National government administrators will be held responsible for logging activities within their jurisdiction, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i has said.
He directed chiefs and their assistants to spearhead efforts to stop logging, which is part of the wider plan by the government to increase the country’s forest cover from seven to 15 per cent by 2022.
In order to achieve the United Nations recommended 10 per cent forest cover, the government says 10 million trees would have to be planted every year in every county.
“Administrators who allow logging will have a lot of explanation to do. We will work with police commanders to address logging and monitor the movement of charcoal,” Dr Matiang’i said during the launch of the Kenya Greening Campaign at Ruiru prison in Kiambu County.
The minister was accompanied by his counterparts in Public Service and Environment, Prof Margaret Kobia and Mr Keriako Tobiko, respectively.
Dr Matiang’i directed police to increase surveillance on charcoal and wood transport.
The campaign — an initiative by the National Youth Service and the Kenya Prisons Service — seeks to ensure 50 million trees are planted in Kenya by May 2019.
“Of the 500 million tree seedlings required to achieve the target set by the President early this year, the two departments will half that number,” the minister said.
The trees will be planted in 27 NYS and correctional institutions.
Ruiru prison has already planted 12 million seedlings on 13 acres of its 1,000-acre property.
The seedlings will be ready for distribution and replanting in April 2019.
They will be distributed by local leaders, administrators, corporates, faith-based organisations and learning institutions.
The campaign has been partly facilitated by the Central Bank of Kenya, the United Nations Environmental Programme and other agencies at a cost of Sh20 million.
Apart from tree planting, the two organisations will soon launch more joint ventures, including manufacturing and potato growing, on 2,000 acres of NYS land in Nyahururu and boreholes in Kilifi County.
The projects, Dr Matiang’i said, are aimed at realising President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
“Kenya has a lot of fertile but idle land. The food produced will be sold and consumed locally,” he added.
Mr Tobiko said 75,000 acres of natural forest cover and 150,000 acres of planted forests have, over the years, been destroyed by “cartels”.
He urged other ministers to replicate the effort by directing 10 per cent of their budgets to tree-planting.
Prof Kobia urged MPs to allocate more money to the NYS, after the scandal-ridden institution was re-organised by the government.