, NYAHURURU, Kenya, Dec 7 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a raft of interventions the Government is applying to address rampant forest destruction in the country.
Key among them, the President said, include creation and strengthening of Forest Conservation Committees and Community Forest Associations to instil a sense of ownership on communities.
“These community-based structures are at the forefront of forest protection and play a watchdog role, often whistle blowing whenever threats to forest conservation are detected, and I thank them for this,” he said.
The structures being put in place, the President said, will ensure participatory and sustainable management of forest resources as an important aspect in reducing conflicts among communities.
President Kenyatta was speaking during the official launch of the Green Schools Programme at Michinda primary school in Nyandarua County.
The programme whose theme is ‘Green Schools and Commercial Tree Growing for a Green Economy’ will through tree planting as an entry point, demonstrate simple technological interventions for sustainable forest protection.
He said wanton destruction of forests has been occasioned by encroachment, irregular allocation of forest land, breakdown of professional forestry practice and undervaluation of forest products from state forests.
President Kenyatta said a comprehensive wall-to-wall forest resource assessment informing the nation that tree cover now stands at just under 7pc has been completed.
“This and a further in-depth inventory of all gazetted industrial forest plantations sets the stage for investors to engage in the sector, thereby generating much needed jobs and creating wealth, while enhancing sustainable management of these forests,” the President said.
He urged custodians of the forest conservation sector to deepen reforms in order for the envisioned gains to cascade further down to all echelons of society.
The President regretted that closed canopy forests accounted for only 1.7pc of the country yet they played a key role in the provision of water for domestic, industrial and agricultural use.
Despite the benefits accruing from forests, the President said, mankind has plundered national wealth and treated the environment as chattels exchanging its functions for agriculture, social amenities and infrastructure development.
“In the past, a stand-alone approach was adopted in the management of the various sectors of the economy, where the intricate linkages between one and the others were largely unappreciated,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said his Government is committed to conserving the environment so as to deliver the growth objectives enshrined in Vision 2030.
Environmental conservation, the President said, must be seen against the backdrop of economic development, whose targets are clearly embedded in Vision 2030 and the Constitution.
“We envision a robust, diversified and competitive manufacturing sector through use of local raw materials. It would not be simplistic to say some of that growth is anchored in our trees,” said the President.
President Kenyatta said tree planting and forest conservation remains key element of the Government’s mitigation strategy to reverse the undesirable climate change phenomenon.
“Let us join in the global war against climate change, whose negative impacts have been felt far and wide in terms of increased human diseases, declining agricultural yields and reduced water stream flows,” the President said.
“It is also a well-established fact that our environment and its conservation are the anchor and pivot upon which all our economic activities depend on,” He added.
President Kenyatta said the survival of the human race solely depends on the sustainable use and management of the environment. He added, “Indeed, there is no sector of our economy that does not depend on the environment”.
The President urged Kenyans to direct their energies and resources on forest conservation as one of the important aspects of the continued prosperity of the country.