The Kenya Forest Service has decried the low forest cover in West Pokot County which stands at only 4.4 per cent.
Speaking during the national tree planting day at Kaprech forest in Kapenguria Saturday, the area county Ecosystem conservator, Allan Ongere blamed over reliance on wood fuel, charcoal burning and the illegal logging in the area for the dismal forest cover.
Ongere said the Ministry of Environment through the Kenya Forest Service had kicked off tree planting exercises as part of a strategic campaign to increase the forest cover to 10% and above in the area .
The conservator encouraged the farmers and various institutions to plant as many trees as possible, saying his department will provide any technical support for those taking part in tree planting in the County.
All farmers, children, youth and institutions are called upon to go out and plant as many trees as possible in order to double the tree cover in our County,’ he said
He added that the department is further targeting the locals through sensitisation on the importance of trees and the need to attain 10% forest cover as required.
‘It is a basic requirement for a country to attain the required forest cover, but at the same time the land owners need to play a bigger role and be in the forefront in participation in order for the increase to be achieved,’ pointed Ongere.
He further asked Community Forest Associations (CFS) to be active in the campaign and encouraged more farmers and institutions in planting trees, pointing out that some of the CFSs are dormant and led to destruction of forest in their respective areas.
He singled out Talau area, saying some people were sneaking into the forest and burning charcoal, saying his officers were alert and soon the culprits will be arrested.
The conservator said a total of 150,000 trees have been planted since the beginning of the rainy season and 4,000 trees planted Saturday at Kaprech forest.
Wananchi were given free tree seedlings by KFS and county government.
Speaking during the same occasion, the West Pokot Sub County deputy county commissioner Abdulahi Khaliff warned public officers against participating in the destruction of forests.
Khaliff said his office had received some complaints that public officers are using government vehicles in transporting forest produce, saying the government would not condone and severe action will be taken against them if found.
‘Regardless of your position action will be taken if found. We have received some information that some of our officers are using government Lorries to transport timber from the forest to unknown destinations while others transport charcoal,’ said the DCC.
He said the ban on logging and charcoal burning was still on, pointing out that the government has only allowed cutting of trees in individual farms and procedure has to be followed by applying for permission through chiefs.
Mr. Mica Powon, principal secretary called on the leaders from the county to stop divisive politics and preach peace and unity in the area.
Source: Kenya News Agency