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The Ministry of Environment and Forestry led stakeholders and its state agencies in marking Africa Public Service Day on 26th June, 2020 with a tree planting exercise in Kaptagat forest, Elgeyo Markwet County. Celebrated every year across Africa, the day serves as a platform for Public Service organizations to showcase and reward excellence in the Public Service in order to promote and sustain quality in service delivery.
The Cabinet Secretary, Ministry for Environment and Forestry Keriako Tobiko was joined by his PS Dr. Chris Kiptoo, EU Ambassador Simon Mordue, Elgeyo Markwet Governor Hon. Alex Tolgos, Uasin Gishu Governor Hon. Jackson Mandago, Dr. Eluid Kipchoge, UNDP representatives and representatives from WWF, KFS, KWTA, KEFRI, NEMA and CFA members.
Kaptagat Forest is an extension of the larger Cherangany Forest Ecosystem, one of the country’s five (5) water towers and covers a total area of 5,543.56 ha. The forest borders Sabor Forest to the North, Penon Forest to the East, Flax Sub-location to the South and Kaptagat Settlement Scheme to the West. It is an important water catchment to Lake Victoria feeding River Sosiani which forms part of Lake Victoria watershed.
In his remarks, Dr. Kiptoo reported this years’ exercise was the 4th edition of tree planting in Kaptagat forest. In 2017 a total of 50 hectares were planted, in 2018 another 15 hectares were planted and in 2019, 40 hectares were planted. “This year we have planted 100 hectares in four forest blocks namely Penon, Kessoup, Sabor and Kaptagat. The trees have been planted jointly with local CFAs who have assured us that incase the rains fail, they will ensure that the seedlings are watered,” he reported.
World record holder, Dr. Eluid Kipchoge alluded to Iten being "the home of champions" and challenged his famous clansmen to strive to win in all aspects including the fight to restore and conserve the environment. He pointed out that Kaptagat is a world class training course for athletes and as such must be restored and protected. “The Eluid Kipchoge Foundation has adopted 50 hectares of this forest and we have signed an MOU with KFS in this regard”, he said.
|CS Kariako Tobiko handing over avocado seedlings to Eluid Kipchoge.|
The community elders on their part requested the government to issue schools bordering the forest with title deeds, protect their cultural sites, incorporate youth in restoration activities such as watering and pruning of the trees and allow them entry into the forest to forage for medicinal plants.
CS Keriako Tobiko countered these requests saying the government is ready to work with anyone who is focused on restoration and conservation. He went on further to order local chiefs to confiscate and auction any livestock found grazing within the forest. “These forests are everyone’s heritage and we must guard them jealously. The effects of the degradation of Kaptagat forest can be felt all the way to Egypt meaning that if we continue with our destructive practices we are in effect destroying our continent and planet,” he emphasized.
The CS thanked the EU and UNDP for their continued support, pointing out that the environment does not know any territorial boundaries and as such all nations must work together. He further directed the gazettement of Kaptagat forest as indigenous in a bid to improve its water catchment ability and address perennial landslides in the area.