable land and rapid population growth, the situation is deemed to get worse.
In light of this, Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo in partnership with KETRACO led hundreds of residents in a tree planting exercise at Kamatira forest which has suffered from forest fires and illegal timber cutting by the locals.
Speaking during the one-day exercise which saw 3,200 trees planted, Governor Lonyangapuo urged residents to conserve the environment by planting trees across the county.
“Kamatira forest has acted as the water source to some major rivers in the County and has over the years been left bare due to high rate of deforestation, thereby leading to dry rivers. We need to desist from illegal logging and clearing if we want to avoid future problems. What we have done here today is the start of a culture that we want to inculcate in each one of us.” He asserted.
He further warned the residents that serious legal actions would be met upon whoever will be found cutting down trees from the forest. He said the county aims to achieve 10% forest cover in the next ten years.
On the same note, the Eng. Dr. Joseph Siror- General Manager, Technical services at KETRACO emphasized on the need to give environment a priority by developing policies that will ensure that forests and water catchment areas are well protected.
“Other than environmental health, tree planting is globally recognized as one of the most engaging and friendly activity. This exercise will have both long term and short term benefits, and that’s why as KETRACO, we are very passionate about it.” Said Dr. Siror.
CEC Emily Chepoghisio- Department of Water, Environment and natural resources maintained conserving the environment is one of the key focuses in her department. She added that they are pursuing a tree planting drive aimed at planting more than 60 trees across the county.
Her sentiments shared were shared by the Chief Officer Alex Lokimoi- Environment and Natural resources said forests support human life in several ways such as contributing to food security and energy, offering medicinal value among other uses.
He pointed out that there is need to involve locals in restoring degraded forest areas and monitoring biodiversity in their respective areas.
By planting a tree, Kenyans will contribute immensely to the attainment of Kenya vision 2030 and increase the capacity to adapt to the impact of climate change, combat desertification, guarantee water, food security and livelihood by conserving water catchments.