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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Forest officer urges communities to plant trees

By Bob Aston
Communities living in Ndaragwiti area have been urged to plant trees in order to mitigate climate change effects. Speaking during a tree training day on April 23, 2014 convened by Lariak Forest Area Conservation Project, Francis Kanuthu, Laikipia West Forest Manager said that by planting trees one will be investing in the future.
Kanuthu about to plant a tree seedling
Kanuthu informed farmers that the Kenya constitution and economic blueprint Vision 2030 requires the country to work towards achieving a forest cover of at least 10% of the land area to ensure sustainable resource use, growth and employment creation.
“Forest resources in our country are valuable natural endowment that must be sustainably managed for present and future generations. Destruction of forests has led to climate change,” said Kanuthu.

Kanuthu urged farmers to read section 46 of the Forest Act 2009 which he said has empowered the local communities to be part and parcel of the forest. He said that communities should not leave the responsibility of managing forests to forest officers but they should also involve themselves in managing them.
Kanuthu said that forests contribute directly and indirectly to the national and local economies. He said that planting trees is a long term investment and its economic benefits are immense.
“Threat of climate change is serious. Communities are already experiencing the impacts of climate change because of cutting down trees. We should know that nature normally retaliates when we interfere with it,” said Kanuthu.
Kanuthu implored communities to intensify management of water catchments to enhance the conservation of water. He said community participation and partnership in forest sector development will help in ensuring more trees are planted.
Kanuthu addressing farmers
“The climate is changing and this is having a direct impact on forest resources and ecosystems. Forestry can play an important role in both mitigation and adaptation to climate change,” said Kanuthu.
Kanuthu urged communities to practice sound conservation practices as well as forest management to improve forest protection, management and growth. He said that most farmers rarely use forest extension officers yet there work is to assist farmers.
James Kamau, an extension officer with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries informed farmers that forests guard against soil erosion, arrest it where it has started, and assists in creating conditions for restoring fertility to the soil where erosion has already caused a deterioration of fertility.
“Soil erosion with consequent degradation of the fertility of the soil is a major challenge to most farmers. It is important for farmers therefore to ensure that they plant trees in their farms,” said Kamau.
Kamau urged farmers to adopt climate smart agriculture as well as diversifying to other crops.
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