Wednesday, February 19, 2020

CS Keriako Tobiko(left), PS Betty Maina (Middle in glasses) and local leaders launch the 10 million trees initiative in Maasai Mau

Environment and Forestry Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko has launched a 10 million tree planting initiative to restore the Maasai Mau water tower following the vacation of illegal settlers after the expiry of a 60-day notice.

The CS announced that 96 percent of the illegal settlers had voluntarily moved out and the government had used a humane and judicious face by providing transport for them to move their belongings out of the water catchment area.

The restoration under the theme ‘’Restore Mau, Save the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem, Save Lives’’ drew the participation of  multi government agencies led by Kenya water towers agency, (KWTA), Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI), National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), National Environment Complaints Committee (NECC), National Youth Service, Ewaso nyiro South Development Authority (ENSDA), Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), universities, members of the public among others.

Over 200,000 trees were planted in the reclaimed areas with a target of 3 million trees during the short rains.

A plane being loaded with seeds that were planted in Maasai Mau

At the same time a modern technology dubbed “aerial seeding” was used by the KEFRI to plant 1.5 million seeds using an aircraft.

Mr. Tobiko said that about 20 million seeds would by scattered using the new technology within a few days after the launch.

He said the government had arrived at the painful decision to evict the illegal settlers since the forest is gazetted as a water tower.

The CS blamed politicians for the false narrative that the illegal settlers came from a particular community adding that all patriotic Kenyans supported the restoration of the water tower that served millions of people in the country and its neighbors.

CS Tobiko introduces Rift Valley Regional Coordinator George Natembeya at the launch of 10 million Trees Initiative in Mau Forest

Mr. Tobiko said the government had already fenced 50km out of the targeted 119 kilometers of the forest in order to secure it from encroachment.

The Rift valley Regional Commissioner who has been in the frontline to reclaim the forest said that farmers would be allowed to harvest crops already planted in the area but warned that they should not destroy tree seedlings in the process.

During the planting exercise local Leaders who accompanied the CS, among them Narok Senator Ledama ole Kina and Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta, lamented that rivers in the Mara, Lake Victoria and the Nile basins, whose source is the forest, are drying up with devastating effects to millions of people who depend on them.

The Principal Secretary for Environment Betty Maina, Chairmen and Chief Executive officers of various agencies attended the restoration exercise.






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