By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Kenyan authorities have declared a surprise public holiday to flag off the planting of 15 billion trees by 2032, an effort targeted at mitigating the impact of climate change, Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki has announced.
Kindiki made the announcement via a gazette notice posted on the social network X, formerly known as Twitter, following a cabinet meeting last week chaired by President William Ruto.
“The Government has declared a special holiday on Monday, November 13, 2023, during which 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,” said Kindiki.
The government has budgeted over $80 million this financial year, as it seeks to increase tree cover to more than 10%, from the current forest cover which stands at about 7%.
Climate change is worsening droughts in the Horn of Africa, including Kenya, where it has not rained for five seasons in a row.
According to an AP report, trees store carbon, one of the main drivers of global warming. In contrast however, deforestation accelerates climate change: it halts plant photosynthesis, so the trees are no longer taking up carbon. It’s also often accompanied by burning, which releases lots of carbon dioxide.
The Kenyan environment, climate change and forestry ministry said it would provide tree seedlings for what it said was “an unprecedented show of commitment by the Government towards our climate action obligations”
“It is a moment for Kenyans to stand in solidarity in the defense of our environment, it’s a ‘hummingbird’ contribution day, all of us pulling together to fight back the climate change crisis “said Environment Minister Soipan Tuya
President Ruto has made the National Landscape and Ecosystem Restoration Program a priority since assuming the presidency in September 2022.
His plans drew praises from King Charles III, who was in Kenya last week for his first visit to an African nation since he ascended the throne last year.
“Having been planting trees for most of my life, I thought I was doing rather well, but your ambition for planting 15 billion trees makes me admire your efforts,” King Charles said at a state banquet.