Wildlife Principal Secretary (PS),Prof. Fred Segor, has urged communities living along wetlands to be at the forefront in the protection of the water catchment areas.
Segor said that a stable environment is key in supporting wildlife and humanity through continuity in water provision.
Speaking during the launch of a tree planting exercise at Kibirong Wetland area of Nandi South Sub-county that saw over 5,000 indigenous trees planted, the PS pointed out that the week-long activity is part of efforts to ensure that the forest cover which currently stands at 7.2 percent cover in the country hits 10 percent by end of next year.
”We need to up our efforts as a country to boost our forest cover. Countries like China with a huge population are at 40 percent, we can also get there if we double our efforts,” he stated.
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Nyeri County leads in forest cover in the country at 38.2 percent, followed by Elgeyo Marakwet 37 percent, Baringo 31 percent. Nandi is at 26.2 percent.
The PS said natural habitats that are flourishing attract tourists who contribute about 10 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Segor urged residents to desist from poaching wildlife asking them to use alternatives such as chicken, rabbit and goat meat instead of killing wildlife for food.
“The government is keen in protecting wildlife thus has employed 3,500 rangers countrywide with 30 of them stationed in Nandi County to take care of the ecosystem, ” said Prof. Segor.
Speaking at the same forum, Dr. John Chumo, Secretary, National Environmental Complaints Committee (NECC), expressed worry that the Kibirong, Kingwal and Mutwot wetlands are in the verge of extinction if residents do not rise up to the occasion and protect them.
“Our main aim of planting trees on the wetlands is to restore them for they are a source of livelihoods for communities living across the water catchment areas”, he explained.
The Kibirong wetland which lies on over1,000 acres forms part of the source of Yala and Nyando rivers.
Dr. Chumo said the Committee is aware of individuals carrying out sand harvesting at the Kibirong wetland and asked the security team to be vigilant in arresting the culprits.
” As NECC, we are asking the communities living along the catchment areas to partner with us and be the lead in protecting the wetlands for it is for their own benefit,” said Dr. Chumo.
NECC in collaboration with Kenya Forest Service has had a weeklong tree planting exercise in the County, including Kapsamoite in Chesumei Sub-county and Nandi Hills.
It targets to plant over 200, 000 trees in institutions, gazetted forest lands and wetlands.