Kenya’s dry land can in­crease for­est cover if put to good use, says ex­pert

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics Ministries -

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.

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