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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Boost to agroforestry as Laikipia County distributes tree seedlings

By Bob Aston
The Laikipia County Government through the Laikipia County Development Authority (LCDA) continued its efforts at forest restoration and agroforestry by issuing 10,000 tree seedlings to 200 farmers from Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County on May 20, 2016.
Some of the beneficiaries from Kahuruko area with some of the tree seedlings

Mr. Charles Keru, Ol-Moran Ward Administrator, oversaw the disbursement of the tree seedlings at Kiriko Borehole, Sipili Primary School, Ng’arua Maarifa Centre, and Kahuruko Centre. The beneficiaries drawn from Sipili, Wangwachi, Kabati, and Dimcom Sub Location each received 50 seedlings.

The Laikipia County Development Authority (LCDA) is implementing the 4-year tree-planting project in collaboration with the Kenya Forest Services (KFS), and Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) among other partners.

The project aims to respond to the dwindling forest cover in the County and to mitigate against the effects of climate change by ensuring communities in Laikipia County plant 40 million trees. The program has ensured that communities plant trees in individual farms, education facilities, as well as gazetted forests.
The Ward Administrator said that planting more trees through forest restoration and agroforestry could help create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems.
He urged the beneficiaries to plant the seedlings in areas that are free from grazing, trampling, or other foreseen risks by having a fence around them. In addition, they must pit holes, follow the right spacing and orientation, as well as conduct gapping to ensure that they maintain the number of trees.
“It is important that farmers take good care of the tree seedlings. You are now Laikipia County Ambassadors in environmental conservation,” said Mr. Keru.
He urged farmers to either practice agroforestry, boundary planting, mixed boundary or establish woodlots. He said that this would ensure that farmers get timber for building and fencing, firewood, fodder, windbreak as well as conserving the environment.
According to Laikipia County Government, the County needs to plant an additional 38 million trees in order to reach the 10 percent target. The county data indicates that forestland stands at 6.9 percent of the County.
Andrew Kinyua, A.K Gatimu Tree Nursery Owner, thanked the County government for purchasing the seedlings from local nursery owners. He said that promoting local entrepreneurs would uplift the livelihood of many community members.
He said that this year has been the best as he has managed to sell more than 4,000 seedlings to the County government. He noted that lack of recognition had previously demoralized most nursery owners.
Some of the tree seedlings beneficiaries at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre
He urged the County government to continue giving local nursery owners priority when purchasing seedlings as most of the nurseries are certified.
“I have always been keen on environmental conservation. I am glad that the County government wants us to plant 10 million trees this year. This noble initiative will not only empower us but would also ensure that we protect our environment,” said Mr. Kinyua.
Similarly, Mr. Johnstone Ndiritu, from Spenco Tree Nursery thanked the County government for purchasing seedlings from local nursery owners. He said that the initiative has motivated them, as it is always hard to sell large quantities of tree seedlings like this year.
On her part, Mrs. Damaris Kamau noted that most farmers do not take the issue of environmental conservation seriously. She said that the County government has enabled most farmers to appreciate the importance of trees in increasing the capacity for climate change resilience and mitigation as well as preserving the soil.
“I am passionate about environmental conservation. I will ensure that I take good care of the 50 tree seedlings. We have to unite to ensure that we help the County government to plant 10 million trees this year,” said Mrs. Kamau.
The tree seedlings disbursement follows last month’s tree planting launch in Ol-Moran Ward by Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu at Sipili health centre in which community members planted 730 trees.
Increased population, demand for fuel wood and building materials as well as other land uses in Laikipia County has led to massive deforestation as well as dwindling water resources. This has had an overwhelming impact as indigenous forest cover within the forest reserves of South –West Laikipia has reduced considerably.
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