350,000 seedlings to be planted in the annual Kaptagat tree plantation

Sportsman Eliud Kipchoge plants a tree when he adopts 50 ha of Kaptagat forest.[File,Standard]

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Some 350,000 seedlings are expected to be planted at this year’s annual Kaptagat tree planting event.

The event in its fifth edition will see 225 ha of degraded forest land planted amid efforts to boost government efforts towards achieving 10 percent forest cover.

Speaking at the launch of the event on Friday, Environment PS Dr Chris Kiptoo said the campaign aims to address environmental challenges faced on reserves by working with other stakeholders to undertake rehabilitation and restoration of forest areas. degraded and riparian areas within the ecosystem which eventually raise public awareness and instill a culture of arboreal activities in the region.

He said mobilizing stakeholders in the region is essential to step up government efforts to increase current tree cover to 10%, as envisioned in the 2030 vision by 2022.

The annual Kaptagat tree planting event was initiated in 2017 at the Sabor forest station, a noble idea supported by the PS which is its current patron.

The event is organized under the umbrella of the Kaptagat Integrated Conservation Program and has adopted a multisectoral approach attracting national and county government agencies, community forest associations, community organizations, individuals and other stakeholders.

The event has grown into a major annual event attracting stakeholders and partners from Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet County and beyond.

So far, the last four editions have reached a total of 210 hectares and distributed 12,000 avocado seedlings to communities adjacent to the forest in Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties.

The fifth edition aims to rehabilitate 225 hectares with the support of various stakeholders in the region.

Over half a million matching native seedlings have been planted with a survival rate of over 80% at the five forest stations.

In its efforts to foster partnerships in the restoration of the Kaptagat Forest, the Kenya Forest Service has adopted synergies with other agencies.

NETFUND launched a program to train and support community forestry associations and private nurseries to build their capacity to produce 2.5 million assorted native plants for ecosystem rehabilitation.

They have so far provided equipment and materials worth KES 4 million for production purposes. This is also seen as an empowerment commitment to promote livelihoods in the community.

World Wide Fund for Nature, a conservation organization, is involved in post-maintenance activities such as spot weeding, protection and threshing to ensure high survival and healthy growth.

WWF recently signed a grant agreement with the Kenya Forest Service to the tune of KES 1.5 million to achieve this noble goal.

In addition, he spearheaded the development of the Cherangany – Elgeyo Hills master plan which aims to scale up interventions in the wider ecosystem.

The government has set various targets under current forestry programs, the National Climate Change Action Plan, the Green Economy Strategy and the international forest landscape target of 5.2 million. hectares and our mitigation and adaptation commitments under Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

In collaboration with development partners such as the United Nations Development Program, the government revised the 2016 National Forest Policy to provide guidance in the management and sustainable use of forest resources.

In addition, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, with the support of UNDP, facilitates the development of a draft law and county policy through the Board of Governors which will be domesticated by the counties. to address the conservation, protection and management of forests in Kenya.

The support to the counties also facilitated the development of the forest policy of Elgeyo Marakwet which was launched in 4e Edition of the Kapatagat Tree Growing 2020 event by HE Governor Alex Tolgos and Walid Badawi, UNDP Resident Representative.

Partnerships with state and non-state actors are essential to improve forest cover through tree planting and growth initiatives such as the 5e Editing of the Kaptagat tree cultivation activity.

These activities aim to stimulate an arboriculture culture among the communities, which is evident with the activities underway across the country.

The participation of all stakeholders – government institutions, private organizations, the general public, local communities, women and youth is essential to achieve the goals of the national forest.

The Kaptagat Forest Block is located in the southern part of Elgeyo Maraket County and constitutes five forest reserves, namely Kaptagat, Penon, Sabor, Kessup and Kipkabus. The five stations consist of 9,387.0 ha of plantation, 8,283.48 native natural forests, 710.60 ha of grassland, 1,944.90 bush and 165.40 ha of bamboo vegetation with a total forest area of ​​20 491.38 hectares.

The conservation and management of the Kaptagat ecosystem is essential as it is one of the major water towers providing various livelihood services and goods to humanity in the region and surrounding areas.

The Kaptagat ecosystem serves as an important watershed for water sources for downstream communities and also provides water to the towns of Eldoret and Iten.

The opportunity of forest cultivation to local communities through the Plantation Establishment and Livelihood Improvement Program (PELIS) ​​benefiting nearly 5,000 members in the region.

In addition, communities depend on the ecosystem for the provision of fuelwood from dead and fallen trees within the forest ecosystem.

Communities adjacent to the forest have taken greater advantage of zoned grazing areas for their livestock as they observe the carrying capacity of the given ecosystem and are encouraged to practice zero grazing to avoid forest degradation.

As part of traditional benefits, communities can use special areas set aside in forests for cultural practices such as circumcision and traditional prayers.

Herbalists are not left out either because they use traditional plants for medicinal purposes but in a sustainable way.

The general amelioration and purification of the air by the trees provide a favorable environment for the inhabitants as they help to reduce the effects of diseases.

Therefore, due to its high altitude, it has become an athletics training center and has two training camps located in its surroundings, the Global Village and Rosa camps, which have attracted national and international sports figures. . Prominent athletes from the region trained.

Adjacent forest communities are the greatest beneficiaries of the ecosystem and have formed Community Forestry Associations (CFAs) in accordance with the Forest Conservation and Management Act of 2016, providing an enabling environment to support partnerships and engagement with Kenya Forest Service in conservation activities.

The current membership after the reorganization of the CFA stands at 7,935 people who are actively engaged in the conservation and management of forests in the greater Kaptagat ecosystem.

In 2019, all CPAs signed Participatory Forest Management Plans (PGAF) and Forest Management Agreements (FMA) in 2019 which are currently being implemented.

Engagement with CFAs opens up various opportunities within the ecosystem for the benefit of immediate communities through forest use rights such as ecotourism, PELIS, nature-based businesses, beekeeping, harvesting of forests. water, mushroom cultivation, among others.

Economically, it provides a base for industrial materials for the timber industry and improves local livelihoods within the larger community of Kaptagat.

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