A child holding a tree seedling ready to be planted.

100 Million Trees

Posted by Speakeasy News > Tuesday 09 April 2024 > In the News Shine Bright Lycée

The Kenyan government wants its people to plant 100 million trees to regreen the country. They even have a new tree-planting holiday. And the ultimate goal is much bigger: to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years. The JazaMiti initiative, which means "fill with trees" in Swahili,  aims to help tackle climate change.

As in many regions of the world, there has been massive deforestation in Kenya. Trees are cut down for wood for fuel and construction, or to clear land for farming. This means that  just 12% of Kenya is currently covered by trees. The goal of reforesting with 15 billion trees would lead to 30% of land being forested. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, reducing pollution, and help protect the water network. Rain that falls on forested areas is much better absorbed by the land.

A poster for the 15-billion trees planted target

For the first tree-planting holiday in November 2023, about 150 million seedlings were available free to citizens, who were encouraged to plant at least two each. A JazaMiti app allows people to quickly and easily find out what types of seedlings to plant where. But climate change made its presence felt even on the tree-planting holiday, as no planting could take place in the north-eastern region of the country because of flooding.

Pupils from Cheplelaibei Primary School in Kipsomba helped plant trees on the first tree-planting holiday.

Environmental activist Elizabeth Wathuti,took part in tree-planting activities in Makueni, and was impressed with the turnout. “It was incredible to see so many people asking where they could plant trees or get seedlings. It shows that more people are beginning to take the issues of conservation seriously, and having a national tree planting holiday shows political goodwill and intentionality.” She encouraged further action, “Tree planting is just the beginning of the exercise – we have to have a lot of follow-up, and promote the culture of people ‘adopting trees’ within the area."

Although the 15 billion tree target may appear ambitious, it isn't without precedent in the region. Kenya's northern neighbour Ethiopia ran a campaign to plant 20 billion trees between 2019 and 2022.

Staff and students from Karatina University in Central Kenya participated in the tree-planting day.

This short report from Voice of America shows how the mobile app is helping the Kenyan initiative.

This story can make a good update for Shine Bright 2e File 15 Preserving Kenya. You can watch Elizabeth Wathuti giving a moving speech to the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow in this article.

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