Kenya’s dry land can increase forest cover if put to good use, says expert
The potential that arid and semi-arid land has should not be downplayed if Kenya is to hit more than 10 per cent forest cover, an expert has said.
Better Globe Forestry executive director Jan Vandenabeele on Friday said the melia tree could do well in Asals.
He spoke on University of Nairobi’s lower Kabete campus during a workshop.
“There is a lot of potential in Kenya, especially in the arid and semi-arid areas, totalling 5.3 million hectares. Melia volkensii, an endogenous hardwood tree, has a potential of increasing this country’s forest cover by up to five per cent,” Vandenabeele said.
His statement came in the wake of the government’s efforts to intensify tree planting. The government targets 12.6 million acres of destroyed forests — equal to the size of Costa Rica.
Vandenabeele said planting as many trees as the number of people on the planet will help eradicate poverty.
“We are obliged to have a 10 per cent forest cover,” he said.
The Asals in Kenya make up more than 80 per cent of the country and are mainly found in the Rift Valley and Northeastern. They are home to about four million pastoralists, who constitute more than 10 per cent of the Kenyan population.
There was a change in forest cover between 1990 and 2000, with the country losing an average of 31,135 acres of forest per year. Between 1990 and 2005, Kenya lost 5.0 per cent of its forest cover — about 459,616 acres.