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Kenya: Government Declares Public Holiday to Plant Trees

The Kenyan government declared Monday a public holiday to encourage residents to plant 100 million trees across the country, a call to which hundreds of people in Nairobi responded.

President William Ruto has pledged that 15 billion trees will be planted by 2032 to boost Kenya’s forest cover following the Horn of Africa region’s worst drought in 40 years.

Civil servants, students, and families gathered at various locations in the capital Nairobi on Monday to plant trees despite torrential rain.

“I planted about 50 trees today. I think this is a powerful and necessary initiative for the planet, especially after experiencing a dramatic drought for several consecutive seasons,” government official Joan Kirika told AFP.

“I hope we will continue to celebrate this day every year, not necessarily as a public holiday but as an annual reminder to take care of the environment and think about the planet,” he added.

William Ruto claims to care about climate change but drew the ire of environmental groups after announcing in July that logging would resume after a five-year ban.

At the time, he claimed that the resumption of logging was aimed at creating jobs and developing sectors of the economy dependent on forest products and that it only concerned mature trees in forests planted and managed by the state.

Last month, a Kenyan court suspended this decision to lift the logging ban but authorized the felling of 5,000 hectares of mature trees.

The forestry industry contributed 1.6% to Kenya’s GDP last year, according to official statistics, which also indicate that forests currently cover 8.8% of the country.

The timber industry employs around 50,000 people directly and 300,000 indirectly, according to government figures, in this East African country hit by unemployment and inflation.

Source: Africa News