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 20 million trees for Kenya’s forests

International Tree Foundation (ITF) is launching a new 10 year campaign in 2015 to plant 20 million trees in Kenya’s  forests, leading up to the celebration of our centenary in 2024.

This is our most ambitious campaign yet in our 90 year history. ITF was originally founded in Kenya in 1922 by Richard St Barbe Baker and Chief Josiah Njonjo as ““Watu wa miti” in Swahili, which translates as “People of the Trees”. In 1924 Richard ‘St Barbe’ Baker founded the UK organisation as “Men of the Trees”; now the International Tree Foundation.

To mark our centenary in a fine way, we will work with our partner, Mount Kenya Environmental Conservation (MKEC) – formerly Save Mount Kenya Forest Group – to plant 20 million trees in Kenya’s forests. This will regenerate deforested areas, especially on Mount Kenya.

Forest Enrichment

Kenya’s forest cover is less than 7% and Mount Kenya Forest constitutes some of the most significant reserves of remaining forestland in the country. Mount Kenya has lost about 30% of its forest cover through various illegal activities such as timber harvesting or charcoal burning in early 1960s to late 1990s and those areas never regenerated back. Since 2011 ITF has supported MKEC to plant more than 150,000 trees in Mount Kenya Forest.

The area of Mount Kenya Forest that will be reforested lies within Embu County Forest. MKEC will formalize an agreement with both  (IRACOFA) Community Forest Association  and the Kenya Forestry Service to lead the reforestation effort. This fits with a recent agreement to promote community engagement in reforestation within Embu County. Kenya Forestry Service signed a management plan with the (IRACOFA) Community Forest Association in Embu on 18 December 2014. This is now aimed at incorporating the whole community into conservation of the forest.

The tree planting will be carried out by the volunteer members of MKEC and other community groups, who are mostly smallholders farmers committed to protecting their local environment and helping to combat climate change. They will establish nurseries and raise seedlings until they are ready to plant out in the forest. The trees planted will be indigenous trees.

Transporting millions of seedlings to deforested areas will be a huge task. The sites will also need to be visited regularly and monitored to ensure appropriate tree care and protection. MKEC will work closely with the Kenya Forestry Service to ensure that the trees flourish. We will actually plant more than 22 million trees, to ensure that there are at least 20 million trees surviving and thriving by 2024. Each tree planted will save an estimated 20kg of carbon each year. 20 million trees will save an immense 400 thousand tonnes of carbon every year.