Attorney General Kihara Kariuki gets on his knees to plant trees at the 2-hectare forest area that the Office will rehabilitate over a period of three years. Looking on is Chief Conservator for Forests, Mr. Julius Kamau and other officers. Similar rehabilitation will take place in all the 12 County regions that the Office is represented (Photo credit, Boniface Malinda, KNA)

1st November 2019, Department of Public Communications.

The Office of Attorney General and Department of Justice (OAG&DOJ) recently commenced an aggressive rehabilitation of forests in partnership with the Kenya Forest Service (KFS). This is in line with the 2018 Presidential Directive to increase the country’s forest cover to 10% by 2022 where an estimated 1.8 billion tree seedlings will have been planted.

At the end of October (24th October 2019) the Attorney General Justice (Retired) Kihara Kariuki led staff from his Office in planting 2,500 indigenous tree seedlings within the Ngando section of the expansive Ngong Forest. KFS has strongly recommended the rehabilitation of different sections of forests that have been destroyed through human settlement. Analysis by the KFS indicate that the country lost 311,000 hectares of forest land while increasing by 1,080,000 hectares under crop cultivation between 1990 and 2015. The loss of forest cover resulting from an increase in population from 23.4 million to 47.2 million over the same period.

In the three-year agreement with the Office of the Attorney General, the Kenya Forest Service has committed to protect, conserve and maintain all the newly rehabilitated areas that the Office will plant seedlings every rainy season in the country.

The small act by the Office of the Attorney General is aligned to the National Forest Program where institutional and multi-stakeholder participation will accelerate the constitutional target of 10 per cent tree cover. It is also aligned to Kenya’s contribution to the Africa Forest Landscape Initiative (AFR100) aimed at restoring 5.1 million hectares of degraded landscape while reducing by 50% of greenhouse gas which is part of the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) of Kenya to climate change. Kenya also seeks to contribute to the attainment of land degradation neutrality by 2030, a commitment to United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD).

These national programs on enhanced forestry acknowledge that forests contribute about 3.6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for 70% of the national energy requirements. Forest that are of great concern to the country in the rehabilitation efforts include Mount Kenya, Aberdare Ranges, Mau Complex, Cherangani Hills and Mount Elgon all which serve as water catchment areas for major rivers and are critical for rural and urban water supplies as well as hydropower generation. These forests have also been identified as vital in the climate change mitigation as they provide environment goods and services including water, biodiversity conservation, soil erosion control, improved forest landscape which strengthen community resilience to climate change. These forests also contain close to 25,000 species of animals and 7,000 species of plants thereby strongly anchoring the country’s tourism industry.