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The Ministry of Environment and Forestry in partnership with its state agencies has put up a concerted effort to restore the Maasai Mau water tower by launching the 10 million trees initiative.
Speaking during the multi-government agency tree planting exercise at Sierra Leone in the Maasai Mau Forest on 1st November, 2019 Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Forestry Mr. Keriako Tobiko pointed out that the Mau Forest ecosystem is an invaluable asset to the country and the region hence the need to ensure its rehabilitation.
“We have embarked on a major restoration program where we expect to plant more than 300,000 tree seedlings manually on the first day and aerial seeding of an area covering 3,500 hectares. We must secure the land in Maasai Mau Forest and make sure the tree seedlings and aerial seeds planted survive to reclaim and protect the vital ecosystem,” said CS Tobiko.
The CS said that half of the 46,000 hectares of the Maasai Mau forest had been grabbed and the first eviction face last year saw 11,000 hectares reclaimed. This year’s exercise targets to reclaim another 22,000 hectares.
The CS was accompanied by Environment and Forestry PS Ms. Betty Maina, KEFRI Director Dr. Joshua Cheboiwo, NYS DG's representative SAD Patrick Muchai and KFS Commandant Alex Lemarkoko.
Dr. Cheboiwo pointed out that KEFRI undertook aerial seeding of almost 3,500 hectares at an average cost Sh15 million to plant 20 million seedlings adding that it is a more efficient way of rehabilitating the forest, with a 75% chance of survival and is ideal for reseeding large open spaces and areas that are inaccessible or with rough terrain.
KEFRI dispersed 1,981 kilos of 13 indigenous species through aerial seeding. The species included cape chestnut, moringa, mukinduri, forest dombeya, African redwood, pencil cedar, mama mutere, Nile tulip, black ironwood, podo, parasol tree, Meru oak and African satinwood.
These are estimated to have approximately 60 million individual seeds, which will yield an estimated 30 million seedlings at a conservative germination rate of 50 percent. The effective stocking rate, discounting for damages, losses and predation by birds and rodents, is calculated to be approximately 75,000 seedlings per hectare.
“This technique is cost-effective thus saving time and money as compared to conventional planting. We believe that this method will help achieve and maintain 10% tree cover by 2022 and also meet the country’s target of African Landscapes Restoration Initiative 100 of restoring 5.5 million hectares of degraded land in Kenya,” said Dr. Cheboiwo.
Dr. Cheboiwo said aerial seeding is not new and that it has been used in other countries with considerable success. He further appealed to individuals andorganizations to join KEFRI and financially support aerial seeding of the millions of hectares of degraded lands to speed up the restoration of the country’s forest cover.
He said that under the 10% tree cover strategy, KEFRI has proposed to conduct aerial seeding over 4,000 hectares of degraded forest land, open-gapped and fire-ravaged areas in the Maasai Mau, Eburru (500 hectares), Aberdare (2,500 hectares) and Mt Kenya forests (3,000 hectares).
The Director was accompanied by Senior Deputy Director for Research and Development Dr. Jane Njuguna, Regional Directors from Maseno, Lodiani and Karura, Senior Deputy Directors among other staff from Headquarters and other regions.
KEFRI alongside Kenya Forest Service, Seed Balls Kenya and Farmland Aviation Kenya Ltdsupported the first aerial seeding which was carried out in Block 1 of the Maasai Mau in September 2018, led by Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina which covered about 1,400 hectares. Good germination was achieved.