NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 7 – Ecobank in conjunction with the Green Belt Movement (GBM) and the United Nations Environment have kicked off a tree planting exercise that will see over 3,000 indigenous trees planted in various schools as part of the Bank’s commitment to the 2018 World Environment Day (WED) initiatives.
The Pan African Bank said planting trees was not only in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s recent launch of the national tree planting drive, but also a step towards saving the planet. In the plan, the government targets to have at least 1.8 billion trees planted by 2022.
Speaking at the tree planting exercise at Lavington Mixed Secondary School, Ecobank Kenya Managing Director / Regional Executive CESA Sam Adjei said the tree planting initiative under the banner of “Planting today. Protecting tomorrow” will offer Ecobank an opportunity to demonstrate its corporate obligation to combating climate change and protecting natural resourcesin Kenya and across its footprint of 33 African countries.
Adjei said, “our pan African presence gives us many advantages but also imposes a huge corporate responsibility on us and it is absolutely important that we place strong emphasis on demonstrating that we care deeply about our social and environmental obligations by grasping them whole-heartedly through actions as opposed to just mere words.”
World Environment Day is celebrated every 5th June to raise awareness about the environment and its global effects on the daily livelihoods of the people. India is playing host to the 2018 World Environment Day celebrations.
The tree planting activities will empower over 1,000 students in Nairobi, Kisumu and Nakuru counties with the school greening trainings as well as responsible waste management practices.
GBM’s Chairman, Marion Kamau said, “with “Beat Plastic Pollution” as the theme for this year’s edition, the world is coming together to combat single-use plastic pollution. Ecobank and the Green Belt Movement have partnered to amplify the WED theme by focusing on integrated tree planting initiatives in schools both as an approach and means of inculcating sustainable waste management in learning institutions.”
The Green Schools Initiative (GSI) aims at sensitizing the school communities on plastic pollution; using tree planting as a mitigation measure and further extend the current greening initiatives for schools to reinforce belts of amenity trees and green underutilized free spaces within and around the schools.
Kamau said the Green Schools Initiative is anchored on “Four Pillars” that integrate efforts to reduce schools’ ecological footprints, make school environments healthier, and get the whole community thinking about solutions to the environmental problems we face. The GSI encourages schools to use the precautionary principle: “better safe than sorry.”
Areas in the Lake Victoria basin have the lowest forest cover according to statistics from the Kenya Open Data report (2015). For instance, the lakeside county of Kisumu has only 1,184 hectares of forest cover, which is 0.44 per cent of its total land mass of 267,000ha. This informs Ecobank’s choice of Kisumu county as one of the areas where it will plant trees.
According to the 2015 National Forest Policy, only 6.99 per cent of Kenya’s land area is under forest cover which is still way below the constitutional requirement of 10 per cent. Destruction of forests by illegal loggers, squatter farmers and developers also endangers plant and animal species found in these areas. Deforestation in Kenya is estimated at 50,000 hectares annually, with a consequent yearly loss to the economy of over Sh1.9 billion.
In the longer term, the green belts established through this initiative will provide a cool and serene environment, act as natural filters and contribute to the general well-being of society besides improving the microclimate of schools.
Use of plastics remains prevalent not only in our schools but also households and places of work. Teachers, students and school administrators can use creativity when developing reduction projects. While recycling bins offer a common approach to plastic recycling, the student body and staff can expand the reduction practice by reusing and reducing the amount of plastics in the school system.