Somali Magazine – In a bid to foster a tree-growing culture among Kenyans and meet the target mark of 15 billion trees by 2032. President William Ruto has announced a public holiday on November 13 for a nationwide tree planting day.
The announcement was made by the country’s Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki via a gazette notice posted on the social media platforms associated with his ministry.
“The Government has declared a special holiday on Monday, November 13, 2023, during which the public across the country shall be expected to plant trees as a patriotic contribution to the national efforts to save our Country from the devastating effects of Climate Change,” said Kindiki.
Kenya’s current forest cover stands at about 7% but the government has set aside more than $80 million this financial year, as it bids to increase tree cover to more than 10%.
Trees store carbon, one of the main drivers of global warming. In contrast, deforestation accelerates climate change: it halts plant photosynthesis, so the trees are no longer taking up carbon. It’s also often accompanied by burning, which releases lots of carbon dioxide.
Climate change is worsening droughts in the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, where rains have failed for five seasons in a row.
“It is a moment for Kenyans to stand in solidarity in the defense of our environment, it’s a ‘hummingbird’ contribution day, all of us pulling together to fight back the climate change crisis, “said Environment Minister Soipan Tuya.
President’s Tree Planting Agenda
President Ruto has made the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Program a priority since assuming the presidency in 2022 . His plans drew praise from King Charles III, who was in Kenya last week for his first visit to an African nation since he ascended the throne last year.
“Having been planting trees for most of my life, I thought I was doing rather well, but your ambition for planting 15 billion trees makes me admire your efforts,” King Charles said at a state banquet.
While in the country, Charles planted a tree at the State House in the capital Nairobi and at the Karura forest, which is associated with the late environmentalist and Nobel laureate Wangari Maathai.
Last year the head of state launched a mobile phone application to document tree planting as he intends to have 15 billion trees grown on Kenyan soil in the next 10 years.
The App dubbed the #JazaMiti app, complements the gains that the government is making towards having an effective ICT system and digitizing its services.
“We would like to monitor the growth of the trees in the journey to reach the 15 billion target in 10 years. I have instructed the Cabinet Secretary for Environment to make ‘Mission 15B’ #JazaMiti campaign a truly tree growing campaign.”
President Ruto also noted that the programe will provide over 300,000 employment opportunities for the youth and women who will have participated in the tree-growing campaigns over the 10-year period.