Kenya has announced that it will embark on an afforestation project in a bid to salvage a 5.1 million hectare of land that has fallen prey to deforestation.
This afforestation project is part of a global campaign, the Bonn Challenge. The Bonn Challenge is a global partnership with the aim of restoring 150 million hectares of the world’s degraded and deforested lands by 2020.
It was launched by Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Bonn on 2 September 2011. Kenya is now the 13th African country to commit to the project.
Kenya’s environmental minister, Judy Wakhungu told journalists that the tree-planting plan is beneficial to Kenyans, as it will provide an “opportunity to reduce poverty, to improve food security, to address climate change and to conserve our valued biodiversity.”
In 2009, Kenya had plans to restore deforested areas, however, the plan was met with restraints such as illegal logging, land disputes, political divisions, among others.
The Kenyan government promises that this time will be different as the process will be more organized and efficient.
In the 60s, 10 percent of Kenya was made of forests. However, all of Kenya’s savannahs, forests, coastal mangroves, mountainous woodlands have been drastically reduced to 6 percent in recent years.
This drop is owed to an increase in unchecked logging, charcoal and timber production, and urbanization. Also, according to the Kenyan ministry of environment and the United Nations, about 10 percent of the Kenyan population rely on forest resources to make a living.
Quite ironically, deforestation happens at Kenya’s economy’s expense. An estimate of 5.8 billion Kenyan shillings ($68 million) a year is what Kenya forfeits at the mercies of deforestation, according to a 2012 report by the Kenya Forest Service and the UN Environment Programme.