By Duncan Mboyah

Kenya’s Ministry of Environment said that they will start uprooting and re-planting trees instead of cutting them in areas identified for infrastructure development.

Chris Kiptoo, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said that government is acquiring a tree spade that is a specialized machine in the transplanting of large plants to other areas as opposed to cutting them down.

“The machine will help shift and transplant grown-up trees to suitable places after uprooting them safely in case of launching any project in the public interest,” Kiptoo told journalists in Nairobi.

Kiptoo said that the ministry in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public works are purchasing the equipment as part of measures to improving tree cover in the country that currently stands at 7.2 percent.

He noted that about 12 per cent of the land area which was originally covered by closed canopy forests has been reduced to about 1.7 per cent of its original size due to demand for fuel wood  and charcoal, population pressure for settlement, infrastructure, demand for wood products and conversion to agriculture.

The machine, Kiptoo added, is capable of separating the roots of a tree from the earth in which they have taken hold and lifting the tree and attached roots for transportation to another location.

“With the import of this machine, the small and grown-up trees will not be cut or uprooted manually,” he added.

He observed that this is just one of the interventions that the country has embarked on to improve tree and forest cover in the country from 6 to 10 percent by 2022.

The official noted that a coordinated approach, coupled with incentives for forest conservation and management, are being put in place to manage and conserve forests sustainably and to reduce Greenhouse Gas emission to meet national targets.

He announced that Kenya is in the process of identifying tree cover champions to serve as good examples of conservation within their locality of residence as a way of promoting tree planting.

“We have also started online training for people selling tree seedlings to acquire knowledge and produce recommended seedlings and help increase and maintain forest cover to 10 percent  by the year 2022,” he added.

Kenya recently spared an iconic fig tree that had been earmarked for felling in order to pave way for the expansion of the business highway within the capital city of Nairobi.