By Sharon Atieno

Though Kenya has increased its forest cover from 4.18 million hectares by 2010 to 5.22 million hectares in 2021, some counties are still performing poorly in this area.

The counties that are performing poorly, at less than 5% forest cover, are mainly from the Lake Victoria Basin and, arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), according to the 2021 National Forest Resource Assessment report.

Of these, Siaya, Migori, Busia, Wajir, Marsabit, Mandera, Kisumu and Machakos have less than 2% forest cover. This is in stark contrast to counties like Nyeri, Lamu, Kilifi, Nyandarua, Bomet, Kirinyaga, Samburu, Kericho and Elgeyo Marakwet which recorded forest covers of above 20%.

The report notes that while Nyeri county leads in forest cover at 40.89%, Siaya has the least at 0.23%.

With regards to tree cover, though Kenya stands at 12%, representing 7.18 million hectares, Kisumu, Busia, Machakos, Siaya, Wajir , Taita Taveta, Isiolo and Mandera are among the counties that have the lowest tree cover below the constitutional threshold of 10%.

Among the recommendations of the 2021 report is for the county governments with the technical support of the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) to develop their respective County Forest Programmes (CFPs) independently and/or as an integral part of their County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs).

Also, it calls for them to allocate not less than 3% of their total annual budget for the implementation of the CFPs, including the hiring of trained forest professionals, to support the implementation of the forest programme and provide extension services, monitoring and reporting.

Implementation of these recommendations might see these counties take the lead in the next forest resource assessment.