Kenyans have been given a special holiday to plant 100 million trees as part of the government’s ultimate goal to plant 15 billion trees.
On November 13, every Kenyan was being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings, to help reach the 100-million target. The holiday is intended to help fight climate change and assist with reforestation efforts.
The exercise is part of Kenya’s Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Programme, which aims to grow and nurture 15 billion trees by 2032 in order to restore and conserve 10.6 million hectares of degraded ecosystems.
The government is making available approximately 150 million seedlings in public nurseries and providing the seedlings for free at its forest agency centers. Once acquired, the seedlings can be planted in designated public areas.
Citizens are also being encouraged to buy at least two seedlings and plant them on their own land. The initiative allows “each and every Kenyan to own the initiative”, according to Environment Minister Soipan Tuya.
Kithure Kindiki, cabinet secretary for the Interior and Administration of National Government in Kenya, made the announcement in a post on X in which he wrote, “The public across the Country shall be expected to plant trees as a patriotic contribution to the national efforts to save our Country from the devastating effects of Climate Change.”
President William Ruto led the initiative in Makueni in the east of the country while cabinet ministers were sent to other regions to lead the process alongside county governors and other officials.
“I have come together with my colleagues, I’m happy to be here to show my love for the environment,” stated student Wycliffe Kamau.
The tree planting will be tracked through an app, which monitors the initiative by allowing individuals and organizations to record the plant species, number of seedlings, and date planted. The app, called Jaza Miti, will also help people plant the appropriate seedlings by matching the site with the appropriate plant species.
“I have come to plant trees here, because our water levels have been diminishing. Even here at the river source, the levels are very low, trees have been cleared,” said local resident Stephen Chelulei.”We need to reverse climate change so that our children can have a place to live when we are no longer there.”
Though Kenyans have broadly welcomed the tree-planting holiday, they’ve also noted some challenges. Environmentalist Teresa Muthoni said that the initiative was a “very good idea”, but that the exercise was not organized in a way that would ensure everyone was planting trees.
She also noted that many of the 150 million trees available in public nurseries were exotic. “It is very important to plant the right trees in the right place,” she said.
Ms. Tuya said the initiative would continue beyond the special holiday and expects 500 million trees to be planted by the end of the rainy season in December.