By Saumu Juma

Kenya is making efforts towards achieving a 10% forest cover in the country by 2022. This will be a big improvement from its current state of 7.2% .

In efforts towards achieving this goal, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) launched a solar drive facility for tree seeds to increase the number of trees planted to ensure that the goal is achieved by 2022.

Speaking at the Kenya Commercial Forestry Investment Conference& Expo, the Principal Secretary for Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Chris K. Kiptoo said that the seeds are a major step in making sure that the fight against climate change effects are a success.

“The tree seed drying facility will be very instrumental in provision of very high quality tree seeds towards meeting and maintaining the country’s 10% tree cover,” Dr.Kiptoo said.

He added that the cabinet agreed to support KEFRI with more resources that will enable it to expand its seed centers countrywide from six to eighteen, a step geared towards achieving the goal.

Dr. Kiptoo giving a presentation at the conference

The permanent secretary said that with the cabinet’s support, KEFRI has set up 60 metric tanks of seeds into stores and with good management, the seedlings can translate to more than 1billion.

“For us to reach 10%, we just need to do 2 billion seedlings to successfully grow them. That means we already are half way if we were to just do something about it,” he said.

“If we move the seed centers to 18, the installed capacity from those centers will be 300 metric tanks of seeds which means the country can have the ability to do more than 2billion seedlings every year.”

Dr. Kiptoo also noted that the major output of the conference through discussions was towards establishing Kenya Commercial and Forestry Innovation and Investment Center which will be key in catalyzing commercial forestry in the country.

He added that financial institutions should be cooperative and finance commercial forestry due to the rise in concerns that foresters face difficulties when trying to acquire loans which highly discourages tree planting and therefore, the goal will never be achieved.

The Permanent secretary said that Kenya should emulate from countries such as Sweden with 70%, Colombia (54%) and Costa Rica (52%) who have made huge steps towards achieving a bigger forest cover than the current 7.2%.

The Swedish Ambassador, Caroline Vicini at the expo

The Ambassador of Sweden to Kenya, Caroline Vicini advised Kenya to embrace mixed forestry planting as a way in ensuring there are many existing species in the forests.

“We would advise towards a more mix, if you have several types of trees that could go together and there are some mitigation efforts also to be made close to commercial forests to promote and protect bio-diversity and there are different techniques to combine”, Vicini said.

“It is also a question of expanding outside the indigenous forests ”Solar Drive Facility to Enable Kenya Reach 10% Forest Cover.”